(Oklahoma City, OK) The #3 seed UCLA Bruins, living dangerously close to the edge, dramatically and emphatically advanced to the second round of the all-important Women’s College World Series Winners Bracket, with a huge “come-from-behind” win over the #6 seed, Florida St. Seminoles. The win came on the day’s opening round, 5/31/18.
The game was played closely and evenly through the first four innings with neither team able to score. The Bruins had the first opportunity in their first at-bats with the bases loaded, but with two-outs, they were tuned away. Then, the game’s first break came in favor of the Seminoles. Let’s take a look at what happened.
Joshua Gateley/UCLA Athletics
Garcia certainly had her moments, especially in the top of the fifth, when Florida St. took the game’s first lead, as they scratched in a run, 1-0 after a walk, a stolen base, a throwing error, and finally a single. Then, Sydney Sherrill (.382 ) came up with the bases loaded and two out. She took Garcia deep into the left field corner as LF/Kinsley Washington managed to close the gap in distance, however, she couldn’t make an “over-the-shoulder” circus catch to end the inning and the threat. The official scorer credited Sherrill with a bases clearing double. Garcia retired the side on the next batter. But the damage had been done. The score now read 4-0, Florida State.
In their bottom of the fifth, the Bruins began their comeback from the four run deficit. They would score their first run, although unearned, on a single by Briana Perez which scored Taylor Pack. In the next inning, the Bruin rally sprang up with timely explosiveness. After getting runners to load the bases, on a walk, then a fielder’s choice, followed by singles from Brianna Tautalafua and Pack, an RBI sacrifice fly was credited to pinch hitter, FR/Julie Rodriguez, bringing in Stevie Wisz who was inserted as pinch runner. The score was now Seminoles 4, Bruins 2. Then, with two runners still on base, up stepped the four year veteran, 2B Kylee Perez. And with her 300th career hit as a Bruin, she drove a pitch just over the plate into the right centerfield bleachers at Hall of Fame Stadium, for a gigantic, go-ahead, 3-Run homer. This brought her teammates running out their dugout to tumultuously greet her in typical Bruin fashion. Perez, from Martinez, CA. knew that it was gone the moment she connected. UCLA added 2 more runs for insurance when Aaliyah Jordan tripled into the right field corner and drove in Briana Perez, who had reached first base on a bunt single. The sixth run of the inning was unearned as the Seminoles were marred by another untimely fielding error. At the end of six, the score was 7-4, Bruins.
After the Bruins jubilation subsided, Rachel Garcia took the mound in the seventh, knowing that she had to close out the Seminoles and bring her hard day’s work to a triumphant end. And finish it up, she nicely did. The hope and the message for the day was, Let Rachel be Rachel, let the hitting worries end, and let the timely hits keep coming. With their win, the Bruins would go on to face the #2 seed, Florida Gators in the second round Winners Bracket. Rachel Garcia’s game stat line was quite impressive as she earned her 28th win against just 3 defeats. She was credited with 15 Ks, 6 Walks, and 4 Hits. All four runs allowed were earned. Continue to follow the Bruins as they march to the NCAA’s 2018 Division I Softball Championship. You’ll find many stories and great video highlights of all of their games.
Photo Gallery Credits: Joshua Gateley, UCLA Athletics