(East Los Angeles,CA) May 28, 2021 [From The Editor’s Desk]: Whatever the scouting book had on the Bruins opponent in the first game of the NCAA’s L.A. Super Regional, may not have been exact nor precise. But let’s forget about that and give the Virginia Tech Hokies lots of credit for failing to resemble whatever was found in that book. After all, they did do something very right to earn this spot in the Supers. In essence, this Regional will be best described as a classic “underdog” position that the Hokies were placed in.
(Recap): Game #1 was a match-up of pitchers that had everyone wondering what they were witnessing in Easton Stadium as the Virginia Tech Head Coach Pete D’Amour sent out to the mound, his pitching ace, Keely Rochard. No doubt that it was an onerous task for her to face the #2 team in the country, but what the heck, the game has to be played. And play it she did, limiting the Bruins to no runs or hits in her first 4 innings, while striking out the side twice in the 1st and 2nd innings, for a total of (8) to her credit.
The Bruins did not get their first baserunner, a base on balls to #7 Maya Brady, till their half of the 5th. She was followed by Kinsley Washington who singled up the middle, putting runners on 1st & 3rd. Coach Inouye-Perez then sent up pinch hitter Jenavee Peres who promptly lashed a solid, climbing line-drive double over the left fielder’s head and onto the warning track. This allowed both runners to score. This closed the lead to (6-2). But that unfortunately would be the end of the Bruins offense.
The Hokies were led by Cameron Fagan who went 3-5 with 2 RBIs; KelseyBrown, 2-5/21 RBI; Kelsey Bennett, 2-4, 2RBIs. Keely Rochard was the game MVP who went an amazing 7 innings pitched, with 12 Ks, 3 hits, 2 Runs, 1 Walk, and a 1.26 ERA.
On the other hand, starter, Rachel Garcia was not the effective and efficient pitcher that was evident during the entire season and unto this point. She was basically facing light-to-moderate contact hitters who were hitting her pitches into the ground but right at the defenders. Unfortunately they were not ready for that type of slap-hitting, and that was probably one of the scouting report entries. Her problems started early when the Hokies posted 2 runs in the first. They came back in the 4th with 2 more and then followed it with 2 more in the 5th.
The Bruins were mesmerized by Rochard who threw a variety of pitches, not commonly seen by Bruin hitters, while maintaining her cool, calm, and collected demeanor out on the hill. She threw with above-average speed, but her delivery style allowed her to use off-speed pitches to stifle the Bruins usual batting power. Due to her rhythm and dominance, she pitched perfectly for the first 4 innings, facing only the minimum amount of batters, while getting credit for 7 Ks. The Hokies went onto add 2 more runs in the 4th, and 5th innings plus a final run in their last at-bats in the 7th.
At the end of the day, Rachel Garcia took her first loss of the season. Obviously contributing to the huge loss were the 12 strike-outs that nullified a lot of the Bruins offensive attack that they’ve produced all season long. Game 2 will be one of the biggest of the season as it comes down to either winning to move onto Game 3 tomorrow, 5/29, or losing, which means the elimination from the tournament and the end of the 2021 season.
(FINAL SCORE): Virginia Tech 7 UCLA 2
(Next Up:) Game #2 – Virginia Tech Hokies, Friday, May 28th, on ESPN2. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:30 pm (PT). A Game 3, if necessary, will be played, 5/29, on Saturday with the same start time and will be televised on ESPN2.