MATTHIAS DEALS, BUT SOFTBALL FALLS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT PLAY TO #2 UCLA, 3-0

MATTHIAS DEALS, BUT SOFTBALL FALLS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT PLAY TO #2 UCLA, 3-0

NCAA Interactive Bracket
Los Angeles Regional Central

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA's Rachel Garcia and Sacramento State's Celina Matthias were locked in a pitchers duel early on, but the second-ranked Bruins scratched across three runs in the fifth inning to eventually beat the Hornets, 3-0, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's Los Angeles Regional on Friday evening.

Garcia and Matthias had combined to allow just two hits through the first four innings as the game remained scoreless. However, UCLA's offense, ranked fourth in the nation in scoring, broke through for three runs in the fifth.

Sacramento State, which was playing its first NCAA Tournament game since 2008, dropped to 31-19 with the loss. The Hornets will play again in the double-elimination Regional tomorrow against 22nd-ranked Texas State at 4:30 p.m. That game will air on ESPN3. Tonight's game was aired on ESPN2, marking the first time that Sacramento State Softball had appeared on a nationally televised game on ESPN. Every game of the Los Angeles Regional is being played at Easton Stadium, which is UCLA's home field.

UCLA, which is ranked second in the nation and is the tournament's No. 3 overall seed, improved to 51-4 overall and will play in a winner's bracket game tomorrow at 2 p.m. vs. Cal State Fullerton. In today's other Regional game, Cal State Fullerton beat Texas State, 2-1.

Sacramento State advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning both the Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles. The Hornets were playing UCLA for the first time since 2011.

In tonight's game, Garcia threw a one-hit shutout, striking out 14 batters while walking two. She held the Hornets hitless until Sydney Rasmussen's one-out double in the seventh inning. Sacramento State had runners in scoring position in two separate innings, but could not push across a run.

That included the fifth when a pair of walks put runners at first and second with two outs, and the seventh when Rasmussen got to third after a delayed steal with one out. The win allowed Garcia, who is the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year and a reigning All-American, to improve her record to 22-2 this season.

Meanwhile, Matthias, who is a two-time Big Sky Conference Pitcher of the Year, allowed UCLA just two hits through the first four innings. However, after Matthias retired the first batter of the fifth, the Bruins got a walk and three consecutive singles to score three times. The big blow was a two-run single from Briana Perez which capped the inning's scoring.

Matthias allowed just six hits and three runs while striking out four over six innings against the Bruins' high-powered offense. She needed just 83 pitches to work six innings and her record now stands at 20-10 with a 2.00 ERA.

"Our starting battery of Celina Matthias and catcher Jessica Scott was phenomenal tonight," Sacramento State head coach Lori Perez said. "Celina hit her spots and Jess did a great job framing and blocking behind the plate.

"The team was hungry, played with no fear and grinded throughout the game. More and more, we prove to ourselves that we can play with the best teams in the nation. Unfortunately, we did not capitalize on some RBI opportunities tonight, but I was proud of the team's effort."

The loser of tomorrow's Sacramento State-Texas State matchup will be eliminated from the Regional. The winner will face the loser of the UCLA-Cal State Fullerton game at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow evening.