Final Score: Michigan 10, UCLA 4
Going into last night's game, the Bruins had a perfect postseason record. UCLA had swept the field in the Regionals. The Bruins had won two straight against Missouri in the Super Regionals. And UCLA had defeated Oregon in their opening game of the Women's College World Series. But yesterday, against the #3 Michigan Wolverines, the Bruins couldn't bring home enough runs in the early innings and Ally Carda couldn't keep the Michigan hitters in check in the final few innings. The result was a 10-4 loss that knocks the Bruins into the losers bracket, with a game against either Auburn or Tennessee at 4 PM PDT on Saturday.
UCLA started well, scoring three times in the bottom of the first. A leadoff double by Delaney Spaulding, an infield single by Allexis Bennett, and a walk to Ally Carda loaded the bases. A one-out single by Mysha Sataraka brought home the first run, and a two-out base on balls to Maddy Jelenicki forced home the second run. When Gracie Goulder was plunked by Michigan hurler Megan Betsa, the third run of the inning came across the plate. At that point, Michigan brought in Haylie Wagner in relief of Betsa. Wagner got the final out of the inning to strand three Bruins.
Michigan struck back for four runs in the third with two singles, a double, and a pair of walks. In the bottom of the third, the Bruins pulled even at 4-4. Stephany LaRosa was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and Sataraka followed with a single through the left side. Gabrielle Maurice advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt before Jelenicki grounded out to short, with LaRosa scoring while Sataraka got caught in a rundown.
Although I've rarely had reason to question Coach Inouye-Perez' game management, I don't see a good reason for her decision to play small ball with two on and no outs in the bottom of the third and trailing by a run. When you have a team with a .370 batting average, giving up an out to move base runners along is an big concession. Also, since Coach Inouye-Perez has often used a pinch runner for Sataraka in similar situations, it would make sense to use a pinch runner in this situation, particularly considering the decision to play small ball.
Selina Ta'amilo replaced Carda in the fourth after Ally gave up a leadoff single. Although Ta'amilo issued a base on balls, she silenced the Michigan bats, and the game remained tied at 4-4 until the fifth inning.
In the top of the fifth, Ta'amilo surrendered a pair of singles to open the inning. Carda came back in to pitch at that point, and although she was out of the inning just three batters later, a sacrifice fly brought home the go-ahead run for the Wolverines.
Michigan added two more runs in the sixth and another three in the seventh before Johanna Grauer relieved Carda. Grauer got out of the seventh without conceding any more runs, but the damage had been done. When the Bruins went down quietly in the bottom of the seventh, Michigan had secured a 10-4 win.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">UCLA Softball Highlights vs. Michigan - 5/29/15 <a href="http://t.co/OKNpvHXTc1">http://t.co/OKNpvHXTc1</a></p>— Gabriela Santos (@Bruinette88) <a href="https://twitter.com/Bruinette88/status/604610697918599169">May 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Needless to say, Ally Carda's line isn't flattering: 5.2 innings pitched, 13 hits, 9 runs (8 earned), 4 walks and 1 strikeout. Considering the fact that Carda has started every postseason game for UCLA, there's good reason to suspect that fatigue played a role in her ineffectiveness against Michigan.
The Bruins didn't have a great day at the plate either. Mysha Sataraka was the only Bruin to collect two hits, and Delaney Spaulding was the only Bruin with an extra base hit.
The loss drops UCLA into the losers bracket with a 4 PM PDT elimination game against the winner of the Tennessee-Auburn contest. It's win or go home time for the Bruins. Let's hope that UCLA can score early and often today so that Coach Inouye-Perez can give Ally Carda's right arm a well-deserved and much-needed rest.