FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton softball team saw its five-game winning streak come to an end after dropping a one-run contest by a score of 5-4 to No. 16/18 UCLA on a wild pitch that scored the eventual game-winning run in the seventh inning.
With the loss, the Titans fall to 25-10, while the Bruins improve to 20-10-1.
The Titans scored all four of their runs in the first two innings as they took an early 4-1 lead. Cal State Fullerton's first two runs came on a two-run homer off the bat of Sarah Moore who sent a long ball to deep centerfield which scored Alexis Gonzalez who had reached base on a walk. The home run was the first of the year for Moore.
UCLA cut Fullerton's lead in half in the top of the second as the Bruins countered with a homer of their own – a solo shot by Madeline Jelenicki. The roundtripper put an end to Cal State Fullerton starter Desiree Ybarra's scoreless inning streak. Up until that point, Ybarra had pitched 16.2 scoreless innings and had not allowed an earned run in 37.1 innings of work.
With a one-run lead, the Titans added a pair in the bottom of the frame to go up by three (4-1) as they put together a two-out rally. Delynn Rippy got things going with an infield single and moved to second on a base hit to left by Samantha Vandiver. UCLA's starter Johanna Grauer loaded the bases after walking Missy Taukeiaho before giving up a two-run single to Gonzalez.
The Bruins made a pitching change and Selina Ta'amilo came on in relief and got out of the inning. She was effective in shutting down the Titans for the rest of the game as she scattered two hits over 5.1 innings of work, while striking out five and not allowing a walk.
Ybarra gave up a two-run home run to Delaney Spaulding in the third before allowing UCLA to tie the game at 4-4 in the fourth on a pair of walks and an RBI-single.
The game remained tied until the seventh inning as Ybarra and Ta'amilo matched each other inning for inning.
However, Ybarra found herself in a jam in the top of the seventh when Kylee Perez to reach on a bunt single. Perez was sacrificed to second and moved to third on a grounder to second before Ybarra walked Imani Johnson to put runners at the corners with two outs.
With the game on the line, Cal State Fullerton made a pitching change and brought in Jasmine Antunez in relief of Ybarra. Antunez walked Jelenicki and in the process threw a wild pitch that allowed Perez to score the eventual game-winning run from third before getting out of the frame.
Down to their final three outs, the Titans got a one-out double from Vandiver but were unable to drive her in as Cal State Fullerton dropped a heartbreaker to nationally-ranked UCLA.
Ybarra (7-5) suffered the loss after pitching 6.2 innings of work and allowing five runs on six hits. She walked seven and fanned three. Antunez allowed one walk in just 0.1 innings pitched.
Ta'amilo (9-2) earned the win as she tossed 5.1 innings of shutout softball in relief of Grauer who allowed four runs on four hits in 1.2 innings. Grauer walked three and struck out two in the no decision.
Both teams tallied six hits in the game and Vandiver was the only one on both sides to record a multi-hit game with a single in the second and a double in the seventh. She finished the game batting 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Moore was 1-for-3 at the plate with a home run, two RBIs and a run scored, while Gonzalez was 1-for-3 with two RBIs, a run and a walk. Rippy and Courtney Rodriguez contributed the Titans' remaining two hits.
Cal State Fullerton opens Big West Conference action Saturday, April 2 against UC Riverside. The Titans and the Highlanders will meet in a doubleheader that begins at 2 p.m.