In a back-and-forth battle between No. 17 Arizona and No. 15 UCLA in front of a sold out crowd at Hillenbrand Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the Bruins edged the Wildcats 8-6, thanks, in part, to a sixth-inning grand slam.
The Wildcats (31-13, 8-5 Pac-12) entered the day 26-1 when scoring more than three runs, but UA's traditionally dominant pitching staff was unable to keep the Bruin bats at bay, as UCLA (29-12-1, 10-4-1 Pac-12) scored eight runs on 13 hits against two Wildcat pitchers.
Meanwhile, Arizona's offense managed success against UCLA starter Johanna Grauer, scoring six runs on nine hits, including a two-run home run off the bat of Lauren Young.
After falling into a 2-0 hole in the third inning, UA struck back with four runs to take a 4-2 lead. Two UCLA homers would turn the tide though, as Mysha Sataraka hit a two-run homer in the fifth to tie the game and Delaney Spaulding hit a grand slam in the sixth to break the tie.
UA battled back with Young's home run cutting the deficit in half in the sixth.
Arizona put the tying runs on base with one out in the seventh, but they were stranded.
UCLA put two runs on the board in the top of the third after the Wildcats were a strike from getting out of trouble. Arizona, which had limited Pac-12 opponents to a .165 batting average with two out and just seven two-out RBI in league play, gave up two, two-out runs to fall into the early hole.
Arizona responded in the bottom of the third. With runners at second and third with two out, Mo Mercado sent a grounder to short. Spaulding's throw to first was high, allowing two runs to score. Tamara Statman followed with a single to score Mercado and put UA up 3-2.
In the fourth, Ashleigh Hughes extended her hitting streak to a career-long 10 games with a two-out RBI single to put the Cats on top 4-2.
The two-run advantage would be short-lived however, as three batters into the fifth, UCLA tied the game with a home run.
In the sixth, two tough-luck infield singles and a HBP loaded the bases with one out. The Wildcats went to the bullpen, replacing starter Danielle O'Toole with Taylor McQuillin. Spaulding greeted her with a grand slam.
Lauren Young hit a two-run homer in the sixth to cut the deficit in half.
Katiyana Mauga started the bottom of the seventh with a sharp grounder to the right side. UCLA second baseman Kylee Perez made a diving play to rob Mauga of a hit. This became especially important after the next two Wildcat batters singled. Pinch hitter Nancy Bowling nearly ended the game with an opposite field home run, but her walkoff bid fell just short onto the warning track in right before a groundout ended the game.
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