From the diaries. -N
In need of a strong performance this weekend to extend any hopes of hosting a NCAA Regional Series, UCLA came up with just that in taking 2 out of 3 games from the #10 ranked Arizona State Sundevils. In taking the Pac-10 series, UCLA improved to 23-16 and 7-5 in Pac-10 play.
The series opened up Friday night as each team threw their #1 pitcher: Josh Satow for ASU and Hector Ambriz for UCLA. Both pitchers did extremely well considering both teams ranked near the top of the Pac-10 in every offensive category. Ambriz threw 7 strong innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) with 5 strikeouts. Josh Satow allowed 1 run in 5 innings on an astounding 10 strikeouts. It was a pitchers duel early on as neither team scored until ASU broke the scoreless tie with a run in the 5th. The Bruins came back to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning on a home run by Freshman catcher Ryan Babineau. After a run in both the 6th and 7th innings for the Sundevils UCLA trailed 3-1. UCLA Senior Josh Roenicke extended his hit streak to 12 games with a single in the 7th and would later score on a base hit by Freshman Brandon Crawford to cut the lead to 3-2. That however, would be the last of the scoring in the game as the Bruins failed to capitalize on two chances to tie the game with runner in scoring position in the 8th and 9th innings.
Following a disappointing loss Friday night, UCLA showed up ready to play Saturday afternoon and nobody was more ready than Junior starting pitcher David Huff. The southpaw threw his 2nd consecutive complete game and allowed a measly 1 run on 2 hits while striking out 6. Huff retired the 22 of the final 23 batters he faced. The Bruins gave him help at the plate early as they scored 2 runs in the first inning to take a lead they would not relinquish. Junior Tim Stewart and Senior Sean Smith recorded the RBI's for UCLA in that first inning. The game was a pitcher duel again Saturday as ASU starter Jeff Urlaub retired 15 of 18 Bruins from the 1st inning through the 7th. The Bruins however would extend their lead with 3 runs in the 8th as pinch hitter Hector Ambriz, Freshman Jermaine Curtis and Senior Chris Jensen all had RBI's. Those 3 runs would give UCLA a 5-1 lead that would hold through the 9th as Huff put the finishing touches on his materpiece. This win would even the series at 1 and set the stage for the rubber match Sunday.
The players from both squads knew the importance of the game Sunday and apparently, so did the fans. Offcially, 979 fans showed up to the game and fans late to get to Jackie Robinson Stadium pushed that total to over 1,000. Tjose fans would not be disappointed as the Bruins and Sundevils played a 10 inning, 5+ hour marathon of a game that was a fitting end to a series so tightly contested.Arizona State jumped out to an earl 4-0 lead after Colin Curtis hit a two-run home run to drive in leadoff hitter Ryan Sontag after he walked to give the Sun Devils a quick 2-0 lead. A RBI single by Ike Davis and a sacrifice fly by Frank Mesa put ASU up by four runs, but the Bruins quickly cut into the lead with 2 runs of their own in the bottom of the first to make it a 4-2 ballgame. UCLA starter Junior Tyson Brummet would settle down after the shaky first inning to sit down 7 Sundevils in order on 4 strikeouts through the 3rd inning. UCLA would strike again in the 3rd inning. Freshman Brandon Crawford lead off the inning with a base hit to left center, followed by a single by Curtis. A Jensen walk would load the bases with nobody out as Designated Hitter Hector Ambriz stepped to the plate. Ambriz laced a single up the middle to score Crawford and Curtis to tie the game at 4-4. Later in the inning, Senior Brett McMillan singled to score Jensen and give UCLA a 5-4 lead. UCLA also got a run in the 4th, courtesy of a Ambriz walk with the bases loaded. The Bruins however, would strand 3 runners in that inning. ASU took the lead back in the 7th with 3 runs to give themselves a 7-6 lead, but UCLA would even it up at 7 with an RBI by Roenicke. A 1 out homerun in the top of the ninth by Ike Davis would put the Bruins down a run going into their final at bat, but Babineau would record an RBI to tie the game for the Bruins and send it into extra frames. The 10th inning did not go as planned for the Bruins though, as ASU put up 2 runs in the top half of the inning to leave Bruin fans at the Jack silent. The Bruin bats though, would awaken their fans after Jensen lead off the inning with a double. A walk by Freshman Blair Dunlap and a bunt single by Smth would load the bases with nobody out as UCLA Coach John Savage sent up freshman Cody Decker to pinch hit. Decker delivered with a double to score Jensen and Dunlap. After an intentional walk to Freshman Tim Murphy and fly out by Roenicke Ryan Babineau again played the role of hero as he drove home Smith to give the Bruins a deserved win and send their fans home happy.
UCLA will host UCSB on Tuesday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The game is at 6 P.M. and all fans are encouraged to come out and support a team leading UCLA baseball back to national prominence. The Bruins will then travel to Cal for a Friday, Saturday, Sunday series versus the Golden Bears.
Updated Pac-10 Standings
1- Oregon State (9-3)
2- U$C (9-6)
3- UCLA (7-5)
5- Washington (6-6)
6- Arizona (5-7)
Washington State (5-7)
8- California (6-9)
9- Stanford (3-9)