Cats Drop Big Game To UCLA

May 10, 2002

LOS ANGELES-- UCLA pitching ace Keira Goerl overcame a strange outing but Arizona stranded 10 runners and the top-ranked Bruins got the big hit from NCAA career home run leader Stacey Nuveman to beat No. 2 Arizona, 4-2, at Easton Stadium Friday afternoon.

The game was pivotal to both teams' bids for the Pacific-10 Conferenc title and chances at being named a host team for NCAA Regional action May 16-19. UCLA improved to 16-3 in league action and 48-6 overall, while Arizona dropped to 15-4 and 48-8.

In the event of a tie -- two more games remain for both clubs -- UCLA would have the edge in head-to-head competition and earn the Pac-10's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

UA pitcher Jennie Finch scattered six hits, but three of them came in the Bruins' third, capped by Nuveman's 18th home run of the year. Finch (29-3), struck out seven and walked two, including Nuveman intentionally in the first.

Goerl (27-4) struck out 12, gave up six hits, walked four and watched her teammates commit three errors. It was the 11h time this year she has struck out 10 or more in a game. Arizona had base runners in all but the final inning.

UA lead-off batter Lovie Jung hit the first pitch of the game over the right field fence to give UA a quick 1-0 lead. After Leneah Manuma struck out, Finch walked. Mackenzie Vandergeest singled to move Finch into scoring position, but Goerl struck out Jackie Coburn to end the inning.

In the Arizona second, Jenny Gladding led off with a single, but pinch-runner Lisha Ribellia was caught stealing when Carrie Hagen struck out swinging. Goerl struck out Crystal Farley for the third out.

The Cats wasted another opportunity in the third, loading the bases with a one-out hit by Courtney Fossatti, a throwing error by Goerl on a Finch grounder and a walk to Manuma. But Goerl struck out Vandergeest and got Coburn to pop up.

The Bruins took the lead in the third. Shortstop Natasha Watley tripled to right field with one out and after Finch got Amanda Freed to ground back to the circle, Tairia Mims singled to left to tie the game. Nuveman then blasted a home run to left to give UCLA a 3-1 lead.

The Cats cut into the lead with an unearned run but also stranded runners in the fourth. Gladding walked and was forced at second by Carrie Hagen. Crystal Farley hit an infield single and Lovie Jung walked to load the bases.

Fossatti hit a chopper to third and UCLA's Toria Auelua's throw to the plate hit Hagen's helmet and bounced away, allowing her to score. Goerl, however, struck out Finch and got Manuma on a bouncer to short to strand three runners.

Finch gave up a bunt single to Crissy Buck in the UCLA fourth, but struck out the side. Goerl reached 10 strikeouts in the fifth and registered her first 1-2-3 and hitless inning. In the Bruins' fifth, Finch recorded two quick outs on a foul fly and strikeout, then got in a jam walking Mims and hitting Nuveman with a pitch, but ended the threat by striking out Claire Sua.

In the top of the sixth, with one out Farley reached on a rare throwing error by Watley, and Jung singledoff Aeulua's glove. But Goerl got pinch-hitter Candace Abrams on a called third strike and got Finch to ground to short.

UCLA got an insurance run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Auelua doubled to right-center and scored on a bloop single by Monique Mejia.

Jung's homer was her 16th of the year, second on the team to Manuma's 19. Nuveman has 88 career home runs, and eclipsed a UA duo last week which held the mark of 85 -- former shortstop Laura Espinoza and former catcher Leah Braatz.

The Cats conclude the regular season with a doubleheader at Washington Saturday, while UCLA plays host to Arizona State in a doubleheader.

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