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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Minnesota was building momentum in its first Women's College World Series appearance.
UCLA's Aaliyah Jordan crushed it. Her three-run homer in the sixth inning helped UCLA beat the Golden Gophers 7-2 on Thursday at the Women's College World Series.
Minnesota had just rallied to cut its deficit to 3-2 in its half of the sixth inning before Jordan's blast gave Rachel Garcia the support she needed. Garcia, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, pitched a complete game for the second-seeded Bruins (52-6).
"I think it's really important for us to have Rachel's back," Jordan said. "She's done a lot. I know her shoulder is about to fall off. I think to have her back, to put up a lot of runs is important for us."
UCLA will play Pac-12 rival Arizona on Friday for a spot in the semifinals. Arizona won two of the three meetings earlier in May.
"Just be ourselves, continue to do what we do, have a plan," UCLA's centerfielder Bubba Nickles said. "We already faced them three times this year. I really think that's going to let us have a better plan this time when we face them tomorrow.
Amber Fiser, an NFCA first-team All-American, took the loss. She gave up seven runs, but just three earned, in 5 2/3 innings for the seventh-seeded Golden Gophers. Jordan's homer came after an error, so all three of those runs were unearned.
"Fiser battled," Minnesota coach Jamie Trachsel said. "When our offense scored the two runs, we got ourselves back in the game. Then we also talked about UCLA doesn't give up. When they have two outs, they actually score a lot of runs. We extended that inning a little bit. They made us pay for it."
Minnesota (46-13) will play Washington on Saturday in an elimination game.
"We've experienced so many great moments this entire season, especially the last couple weekends," Trachsel said. "We win together and we'll lose together. No finger pointing, take ownership, be accountable. We'll learn, make adjustments like we have this entire year."
UCLA got on the board in the first inning when Nickles hit a solo homer to left field. Kinsley Washington walked with the bases loaded to push UCLA's lead to 2-0 in the second and Taylor Pack's sacrifice fly scored Jordan in the third to make it 3-0.
Minnesota scored its first World Series run in the sixth when Natalie DenHartog doubled to score Maddie Houlihan. Allie Arneson's single scored DenHartog to make it 3-2.
"I don't think there was a moment where I didn't think we were in the game," DenHartog said. "We saw Garcia well. At the end of the day, you have to tip your hat. We just didn't see her well enough. I never thought there was a moment where we didn't have a chance or we weren't in it."
Washington scored for UCLA in the sixth, then Jordan hit her homer to put the Bruins up 7-2.
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