It took all of 10 innings on Sunday, but the No. 2 UCLA Bruins have advanced to the Championship Finals of the Women's College World Series.
The Bruins beat Pac-12 rival Washington in 10 innings on Sunday, in large part due to the stellar play of Rachel Garcia, who not only shined on the mound, but was clutch at the plate.
She pitched all 10 innings, striking out 16 and throwing 179 pitches. Garcia then ended Washington's season with a walk-off three-run home run.
THE ABSOLUTE 🐐— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) June 2, 2019
Nothing like hitting a walk-off 3-run homer to send @UCLASoftball to the #WCWS Championship Series after throwing 10 shutout innings with 16 strikeouts, right @raaaccchhheeell? pic.twitter.com/QUAlTcarX7
Here's how it all went down in the incredible win for UCLA.
- Washington got a leadoff single off Garcia in the top of the first inning, but then she struck out two batters to end the inning, stranding that runner.
- The second inning was a 1-2-3 affair, as Garcia needed little effort to sit down all three Washington batters, tallying another pair of strikeouts.
- And the third inning? Same story. Garcia rolls through the next three Huskies batters, striking out two of them.
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- But while Garcia was keeping the Huskies off the board, UCLA was struggling on offense too. Through her first six innings of work, Washington's Gabbie Plain struck out seven UCLA batters. Not even unique rally caps could power the Bruins to a score.
- Garcia was still wheeling and dealing in the fifth inning, but she got some help in getting an out via a web gem from Kelli Godin.
- In the sixth, Garcia gave up a pair of singles, but then fanned two more Washington batters to end the inning.
- Garcia picked up her 11th K in the seventh inning, but UCLA still couldn't give her any support on offense. The Bruins turned to more rally-cap techniques, this time employing the help of a bubble gum bucket.
- This didn't seem to help either, but good idea.
- If Garcia was tired in extra innings, it didn't show. Washington loaded the bases up in the eighth inning, but the Garcia used eight pitches to get another strikeout, ending the inning.
- In the ninth, with two runners on, Garcia fanned Sami Reynolds to tie her season-high with 15 strikeouts. She showed no mercy to the Huskies.
- In the 10th inning, Garcia's defense came up big again as Brianna Tautalafua went over the rail to grab this out.
- And then, finally, in the bottom of the 10th inning, the Bruins created some offensive magic. Briana Perez reached on a fielder's choice, and then Aaliyah Jordan singled up the middle. That brought up Garcia, who took the fourth pitch she saw from Plain and cranked it over the left field wall for a walk-off win.
- Yeah. Garcia. Dagger.
- In all, Garcia threw 179 pitches over 10 innings of work. She struck out 16 batters, allowed eight hits, four walks and zero runs. At the plate, she got one hit, but it was a three-run RBI that ended the game.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.