The Bruins easily swept their doubleheader last night at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic I in Cathedral City. UCLA defeated Syracuse, 6-0, and Alabama-Birmingham, 8-0 in a five-inning mercy-rule shortened game.
Today, the Bruins return to action in the third and final day of the event with a doubleheader featuring a game against the Grand Canyon University Antelopes and an exhibition game against Team Japan.
Against Syracuse, Rachel Garcia pitched a one-hitter in which she struck out 10.
Bubba Nickles got the Bruins’ offense started in the top of the second with a solo homer. UCLA capitalized on three walks that Syracuse starter AnnaMarie Gatti allowed to Paige Halstead, Julie Rodriguez, and Kinsley Washington. Briana Perez singled to bring Halstead home while Aaliyah Jordan drove home Rodriguez and Washington to give the Bruins a 4-0 lead.
UCLA would add to insurance runs in the fifth when Halstead doubled to score Nickles and Imani Johnson who had pinch-run for Garcia.
Garcia didn’t even allow a baserunner until the top of the seventh when she finally gave up a hit to the leadoff batter for the Orange. Two batters later, she hit a batter with a pitch, but she was able to get the next two runners out and end the late Syracuse threat. Garcia is now 3-0 this season.
Johanna Grauer started the game against Alabama-Birmingham and she struck out six while walking three and giving up just one hit over five innings to win her second game of the year.
Meanwhile, the Bruin offense scored in each inning. As has been the case so often already this season, Briana Perez got UCLA started in the bottom of the first. This time, she reached on an error and her sister Kylee moved her over to second on a fielder’s choice to first. Jordan then doubled her home to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
In the second, it was Nickles who drew a leadoff walk. Two batters later, she scored on a Zoe Shaw single and throwing error by the Blazer shortstop.
Kylee Perez walked to lead off the third inning and scored when Jordan tripled. Nickles singled to drive Jordan in. Taylor Pack then hit a two-run homer to give the Bruins a 6-0 lead.
UCLA wasn’t done offensively. In the bottom of the fourth, Imani Johnson, who had pinch-run for Kylee Perez, scored on a passed ball and Jacqui Prober, who had pinch-run for Jordan, scored on a wild pitch and the Bruins led 8-0.
A shutout fifth by Grauer ended the game due to the NCAA mercy rule.
This morning, the Bruins take on the GCU Antelopes at 11:30am. While we may see a ton of tv ads in the LA market for Grand Canyon University, their sports programs are still developing. So far this year, GCU is just 3-7. As a result, I’m expecting another mercy-rule game for the Bruins.
Later, UCLA will play an exhibition game against Team Japan before heading back to Westwood.