A sold out crowd of 1046 roared with excitement in the first inning as Jamie Wren launched the ball over the right field fence and brought in three runs to put the 49ers in the lead against a ranked team. This would be the highest point of the game as Long Beach State fell to No. 3 UCLA 5-3 in a battle between the two hosts of the Louisville Slugger Invitational.
Because of the locality of the teams, fans quickly filled the stands and people were denied entry at the start of the game due to insufficient seating. LBSU event staff accomodated by allowing guests to sit in the grass area near the UCLA dugout, and the remaining fans were let into the complex during the first inning.
After a slow start by the Bruins on the offensive end, Long Beach came out strong in the bottom of the first inning. Senior shortstop Nichole Fry fired up the offense when she found herself on base with a low shot up the middle, but was sacrificed at second when sophomore outfielder Naomi Hernandez slapped to the third baseman.
With Hernandez on first, junior designated player Taylor Rowland hit a slow bouncer to the pitcher and an overthrow at second gave both players safety. Cleanup batter senior utility Wren stepped in the box and launched the ball over the right field fence, bringing in three runs and earning her fifth home run of the season.
“It felt good. It was nice to see my team supporting me at the plate and get ahead in the first inning,” Wren said.
The Bruins wasted no time responding when senior outfielder Taylor Pack lead off the lineup in the second inning and sent the ball over the left field fence, earning a solo home run and bringing the score to 3-1.
UCLA attacked again in the third, when freshman left fielder Kelli Godin was walked and junior center fielder Bubba Nickles was hit by a pitch. Sophomore designated player Aaliyah Jordan sent the ball down the right foul line, earning a triple and tying the game 3-3. The tying run was not scored with ease, as Nickles slid around the catcher and brushed the plate with her hand to avoid the tag by sophomore catcher Justine Briones.
With Jordan on second due to the International Tie Breaker, a single by junior first baseman Rachel Garcia and a sacrifice bunt by senior designated hitter Zoe Shaw put runners in scoring position. Head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez made the decision to substitute in sophomore infielder Malia Quarles to pinch hit for senior third baseman Brianna Tautalafua, and this decision ultimately led to the Bruins earning the win. Quarles smashed a double down the left field line and brought in two runs.
The 49ers had a chance to come back in the bottom of the 8th, but were unable to produce additional runs.
“I’m pleased with our effort. I wish we could’ve won that game, but I thought we competed well,” head coach Kim Sowder said. “We need to continue to build from this and continue to get better and let the struggles strengthen us.”
Long Beach faces Boston in the Easton Invitational 11 a.m. Friday at Fullerton.