Rachel Garcia was able to hold the Arizona Wildcats to just two runs on two solo home runs while the UCLA offense gave her the run support she needed and the Bruins won Game 5 of the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
The game remained scoreless until the top of the third when UCLA, which was the visiting team due to NCAA rules, broke through with a little small ball. With one out, Bubba Nickles singled to left and Briana Perez walked. An Arizona error allowed Aaliyah Jordan to reach, loading the bases. That brought up Garcia who hit a hard line drive to right that looked like it would drop and be at least a double, but it was actually caught by Wildcat right fielder Hannah Martinez. Nickles was able to tag up on the play and score to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
But the Wildcats got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Garcia gave up her first homer of the game to Alyssa Palomino. The game remained tied 1-1 after five innings.
With Brianna Tautalaufua due to lead off in the sixth, Kelly Inouye-Perez sent Malia Quarles to pinch-hit for the struggling Tautalafua. Quarles got a hold of a pitch with the count full and there was no doubt that this one was gone. Quarles’ shot had given the Bruins the lead, 2-1.
The Bruins added four insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Perez got the rally started with a single up the middle and she scored when Jordan doubled to right center. Meanwhile, Jordan moved up to third on the throw home. With UCLA looking for more, Stevie Wisz pinch-ran for Jordan. A pair of walks to Garcia and Pack loaded the bases for Tautalafua. This time, rather than pinch-hit for her, Inouye-Perez let her hit and she flew out to right field, but Stevie Wisz tagged and, after first starting back towards third, she was able to score when Dejah Mulipoa dropped the ball at the plate. Wisz snuck her hand in and was safe. Colleen Sullivan followed by hitting a fly ball to deep left center for what should have been the third out, but left fielder Carli Campbell dropped the ball and two more runs scored for the Bruins, making it 6-1 and chasing Arizona starter Taylor McQuillen.
But the damage had been done and UCLA took a five-run lead into the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Garcia gave up another solo shot, but it didn’t matter. The next batter hit a grounder to Tautalafua at third and she tossed it to first to close this one out with a final score of 6-2.
The win gives UCLA tomorrow off as the undefeated Bruins now advance to Game 11 on Semifinal Sunday. If UCLA is able to win Game 11, or Game 13 if they don’t win Game 11, the Bruins will advance to the best-of-three Championship Finals, starting on Monday. First pitch for Game 11 on Sunday is at 10 am PT and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.