#9 UCLA Softball (28-9, 4-4)
Opponent: #2 Oregon (35-2, 8-2)
When: 2:00 PM PT, Sunday, April 9, 2017
Where: Easton Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Audio: UCLA Bruins Live Audio
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
In a game in which the Bruins had more errors than hits, UCLA hurlers did what they had to do to give the Bruins a chance to win yesterday's contest. And eventually the Bruins found a way to break the scoreless deadlock, scoring a run in the bottom of the ninth on a passed ball.
UCLA's 1-0 win in game 2 of the series delivered the needed result: a second straight series win over a highly-rated Pac-12 foe.
Two weeks ago, the Bruins were in the Pac-12 cellar. Although UCLA still has a lot of work to do to catch the conference leaders, the Bruins are now in fourth place, and have already played three of the Pac-12's four toughest teams. Of course, a win today would be another step in the right direction, but as we've seen in the previous two games, it won't be easy.
Selina Ta'amilo started in the circle for UCLA yesterday, and she did an outstanding job against the Ducks' potent offense. Ta'amilo limited Oregon to three hits in six innings, finally leaving the game when the Ducks opened the seventh with a single to center.
That led Coach Inouye-Perez to summon Rachel Garcia to the circle, and Garcia picked up where she left off yesterday, shutting out the Ducks for a further three innings.
She did get a big assist from her fielders, though. Zoe Shaw made a great play in the seventh to nail the go-ahead run at the plate,
UCLA finally broke the 0-0 deadlock in the bottom of the ninth. Shaw reached first on a ground ball error by the Ducks' shortstop, and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Jacqui Prober drew a walk, Delaney Spaulding advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt to third. A passed ball then sent Shaw home, and she just managed to slide under the tag at the plate.
The game highlights, courtesy of the Pac-12 Networks, are worth checking out:
Another outstanding pitching performance by Rachel Garcia earned her her 12th win of the season and a postgame interview:
UCLA's pitching staff has now held the Ducks scoreless for 16 consecutive innings. I can't emphasize enough the difficulty of that achievement. Oregon arrived in Westwood with an undefeated record, and riding a 35-game winning streak. UCLA has not only managed to win two straight, but has completely shut down the Ducks' offense.
It's almost certainly too much to expect the Bruins to keep Oregon off the scoreboard for a third straight day. Therefore, UCLA's lineup is to going to have to find ways to be productive at the plate if the Bruins are going to earn a series sweep. Although Coach KIP's pitching staff has been up to the challenge so far, a run or two probably won't be enough for a third straight day.