Good pitching usually beats good hitting, but good pitching combined with good hitting is deadly. That’s what happened last night as the UCLA Bruins crushed the LSU Tigers, 9-1, in a 5 inning, mercy-rule shortened game at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City.
Rachel Garcia took to the pitcher’s circle for the Bruins and held the Tigers to just one hit in the first three innings. Meanwhile, the bats stayed hot for UCLA.
In the bottom of the first with Aaliyah Jordan on first and two outs, Brianna Tautalafua homered to left to give Garcia and the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
Briana Perez got things started in the bottom of the third with a double. She would move over to third on a failed fielder’s choice that gave UCLA Perez sisters on the corners with still no outs. Jordan singled to bring home Briana Perez and move Kylee Perez up to second. Kylee stole third and Tautalafua walked to load the bases. Garcia helped her own cause with a single that drove home Kylee Perez and Jordan to give UCLA a 5-0 lead.
LSU got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth on an obstruction call to snap Garcia’s scoreless streak at 27 innings, but the one run is all they got and it was 5-1.
In the bottom of the inning, UCLA got the run right back. Kylee Perez doubled to right center and moved to third on a Jordan ground out while Tautalafua singled to bring Perez in to make it 6-1.
As if the top of the order wasn’t causing enough problems for the Tigers, the bottom half of the order got into the act in the fifth starting with singles by Bubba Nickles and Paige Halstead that gave the Bruins runners on the corners. Imani Johnson came into the game to pinch run for Halstead and stole second while Zoe Shaw walked to load the bases. Julie Rodriguez drove Nickles and Johnson in with a pinch-hit single to right to make it 8-1 and Shaw scored on a Briana Perez single that gave UCLA an eight-run lead and ended the game.
Garcia (5-0) struck out 12 in 5 innings of work while walking only one for the win.
This morning, the Bruins play another doubleheader as the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic concludes. At 9 am, they will face the Missouri Tigers and, at 11:30, they are scheduled to play the Fresno State Bulldogs. Live stats are available for both games and both games are streaming on FloSoftball.com, but a subscription is required.
I don’t see any reason why the Bruins shouldn’t sweep this twinbill as long as they maintain their focus and keep tearing the cover off the ball.