UW 5, Cal 2 (8)

Sarah Hyatt hit a three run home run with no one out in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the fourth ranked Huskies to a dramatic 5-2 victory over defending national champion and ninth ranked California in a tense and controversial Pac-10 game at Husky Softball Stadium on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

With the much needed victory the Huskies not only snapped a four game losing streak in Pac-10 play but also a streak of three consecutive shutout losses in league play, two by the run rule against UCLA and Stanford and then a 1-0 decision against California in the first game of the series on Saturday.

They evened their Pac-10 mark at 7-7 and improved overall to 40-9-1, while California dropped to 8-7 in conference and 39-14 overall.

After Kristina Thorson, a freshman from Lake Forest Park and Shorecrest High School, shut them out on only one hit on Saturday and threw four and one thirds more scoreless innings at them on Sunday, the Huskies finally broke through against her in extra frames.

Kathy Fiske got hit by a pitch leading off and then third baseman Vicky Galindo made a bad throw to first on a sacrifice by Dena Tyson on a sacrifice, giving the Huskies two baserunners.

After getting ahead in the count 2-1, Hyatt launched the next delivery from Thorson over the wall in left center field to send the Husky partisans happily to the exits.

Surprisingly after entering Sunday's contest batting only a meager .158 against Pac-10 pitching in 13 games, the Huskies actually got on the scoreboard first against starting pitcher Kelly Anderson.

They loaded the bases with two outs on a walk to Jaime Clark and singles by Kristen Rivera and Fiske. Despite that it looked like the Bears would escape and the Huskies' recent inability to score runs would continue when Tyson hit an apparent inning ending grounder to Eryn Manahan at second base, but shortstop Chelsea Spencer dropped Manahan's throw to force Fiske at second, allowing Clark and Rivera to score and put the Huskies up 2-0.

The Huskies could have added more after Hyatt reached on an infield single to re-load the bases, but Thorson, who entered the game in relief of Anderson, struck out Amy Hanson on a foul tip to end the inning.

In contrast to the Huskies' offensive woes, the Bears had many opportunities to put runs up on the board, as they got 11 hits against Ashley Boek and Tia Bollinger, but they squandered them, leaving 11 runners on base.

They threatened in the third inning, getting two runners aboard on consecutive infield singles by Galindo and Lindsay James with none out, but Boek got Veronica Nelson, the Bears' leader in batting average and home runs, to ground into a double play.

Then, after dueling cleanup batter Courtney Scott for nine pitches, Boek struck her out looking to end the inning.

The Bears threatened again in the fifth, and managed to get to Boek for one run, but blew the chance to inflict even more damage.

Manahan and Galindo singled with none out and advanced on a wild pitch by Boek. Boek proceeded to walk James to load the bases and bring Nelson to the plate. Just as she did in the third, Boek got Nelson to ground into a double play, this one going from first to home to first, and it looked like she would also escape unharmed again, but Scott drove home Galindo with an infield single.

Controversy then ensued with the next batter, Kaleo Eldredge.

Boek fired a 2-2 pitch to Eldredge, and initially, after conferring with first base umpire Don McCombs, home plate umpire Lori Bish awarded Eldredge first base, ruling that Eldredge got hit by the pitch.

That prompted Husky coach Theresa Wilson to come out of the Husky dugout to protest, as she believed that Eldredge swung and missed at the pitch for a strikeout.

Bish then discussed the situation with third base umpire Steve Arnold and then ruled that indeed Eldredge did strike out, ending the inning.

California coach Diane Ninemire then came out of the Bear dugout to protest the new ruling, but to no avail.

Unfortunately for Bish, that merely climaxed a rough afternoon for her behind the plate, as backers for both the Huskies and Bears jeered and heckled her for a very inconsistent strike zone. Several times, even on ball/strike calls which went against Washington and for the Bears, a Cal supporter on the first base side, derisively yelled "Go Blue!"

Leading 2-1 entering the top of the seventh, Wilson brought in Bollinger to relieve Boek in the circle and nail down her sixth save of the season, but the Bears managed to tie the game at 2.

After Manahan grounded to second for the first out, Galindo singled, advanced to second on a passed ball by Hanson, and scored on a single by James.

Nelson then reached on a throwing error by Bollinger and Scott singled to load the bases, but Bollinger preserved the tie by striking out pinch hitter Jessica Vernaglia swinging and got Jessica Pamanian to ground out to second.

The Huskies had an opportunity to end the game in regulation play in the bottom of the seventh, getting runners on a first and third with two outs on a double by Aimee Minor and an infield single by Clark, but Thorson struck Rivera out swinging to send the game into extra innings.

Despite blowing the save, Bollinger benefited from Hyatt's game winning home run to get the win in the circle for the Huskies and improve to 22-6, while Thorson dropped to 12-6.

The Huskies return to the diamond when they host second ranked UCLA at Husky Softball Stadium at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30.

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