The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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UCLA uses stellar seventh to claim 8-2 win, A&M eliminated from WCWS

Photo by By Angel Franco

Texas A&M head coach Jo Evans speaks to her team in between innings on the 8-2 loss to UCLA in the WCWS elimination game.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The run was remarkable, but ended just short of the big goal.
Texas A&M (47-13) was unable to recover from UCLA’s (48-14) stellar seventh inning, falling to the Bruins 8-2 as the Aggies were eliminated from the Women’s College World Series Saturday afternoon.
“Going into that last inning we felt like we had a chance to win this thing, and we just couldn’t keep it close,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said.
UCLA’s seventh-inning insurance was key, piling on five runs in the final frame. Delaney Spaulding started the scoring spree with a double off the wall in left centerfield, scoring pinch-runner Imani Johnson from second. On the next at-bat, Kylee Perez sent a single up the middle to bring home Spaulding.
The run ended the day for starter Trinity Harrington (14-4), who was relieved by Payton McBride.
UCLA continued to increase its lead though, as Brianna Tautalafua sent a double into the left field corner, bringing around Perez all the way around from first to score. Two batters later, Rachel Garcia added an exclamation point, blasting a two-run shot over the left field fence.
“UCLA did a really great job to just keep coming. They’re offensively just a powerhouse,” Evans added. “They hit through their lineup. They hit with a lot of power, and you know, they showed why they continue to come back to the College World Series year in and year out
In a class act, Evans pinch-hit both the Aggies’ only seniors, Reagan Boenker and Celena Massey, in the bottom of the seventh. Massey made some magic happen, too, blasting a solo-home run over the left field fence.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what the bat was going to be like,” Massey said of her at-bat. “I just went up there hacking, and after that, I saw them jumping, and I was like, holy-moley, it’s out.”
Massey’s might did not carry over, however, as Kelbi Fortenberry grounded out to closing pitcher Selina Ta’amilo on the next at-bat to end the game.
Garcia (23-8) was a rock in the circle for UCLA, tossing six innings, allowing just one run on three hits. While the redshirt freshman recorded just two strikeouts, she remained effective and kept a clamp down on the Aggie offense.
“Started off with my strength pitches,” Garcia said of her outing. “Then once we get through the lineup a couple times, I think just working in those off speeds just to keep them off balance, keep them on their toes.”
The Bruins got on the board quick, as Perez snuck a solo-homer over the left centerfield fence in the top of the first.
“We’re always trying to do our best to get the ball rolling right from the bat,” Perez said of grabbing the early lead. “Just being able to step up for my team and get something going was important and kind of gave us the confidence to – just to get the ball rolling.”
UCLA caught a break adding to its lead in the second, as Spaulding sent a two-RBI single into right field, scoring Garcia and Bubba Nickles. When Nickles came to the plate, however, it appeared catcher Ashley Walters tagged the centerfielder on the arm, but the home plate umpire said otherwise, calling her safe.
“The throw came from Tori (Vidales), and I just knew where my feet were.  I thought I had the tag,” Walters said. “But at that point in the play, you can’t change what happens, so we just had to move forward with it, move on to the next at-bat
Riley Sartain gave a breath of life into the A&M bats in the fourth, smashing a solo-home run to centerfield, cutting UCLA’s lead to two.
Things got heated in the sixth after the Aggies turned a wild 2-6-2-5-4 double play on a double-steal attempt by UCLA with runners on the corners. Shortstop Kristen Cuyos got in a rundown chasing Nickles at first, but then threw the ball home to Walters as Gabrielle Maurice was trying to score.
The tag resulted in a hard collision, but Walters was able to toss the ball to Sartain at third, ultimately getting Nickles in a rundown between second and third.
“The throw kind of took my arm that way,” Walters said of the collision at the plate. “I ended up throwing it to Riley (Sartain) to get the double play somehow, but I’m glad we got out of that inning quickly.”
The play at the plate produced more drama, however, as UCLA first base coach Lisa Fernandez was not happy with Walters’ position and tag on Maurice, resulting in her ejection.
“What you saw with myself and Coach (Lisa) Fernandez is I’m not going to tolerate allowing the players to put themselves in position to possibly getting hurt,” UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “That is ultimately the job of the officials. We all simply had each other’s backs.”
With the Aggies season coming to a close, there is still much to hold their heads high and much to look forward to in the 2018 campaign.
“This year was a really great year for us,” Sartain concluded. “We’re only getting years of experience under our belt.  We’re getting bigger, stronger, faster in the offseason.  As sad as I am to see (the seniors) go, I’m also excited for the future to see what this program has for us.”

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