Dramatic Seventh-Inning Rally Puts Bruins in NCAA Championship Game

May 25, 2003

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A heart-stopping seventh inning rally that ended on an RBI single by Caitlin Benyi gave UCLA a 2-1 victory over Texas on Sunday night at Don E. Porter Hall of Fame Stadium. The Bruins will face California in the NCAA Championship game at 1:30 pm Pacific Time on Monday afternoon, a game that will be broadcast live on ESPN. Keira Goerl earned the win in the circle, and was the 98th victory of her Bruin career, making her UCLA's all-time winningest pitcher.

Texas posted an unearned run in the top of the first inning as lead-off hitter Lyndsay Gardner reached on a Bruin error, and was awarded second base when the umpires ruled that the errant throw made it into the dugout and out of play. Gardner advanced to third on a ground-out by Tina Boutelle and came home on an RBI single by Chez Sievers to give the Longhorns a 1-0 lead.

Natasha Watley led off the bottom of the first inning with a bunt single and easily stole second base, but UCLA was unable to push a run across in the inning.

Texas led off the second inning with a double by Tamara Poppe, who was replaced by pinch-runner Tiffany Anders. Anders advanced to second on a single to left by designated player Amber Hall. Sarah Wieszczak then put down a suicide bunt that was fielded by Bruin catcher Emily Zaplatosch, who was able to tag Anders at the plate for the first out of the inning. UCLA was able to prevent another Longhorn run, keeping the score at 1-0.

The Bruins led off the fourth inning with a line-drive single by Claire Sua, who was replaced by pinch-runner Julie Hoshizaki. After Emily Zaplatosch drew a one-out walk, she was replaced by pinch runner Alissa Eno, but the pair was unable to advance further and Texas held onto a 1-0 lead after four innings

All the drama came together in the bottom of the seventh inning. Toria Auelua led off for the Bruins, but became the 13th strikeout victim of Texas ace Cat Osterman. Senior Monique Mejia, whose error had created the lone Texas run, was next to the plate, and responded with a hit through the left side of the infield, her first hit of the day against Osterman.

From there, Andrea Duran was able to put down a critical bunt, advancing Mejia to second base. Another senior, Natasha Watley, then stepped in and put an 0-1 pitch up the middle of the Texas infield, just to the right of Osterman and just out of diving range to the left of Longhorn shortstop Chez Sievers. The hit scored Mejia from second base, and Watley advanced to second base on the throw.

With two outs and a tie game freshman right fielder Caitlin Benyi, who had struck out in each of her previous three plate appearances in the game,put the first pitch she saw into right field for a hit, scoring Watley from second base and ending the game with a 2-1 UCLA victory.

Keira Goerl earned the victory in the circle, her 39th of the season, and with that win she became UCLA's all-time career victories leader, surpassing Amanda Freed (1999-2003) with her 98th career victory.

UCLA will now face California at 3:30 pm Central Time (1:30 pm Pacific Time) on Monday for the National Championship. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.

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