College softball: Oregon wins thriller with UCLA
EUGENE, Ore. - No. 4 Oregon rallied back from a 3-0 deficit and evened the series against No. 16 UCLA with a 6-5 win on Saturday night at Jane Sanders Stadium.
The Ducks (27-5, 7-1 Pac-12) scored five runs in the fifth inning with Koral Costa's two-run single proving to be the deciding hit. The Ducks scored six runs on six hits in the game with a season-high six errors.
"It was good to see us come back," said head coach Mike White. "Defensively we didn't help ourselves, but that pitching performance by Megan Kleist was huge for the team at this point in the season."
Oregon will go for the series win on April 3 at 2 PM on Pac-12 Networks.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Oregon found itself in an early hole, down 3-0 after a two-run homer by UCLA in the top of the third.
The Ducks had a chance to answer quickly in the bottom of the third, but after loading the bases with no outs, scored just once on a bases loaded wild pitch. The Bruins used one of three double plays in the game to get out of the jam.
After a scoreless fourth inning for both teams, the Ducks took the lead in the fifth. Oregon scored three runs on three hits and two errorsin the frame.
Lauren Lindvall started things with a one-out double in the fifth, her third straight game with a double. After Danica Mercado walks, Alyssa Gillespie reached on an error by the first baseman. In the next at-bat, Nikki Udria rolled a ball to the first baseman, but the throw home was wide and rolled away, allowing both Mercado and Lindvall to score. Costa then came up and delived the decisive blow, a two-run single up the middle to score Udria and Gillespie. Oregon tacked on one more run in the inning on a RBI groundout from Hailey Decker, giving the Ducks a 6-3 lead.
UCLA trimmed the three-run lead to two on a RBI single following an Oregon error. That set up a wild seventh inning.
Down two runs with a runner on first, UCLA slapped a fielder's choice to third but the throw to second went wide and rolled nearly to the wall. Costa, however, made a great play to get to the ball and fired home, with the play at the plate forcing the first UCLA runner to miss home plate for the second out of the inning. However, the UCLA batter, Delaney Spaulding, came all the way around to score on her own fielder's choice as the Oregon catched tagged out the lead runner walking away from the plate.
IN THE CIRCLE: Despite all the errors behind her, freshman Megan Kleist was superb. The right allowed five runs (two earned) on seven hits in a compelte game with four strikeouts and no walks. Kleist, who has issued just nine walks all season in 69.1 innings pitched, threw 75 pitches with 62 being strikes.
DOUBLE PLAYS: UCLA, who entered the series leading the nation in double plays, made three on Saturday night - one each in the first, second and third innings. The Bruins made one double play in Friday's game.
RECORD BOOK: Oregon's six errors was one shy of the school record. The Ducks made seven errors in games against Hawai'i in 1999 and Southern Utah in 2009.