Arizona Advances to Super Regional with Mercy Victory
TUCSON (Arizona Athletics)- Arizona rebounded from a loss to the Tigers earlier in the day and got to LSU pitching for a 13-5 walk-off victory that earned the Wildcats the NCAA Championships regional title in Game 7 and a berth in next week's Super Regionals.
Shelby Babcock (6-0) pitched a solid six-hitter and Arizona clouted 14 hits, including a walk-off, two-run home run by Mo Mercado in the bottom of the fifth.
The Wildcats earned their ninth Super Regional berth in 10 tries since the format began the two-team second-weekend format for the Championships.
Arizona (44-14) chased LSU starter Kelsee Selman (6-3), a freshman, in the first inning, with four hard hit balls, the first a home run by leadoff batter Hallie Wilson. Two outs later, Chelsea Goodacre singled, Selman walked Katiyana Mauga, Mo Mercado singled in Goodacre, and Lauren Young singled.
LSU (38-24) brought in Game 6 winner Baylee Corbello, who gave up an RBI infield single to Courtney Rodriguez. She struck out Chelsea Suitos to end the inning but UA had batted around and opened a 3-0 lead.
LSU quickly put a runner in scoring position with a hit by Bianka Bell and a walk issued by Babcock to Tammy Wray. Sandra Simmons moved them both up with a sac bunt, and an out later Babcock hit Constance Quinn to load the bases. But Jacee Blades hit a soft liner to short to get out of the jam.
UA got going again in the second, sending seven to the plate. Corbello gave up a hit to Wilson and walked Kelsey Rodriguez to open the Cats' frame, but a double play eased the situation, moving Wilson to third. Goodacre walked and then Mauga ripped a double down the line to bring in one more run. Mercado beat out an infield single to drive in Goodacre for a 5-0 lead.
Sahvanna Jaquish hit her fourth home run of the weekend after a hit by Bailey Landry to put LSU on the board in the top of the third. It was her 17th of the year. An out later, Wray slugged her sixth of the year to make it a two-run game, 5-3.
Arizona had an answer to the Tigers' rally. Kelsey Rodriguez followed a Wilson two-out single with a blast, her ninth of the year, to left in the bottom of the third.
The Cats rallied again in the fourth, batting around. Suitos had an RBI single, Wilson drove in a pair with a single and Fox hit a sacrifice fly to make it 11-3.
LSU avoided a shortened game -- for a few minutes, at least -- after Babcock walked a pair of batters in the top of the inning and Simmons, on a 3-2 count and one strike away from a UA mercy-rule win, knocked a double over centerfielder Courtney Rodriguez's head to drive in two and make it 11-5.
After Corbello walked Mauga to open the UA fifth, Mercado lifted a bomb beyond the left field fence for the winning eight-run margin.
Arizona was eliminated at home in NCAA action for only the third time among 26 playoff weekends held in Tucson, 20 of those Regionals. Losses to Oklahoma and Louisiana-Lafayette (after two opening wins) bumped the Cats in 2004, and UA lost to the Sooners in Super Regional play in Tucson in 2011.
LSU was fighting for its fourth Super Regional appearance, including one in Tucson in 2006 and in Tempe in 2007, plus a most recent Super Regional at Columbia, Mo., in 2012.