Allyson Von Liechtenstein's 12th-inning single bounced off the knee of California left fielder Lindsay James to score Adrienne Acton with the winning run as Arizona eliminated the Golden Bears 3-2 at the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Balko and Farley led off the deciding frame with a pair of walks. Von Liechtenstein, who was starting for the first time in the last five games, then lifted the single that James fielded and then bobbled off her knee. Kaleo Eldredge came up with the ball, but her throw to the plate was off the mark, allowing Acton to slide across with the winning run.
"When you're playing in the losers' bracket, every game is a big game," Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. "We played like it was a big game. I thought we played hard today. We had opportunities to score, but we just couldn't get the runs across. I guess we decided to play two games instead of one. Now we have to regroup and get ready for Texas."
Arizona advances to play Texas at 6 p.m. Saturday, while Cal ends its season at 52-15. Cal lost its first two WCWS games for just the second time in 10 games, the last time coming in 2000.
Alicia Hollowell picked up the win as she went the distance, allowing two runs, one earned, on eight hits with six strikeouts and no walks. Her and her Arizona teammates have allowed just 10 runs in the postseason, with Cal's initial run in the fifth inning being the only earned run.
A pair of home runs in the bottom of the second inning gave Hollowell the early cushion to work with.
Jackie Coburn took a 2-0 offering from Kelly Anderson and drove it over the left center field wall to put the Wildcats up 1-0. Three batters later, Callista Balko put Arizona up 2-0 as she knocked the first pitch she saw from Anderson out left field.
Anderson lasted only an inning and two thirds initially, giving way to Kristina Thorson, who went on to hold the Cats to just two hits for eight and a third innings. Thorson gave up a leadoff double to Kristie Fox in the bottom of the 11th, and Anderson returned to go the rest of the way.
"Kristina got to a level where she needed to come out. She looked at me and let me know how she was doing," Cal head coach Diane Ninemire said. "The thing with having two 20-game winners is there is never a question or a hesitation in trying to replace the other one. We really needed both of them today, but unfortunately, we came up on the short end."
Arizona starter Alicia Hollowell kept Cal off balance through the first four innings, but she was unable to prevent the Golden Bears from tying the game up in the top of the fifth.
Chelsea Spencer started the rally for the Golden Bears in the fifth with a base hit. After advancing to second on a sacrifice, she moved to third on a wild pitch and was brought home on Julie Meyer's single that dropped in front of Arizona center fielder Caitlin Lowe to cut the lead to 2-1.
Vicky Galindo, who had a home run robbed by Lowe in the third inning, tied the game up with a bouncer up the middle that was fielded by Hollowell. Hollowell lost control of the ball as she pulled it out of her glove. Taking advantage of the opportunity, pinch-runner Erika Racklin headed toward the plate and scored the tying run as Hollowell's throw to the plate sailed wide of Coburn's reach to the backstop.
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