Three Bruin Home Runs Lead UCLA Past Michigan State at NCAA Regionals
May 17, 2003
FRESNO, CA - Home runs by Emily Zaplaotsch, Claire Sua and Tairia Mims powered UCLA past Michigan State on Saturday afternoon at Bulldog Diamond by a score of 6-2. UCLA advances to the NCAA Regional 2 Championship game at noon on Sunday, where they will again face Michigan State as the Spartans eliminated host Fresno State later in the day.
The Bruins allowed two unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning, giving Michigan State an early 2-0 lead. After Sandy Lewis earned the first hit of the game with one out in the inning, Natalie Furrow put a ball through the right side of the infield that was mis-handled by the Bruins and squibbed into right field, allowing Lewis to score from first base and advancing Furrow to third base. As Tiffany Wallace struck out for the second out of the inning, Bruin catcher Emily Zaplatosch had a chance to pick off Furrow, but the throw back to third by Zaplatosch was not handled cleanly, and Furrow was able to come in for the second run for the Spartans.
In the top of the second, Zaplatosch led off the inning with a home run over the fence in right center field, cutting Michigan State's lead in half. UCLA would then go on to load the bases, as Toria Auelua singled and was replaced by pinch runner Amanda Simpson. A single through the right side by Monique Mejia advanced Simpson to second, and Andrea Duran put down a sacrifice bunt to move the pair into scoring position. An intentional walk to Natasha Watley loaded the bases, but the Bruins were unable to capitalize, stranding three runners and trailing 2-1.
Claire Sua followed the example of Zaplatosch in the third inning, leading off with a monstrous shot to left field that nearly reached Cedar Street beyond the left field bleachers, tying the game at 2-2.
A seventh-inning rally started with a one-out single up the middle by Caitlin Benyi, who came around to score on a home run to center field by Tairia Mims that gave UCLA a 4-2 lead. Claire Sua then reached on a Spartan error and was replaced by pinch-runner Julie Hoshizaki, who advancd to second on a single by Stephanie Ramos. Both baserunners came around to score on a double to right field by Emily Zaplatosch, bringing the score to 6-2 in UCLA's favor.
Keira Goerl struck out six and walked one en route to her 34th victory of the season. That win sets a new UCLA single-season record, surpassing the total of 33 set by Lisa Fernandez in 1993 and Courtney Dale during UCLA's 1999 NCAA Championship run.
The Bruins will return to action on Sunday at noon against Michigan State. Following their loss to UCLA, the Spartans defeated host Fresno State by a score of 2-0 to earn a spot in Sunday's championship game.