TUCSON, AZ - Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza hit a two-run go-ahead home run in the top of the seventh inning and sixth-ranked Arizona Softball defeated No. 3 UCLA, 5-3, on Thursday, handing Pac-12 Player and Pitcher of the Year Rachel Garcia her first loss of the season.
UCLA’s Garcia entered the game a perfect 20-0 with a 0.71 ERA and not allowed more than one home run in a game all of 2019.
Arizona got to Garcia for five runs on six hits, all five runs scoring on three homers from the Cats. The three home runs came at key moments in the game for Arizona, as the Cats fought back from two separate deficits in the game. Rylee Pierce hit a game-tying solo home run in the fourth, Jessie Harper hit a game-tying two-run homer in the fifth and then Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza hit the eventual game-winner, a two-run homer to break a 3-3 tie in the top of the seventh.
Palomino-Cardoza finished her terrific seventh with a diving catch onto the warning track in deep left center field to help turn away the Bruins in the home half of the seventh and help Taylor McQuillin (20-7) shut the door.
The Wildcats’ win was just their second this season (2-8) against a Top 5 ranked opponent. It kept their Pac-12 Championship hopes alive. Arizona (41-11, 18-4 Pac-12) would need to sweep UCLA (45-4, 19-3 Pac-12) to win at least a share of the conference title. #2 Washington (43-7, 18-4) beat Stanford 5-2 to remain even with UA in the standings.
The Wildcats and Bruins meet in Game 2 on Friday at 5 p.m. MST.
You can read more about Thursday night’s huge victory over at ArizonaWildcats.com.