Softball Falls in Middle Game Against No. 3 UCLA, 2-0
LOS ANGELES – Utah softball (23-24, 5-12) fell in another close game against third-ranked UCLA (39-5, 15-2) on Saturday night at Easton Stadium, giving up a run in the first and third inning to lose 2-0.
Southpaw Mariah Lopez was given the starting nod for the 14th time this season and threw a strong full six innings, giving up two runs off four hits, walked three batters and struck out seven in total. Lopez picked the loss and is now 5-5 this year.
Jordyn Gasper was the only Ute to record a hit in the game as Denning reached off an error by the UCLA shortstop in the top of the seventh and was just Utah's second baserunner of the night.
The Utes move to 5-12 in Pac-12 play and are 23-24 overall on the year.
Final: Bruins 2, Utes 0
The Utes went down in order in the opening frame of the game as Bonstrom drove a loud hit to center field, but didn't get enough of it as it was reeled in at the wall to end the inning.
The lefty Lopez stepped into the circle in the UCLA half of the first and after retiring the first two batters she faced, hit the next and a bad hop towards second would put Bruins on the corners with two away. The following batter drove a ball into the left infield gap and Denning made a smooth back hand play, but the throw wasn't in time as UCLA would score and jump out in front, 1-0 after the first.
The next six Utah batters were retired in order to continue the offensive struggles this series. Catcher Katie Faulk made her presence known behind the plate throwing out her second base runner of the weekend trying to swipe second. This was Faulk's 10th caught-stealing of the year.
.@katie_faulk15 catches her second base runner of the series????
— Utah Softball (@Utah_Softball) May 1, 2022
UCLA added another in their half of the third inning hitting a deep shot of the top of the center field wall, taking a big Bruin bounce back into the play to allow the UCLA batter to score at home for an inside the park home run.
In the fourth, Lopez needed just two pitches to pick up the first two outs but would walk the ensuing batter to keep the Bruins alive. A fielder's choice to Denning ended the frame.
Gasper found the first hit of the game for the Utes in the top of the fifth with one away. Although, the next Utah batters were unable to advance Gasper fouling and flying out to leave her stranded.
Lopez picked up two more strikeouts in the bottom of the frame and would need to work around a two-out bunt single as a throwing error by Faulk advanced the runner to second. Lopez walked her second batter of the night to put two Bruins aboard and came back with a strikeout to close the door on the opportunity.
It was a brisk sixth inning for both teams as Utah went down 1-2-3 and after Lopez walked the first Bruin of the side, bounced back putting away the next three batters including her seventh strikeout.
Down to their last three outs, Denning hit a hot shot to the UCLA shortstop and reached safely putting some pressure on the UCLA defense. Bonstrom followed flying out to right field as Jimenez hit into a 4-6-3 double play that ended the game and clinched the series for the Bruins.
The third and final game of the series will take place tomorrow starting at 1 p.m. MT at Easton Stadium. The game can be seen via live stream provided by UCLA Athletics and live stats will also be available for the contest.
Fans can keep up with live game action and highlights by following @Utah_Softball on Twitter.