In his past two starts, freshman Gerrit Cole had thrown six great innings, only to run into seventh inning trouble and see a UCLA lead turn into a UCLA deficit. Well, that wasn't the case tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium as the right-hander threw eight innings, did not allow an earned run, allowed only one hit and struck out 13 in the Bruins' 4-2 win over Washington.
Cole's tremendous effort was certainly needed though as the rest of the Bruins didn't match Cole's performance. The Bruins outhit the Huskies 10-2 on the evening, which should have allowed them to cruise, but an error by UCLA and poor hitting with runners in scoring position made this a close contest.
The Bruins got out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to some clutch hitting with runners in scoring position that would elude them most of the night. Cody Decker led off the second inning with a double and after being advanced to third, Gabe Cohen singled to right field with two out to score Decker.
Cole's fantastic start was almost derailed just as it got going. In the third inning, Cole was struck on the foot by a hard ground ball that sent him to the turf in a heap. The ball bounced into shallow right field for a double, Washington's only hit against Cole all night, but the concern was for Cole, not for the runner. After a short time on the ground though in which he was being examined by the UCLA trainer, Cole popped up, threw two warmup pitches in the mid-90's and was ready to continue on.
The ball that struck Cole and turned into a double came with two out and a man on first, putting runners on second and third. That's when a mental and physical error, all in one play, bit the Bruins to put them behind. A ground ball was hit to third baseman Chris Amezquita who had plenty of time to make the throw to first and end the inning. Amezquita did not know how many outs there were though and he ran at the runner on second base before realizing there were two outs and making a rushed, off balance throw to first that ended up in the visitors bullpen. Two runs, both unearned, scored on the error by Amezquita and the 1-0 UCLA lead turned into a 2-1 Washington lead.
The Bruins left the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, but were able to even up the game in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Decker hit a ground ball to shortstop. The UW shortstop threw to second for one out, but the throw to first to get the double play was just a bit too late to get the hustling Decker, allowing the baserunner from third to even the game, 2-2.
UCLA was able to take the lead only one inning later with a pair of two-out RBI singles. With Amezquita on third with two men out, Steve Rodriguez grounded through the right sight to score Amezquita and put UCLA ahead, 3-2. Following a single by Eddie Murray to put runners on the corners, head coach John Savage sent the man with the broken toe, Casey Haerther, to the plate as a pinch hitter. Haerther hit the first pitch he saw into left field for a single to score Rodriguez and give the Bruins a 4-2 lead.
That was all the Bruin pitchers needed. After Cole cruised through his eight innings, Gavin Brooks came in to finish off the ball game. Brooks got into trouble when he put runners on first and second with one out, but he picked the runner off second and got a ground out to end the game.
Cole's sensational outing earned him the win to even up his record at 3-3. Gavin Brooks picked up his fourth save of the season in relief and the Bruins improved to 15-19 on the year and 7-6 in Pac 10 play. Amezquita was the only Bruin with multiple hits on the evening as he picked up a pair, but nine of the 12 Bruins will plate appearances tonight did get a base knock.
The Bruins and Huskies will do battle again tomorrow at 2 pm PDT, one again at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Trevor Bauer will get the nod for the Bruins and Jason Erickson will take to the hill for the Huskies. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for children and free for Wooden Club card holders. If you can't make it out to the games, you can listen to it or follow it on GameTracker via the official site.