(Westwood, CA.) The #3 seed UCLA Bruins, took the field on Sunday, 5/20/18 facing elimination in the Los Angeles Regional tournament. On the day before, the Titans shocked the Bruins by defeating them 3-2 in nine innings. High drama filled Easton Stadium as the Bruins, in one of their most adverse situations of the season, braced themselves for a long and productive day of softball. The first game resulted in a 3-0 victory while the second “if necessary” game was clinched via a 6-4 win. Thus, the Bruins overcame a gigantic scare from the Cal St. Fullerton Titans by defeating them in two straight games and earned the right to host the Super Regional against the University of Arizona Wildcats starting on Thursday, 5/24. Game two is on Friday, 5/25, and the “if necessary” game will be on Saturday, 5/26. The winner of the “Best of Three“ will advance to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City beginning May 31st and going through June 6th.
Brief Game #1 Summary: For this critical elimination match-up, #00 Rachel Garcia was asked to step up to the mound and deliver “big time” in a “big time” game. Rising high to this occasion, she showed her extraordinary pitching skills en route to a three hit, complete game shut out. In one of her most memorable performances of the year, she delighted those UCLA fans inside Easton Stadium and captivated thousands of softball fans throughout out the country who were watching the nationally televised game on ESPN 3.
The Bruins, (52-5) at game time, broke open a scoreless contest when they pushed across two runs in their half of the 4th, thanks to a booming 2-out, 2-run double to right center by #48 Bubba Nickles. Then in the following frame, they manufactured an extra run for good measure, moving the score to 3-0. Garcia then continued to dominate the Titans, thus preserving her brilliant shut-out. The win moved her season record to 25-3.
Both teams were then given the mandatory 45 minute rest period per NCAA rules.
Then at 7:04 pm, the Championship game of the L.A. Regional Tournament began. From the Bruin fan perspective, there was little doubt that Head Coach, Kelly Inouye-Perez would go with her ace, Rachel Garcia, just one more time,
Brief Game #2 Summary: The Bruins (54-5) took a 1-0 lead in their bottom of the 2nd. The Titans, (35-25), would answer with two of their own taking a 2-1 lead in their top of the 3rd. The Bruins came back again and tied it in the 4th at 2-2. In their half of the 5th inning, the Bruin bats awoke with thunder and lightning as #37 Kinsley Washington (LF) led off with a sharp double to left center. Then, two batters later, #3 Briana Perez (SS) would drive her in with a single for a 3-2 lead. #23 Aaliyah Jordan (DP) then singled putting runners on 1st and 2nd. Moments later Rachel Garcia got a hold of a fastball down the middle and blasted it over the left field fence for a three-run homer, boosting the lead to 6-2.
Garcia pitched confidently in the 6th, as she silenced the Titans bats with a fly-out and 2Ks for a 1-2-3 outing. And, although they scored two runs in their final at-bats, it would not be enough as Garcia steadied herself to close out the game. With that out, #00 accomplished a phenomenally rare gem in her young Bruin career—pitching and winning complete “back-to-back” games on the same day. As the saying goes, “you had to see it, to believe it.” Her season record moved to 26-3 with the victory. Final score, Bruins 6, Titans 4.
Next Up: The Los Angeles Super Regional tournament as the Bruins face their PAC-12 rival, the University of Arizona Wildcats. Game #1 is on Thursday, 5/24 at 6 pm. Game #2 is on Friday, 5/25, also at 6 pm. And the “if necessary game” is on Saturday, 5/26 at 4 pm.
Friday’s game will be televised on ESPN 2 and Saturday’s “if necessary” game will be on ESPN. Tickets for the Los Angeles Super Regional are sold out. For those with tickets, Easton Stadium gates open at 4:30 pm on Friday and 2:30 pm on Saturday. All seats are general admission, first-come, first-served.
Photo Gallery & Video Credits: Erik Sarni, East L.A. Sports Scene Productions.
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