Thanks to a huge sixth inning, the Oregon Ducks (17-19, 2-8) earned their biggest win of the season thus far with a 4-3 upset over No. 1-ranked UCLA to open their three-game series against the Bruins (35-2, 9-1) Friday night at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles.
Oregon’s win marks UCLA’s first loss in Pac-12 play and ends the Bruins’ 19-game winning streak. The game also marks the Ducks’ third consecutive win over the Bruins after winning two out of three games in the series last year in Eugene.
The Ducks were down 2-0 to start the sixth inning, but with a long hit double into the left fence pocket from freshman Jasmine Sievers, junior Haley Cruse was able to run home and get the Ducks their first run of the game. The Ducks then erupted with a center-field two-run home run from April Utecht to score Sievers. Oregon ended the inning with its first lead of the game, 3-2, over the No. 1 Bruins.
“We got a lot of freshmen on this team, but they can hit,” Oregon pitcher Jordan Dail told Pac-12 announcer Anne Marie Anderson following the game. “We’ve faced some pretty tough pitching this year all throughout our schedule. We’ve had a really tough schedule. So we've already faced the best of the best. We’re not afraid to go against anybody anymore.”
An inning later, freshman Rachel Cid scored Oregon’s final run by blasting a home run off the first pitch she saw to earn Oregon’s biggest lead of the game, 4-2.
The Bruins responded in the bottom of the seventh with strong hits but were ultimately only able to score one additional run off a home run from junior Bubba Nickles to make the final score 4-3. Dail secured the upset win with a final out strikeout of UCLA’s Aaliyah Jordan.
Prior to the final two innings, UCLA held a lead over the Ducks after scoring the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth.
The Bruins earned their second run after one of Dail’s pitches hit Kelli Godin above the knee and placed her at first. UCLA then followed with a bunt and a single to score Godin for the Bruins’ largest lead of the game 2-0, going into the sixth.
The first three innings were quiet from both teams, as Dail only allowed one hit and UCLA’s Megan Faraimo (12-2) allowed two.
Utecht and Cid both hit their eighth home runs of the season, while Utecht led the Ducks with two RBIs. Dail (14-8) pitched all seven innings for Oregon and ended the game with 12 strikeouts and allowed six hits in 136 total pitches.
Oregon sophomore utility player, Shaye Bowden did not play in the game due to injury.
The Ducks and Bruins will meet again for game two of the series Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni