OKLAHOMA CITY — When things got tough for UCLA, Megan Faraimo took charge.
Faraimo pitched a complete game and hit a solo homer, helping the fifth-seeded Bruins beat No. 9 Northwestern 6-1 in a Women’s College World Series elimination game Friday night.
Faraimo loaded the bases for Northwestern’s Rachel Lewis in the fifth. Lewis entered the night with 23 home runs and had knocked one out on Thursday against Oklahoma. After Lewis got to a 3-0 count, Faraimo struck her out looking to escape.
“I just told myself to throw strikes because I felt like no matter what, whether she gets a hit, whether I get her, my team was going to have my back either way,” Faraimo said. “I just wanted to get us back in the dugout.”
Faraimo led off for UCLA (49-9) in the sixth. Her solo shot — just her second home run of the season — put the Bruins up 3-1.
“Hitting is hard,” she said. “But every time I go up to bat, I just try to have a quality at-bat. For me, that looks like I’m really going to see the ball in, do whatever I can to get on base. I don’t care what it looks like. I just want to be able to do that for my teammates.”
UCLA tacked on three runs in the seventh for insurance.
Faraimo (23-5) gave up five hits and struck out 10. Maya Brady had three hits for the Bruins, who will play in another elimination game Sunday against the loser of Saturday’s Florida-Oklahoma State matchup.
Danielle Williams (31-6) took the loss for Northwestern (45-13). The first-team NFCA All-American pitched a complete game and gave up 10 hits. She threw 136 pitches a day after throwing three innings in the loss to Oklahoma.
Northwestern coach Kate Drohan praised Williams’ mental approach during the rough two days.
“What she’s able to do on the field is so selfless, and that’s, I think, really interesting for a pitcher who has literally carried us, to be so humble about it and never get frustrated about if she doesn’t have run support or [has] an error behind her,”
It still was quite a journey for a Northwestern team that was making its first World Series appearance since 2007.
“It’s meant everything,” Lewis said. “I think we’ve tried to get better and better every year. I think we’ve been pretty successful at that, and hopefully they come back next year even stronger.”
UCLA’s Delanie Wisz singled to score Kinsley Washington in the top of the first inning for the game’s first run.
In the fourth, UCLA loaded the bases. Washington popped up and Northwestern’s Angela Zedak couldn’t quite get to it. Savannah Pola scored on the error to put the Bruins up 2-0.
Zedak made up for it in the fifth. She singled, then scored on a double by Grace Nieto to trim UCLA’s lead to 2-1 before Faraimo escaped.
Northwestern, which rallied from down 5-0 to win Game 3 of its super regional against Arizona State, couldn’t muster another comeback.
“Our team emptied the tank,” Drohan said. “I mean, they were gassed. And I think they were still ready to play tonight. They gave every ounce of themselves to the game, to each other, and they gave it their all.”
In Friday’s other elimination game, Carlie Scupin had three hits to help Arizona defeat fellow Pac-12 member Oregon State 3-1.
Arizona coach Caitlin Lowe claimed her first World Series victory in her first season since replacing the retired Mike Candrea. Under Candrea, the Wildcats won eight national titles.
“It feels awesome,” Lowe said. “I told them after the game that they were meant for this stage, and I truly believed they were going to chip away and make it happen. Nothing really got too big. They were amped at the beginning of the game, but they knew they were going to win that game on this stage. That’s a big deal.”
This Arizona team took a different road than previous ones. The Wildcats (39-21) lost their first eight conference games this season and finished tied for last in the league before turning things around.
Hanah Bowen (14-11) got the win with two innings of shutout relief. Arizona advanced to play the loser of Saturday’s Oklahoma-Texas game in an elimination game on Sunday.
Arizona advanced to play the loser of Saturday’s Oklahoma-Texas game in an elimination game on Sunday.
Oregon State’s Mariah Mazon, a NFCA third-team All-American pitcher, did not play in Thursday’s loss to Florida.
“Unfortunately yesterday, I wasn’t feeling well,” she said. “I was required to stay back from the game because of medical staff requiring me to stay back.”
The missed opportunity made showing up Friday more important.
“I just wanted to come out here and do it for my team,” she said. “Unfortunately, we came up short. But we gave our all. Just came up short.”
Mazon was strong for most of the game, but Arizona finally got to her in the sixth inning. Scupin doubled to score Amber Toven. Then, Blaise Biringer singled to drive in Giulia Koutsoyanopulos, giving the Wildcats a 3-1 lead.
Mazon (17-12) gave up six hits in six innings. The fifth-year senior said she accomplished her goals at Oregon State.
“When I was recruited … Oregon State wasn’t really a big-name school,” she said. “I thought like, I want to be that person that comes in and creates a name for Oregon State. I think that I kind of did what I came here to do. It’s just been a great experience. I’m so glad.”
Oregon State (39-22) got two runners on with two outs in the seventh, but did not score. The Beavers were proud of their surprising run and their first World Series appearance since 2006 and believe more success lies ahead.
“They got a taste of it. It’s like blood in the water now,” Oregon State coach Laura Berg said. “They’re sharks. We got to go after what it is we want. If we want to come back here, we need to get better at the things we need to work on.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.