Watley's Walk-Off Home Run Sinks Stanford, 3-2
April 27, 2003
LOS ANGELES - Natasha Watley hit her sixth home run of the season to tie the game at two in the fifth inning, then slammed her seventh of the year to lead off the eighth as UCLA downed Stanford 3-2 in eight innings on Sunday afternoon at Easton Stadium. The Bruins improve to 39-5 (11-3 Pac-10), while Stanford falls to 35-20 (5-10 Pac-10) with the loss.
The game was a back-and-forth battle throughout. Stanford loaded the bases in the top of the tihrd inning, as Maureen LeCocq was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and was replaced by pinch-runner Heather Shook. After a single to center by Elizabeth Bendig, Jessica Allister put down a bunt that was picked up by Bruin pitcher Keira Goerl, who threw to third base, but the throw was not in time, so the Cardinal had the bases loaded with nobody out. A fly ball by Catalina Morris was deep enough to score Shook on a sacrifice fly, giving Stanford the 1-0 lead. Despite re-loading the bases, the Cardinal was unable to push an additional run across, and took the 1-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning.
The Bruins loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning in similar fashion, as Monique Mejia was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and Andrea Duran singled to left field, giving the Bruins two on with Natasha Watley at the plate. Watley drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Caitlin Benyi, who drew an RBI walk to tie the score at 1-1. The Bruins were unable to take the lead, though, as Tairia Mims lined into a double play, and Claire Sua fouled out to end the inning and the threat, but the game was tied going to the fourth inning.
In the top of the fifth, Jessica Allister led off the inning with a solo home run to left field, giving the Cardinal a 2-1 lead, but Natasha Watley countered for the Bruins in the bottom of the frame, hitting a two-out home run to left field, bringing the score to 2-2.
Both teams were generally struggling with the opposing pitcher, as UCLA's Keira Goerl recorded six strikeouts in the game, while Stanford's Dana Sorensen struck out 12, walked two and hit two.
The top of the sixth inning saw some defensive dramatics, as Cassie Brangham led off with a single to right field, and was out as she was thrown out on Leah Nelson's bunt. Kira Ching then blasted a double to right center field that bounced off of the wall, putting Nelson on the run. UCLA center fielder Stephanie Ramos fielded the ball in the grass, threw a strike to her cut-off, second baseman Monique Mejia, who in turn threw a strike to the plate as the ball, Bruin catcher Emily Zaplatosch, and Nelson converged at the plate. The ball hit Zaplatosch's glove as she was tagging Nelson, just inches before she touched home plate with the go-ahead run, and she was called out by the first base umpire.
Stanford threatened again in the top of the eighth inning, as Nelson drew a one-out walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Megan Bordelon. Bordelon advanced to second on a wild pitch, before Ching responded with a single to center field. Ramos again fielded the ball cleanly, and was able to hold Bordelon at third base, preventing her from scoring the go-ahead run.
Maureen LeCocq was the next Cardinal hitter to step to the plate, but her attempt to put down a sacrifice bunt was popped up instead, leading to another impressive play by the Bruin defense, this time a diving catch by Tairia Mims to snag the ball just before it hit the dirt in front of the plate, recording the second out of the inning. Elizabeth Bendig would then pop out to end the top of the eighth with the score still tied at 2-2.
Watley, who had recorded the final out of the top of the eighth inning as she fielded Bendig's pop fly, stepped to the plate and put a 2-1 pitch from Sorensen over the fence in left center field for a walk-off home run. It was the first multi-home run day of Watley's Bruin career.
Keira Goerl got the win in the circle for the Bruins, improving to 29-5 on the season. Stanford's Dana Sorensen fell to 17-8 with the loss.
UCLA returns to action on Wednesday afternoon in Seattle for a 1 pm first pitch against the Washington Huskies, before returning to Westwood to complete their regular season home schedule against the Oregon schools next weekend.