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Huskies surge in the sixth to win series opener over No. 3 UCLA

Huskies surge in the sixth to win series opener over No. 3 UCLA

Baylee Klingler rounds first base after a hitting a 3 RBI homerun during Washingtons match against Oregon on March 12, 2023 at Husky Softball Stadium. Klingler launched the deciding home run in Washington's 4-3 victory over No. 3 UCLA on Friday night.

In a highly anticipated top-10 matchup, the No. 10 Washington softball team delivered clutch runs late to defeat No. 3 UCLA in a late-inning thriller.

Junior pitcher Lindsay Lopez (5-2) was in excellent form Friday, striking out five batters while allowing just three hits and a run through three innings.

Fifth-year Baylee Klingler continued her scorching hot start by going 2 for 4 with two hits and the deciding home run. Fifth-year SilentRain Espinoza collected two RBIs on the day.

The Huskies (22-4, 3-1 Pac-12) found themselves in scoring position early in the first with runners on first and second and one out, but ultimately left the runners stranded with a strikeout and line out.

The Bruins (25-3, 2-2 Pac-12) could not get things going offensively in the first, but it was much of the same for the Huskies in the second.

After placing runners on first and second with one out, the Huskies failed to capitalize after a pair of flyouts left the runners stranded on base again.

Lopez continued her strong start by striking out the side in order. 

A quiet third inning from both sides, with UCLA picking up the lone hit, gave the Huskies another opportunity in the fourth. 

The Huskies took advantage and struck first.

A leadoff walk from sophomore Olivia Johnson and an infield error put runners on first and third for the Huskies. Sophomore Rylee Holtorf stole second base to move the runners into scoring position and Espinoza picked up the RBI with an infield groundout.

But the Bruins responded right away.

A leadoff single and a hit by pitch put runners on first and second before freshman pitcher Ruby Meylan (10-1) entered the circle, replacing Lopez. An RBI single for the Bruins tied the game before the Huskies escaped with a strikeout and double play to end the inning.

The Huskies had a runner on third with one out in the fifth inning but failed to score, taking a 1-1 game into the bottom of the frame.

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Meylan was dealing in the fifth, tossing a pair of strikeouts and forcing a groundout to earn a quick 1-2-3 inning.

Then, the Huskies’ offensive firepower took over in the sixth.

After a leadoff walk, Holtorf singled to left field for her second hit of the game. With freshman Brooklyn Carter coming in as a pinch runner at second, the Huskies pulled off a double steal to place runners on second and third.

Espinoza delivered a sacrifice fly to score Carter and advance Holtorf to third, followed by an RBI groundout from senior Kelley Lynch to take a 3-1 lead.

With two outs, Klingler did what she does best, launching a solo shot over the center field wall to take a 4-1 lead into the bottom frame. 

The Bruins responded again in the sixth.

With runners on first and second and one out, UCLA crossed the plate with an RBI single. A two-out RBI single a few batters later cut the lead to 4-3.

The Huskies entered the seventh inning needing a few insurance runs to prevent a comeback. However, the Huskies could not capitalize, leaving fifth-year Sami Reynolds stranded on second base. 

Meylan needed three outs to conclude the game against the top of the Bruins’ lineup, and they certainly did not come easy.

After forcing back-to-back groundouts for two early outs, a double off the top of the wall put the winning run at the plate. Meylan closed it out with a clutch strikeout to give the Huskies a 4-3 win. 

Washington will look to win its first road conference series of the season as it faces UCLA again on Saturday, March 18, at 2 p.m. in Los Angeles.

Reach reporter Vinny Speziale at Twitter: @vinnyspeziale

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