UCLA was dominated for much of the game by #5 Cal St. Fullerton's starting pitcher Daniel Renken and while they did try to mount a ninth inning comeback, it was too little, too late as the Titans continued their dominance of the Bruins. Renken did not surrender a hit until there was two-out in the seventh and went 8.2 innings, while allowing just six hits and two runs for the Titans to pick up the win. Gerrit Cole ran into some trouble early on versus the patient Titans offense and was chased after 5.2 innings, having allowed six hits and six runs, although only four were earned.
Blair Dunlap was the only truly dangerous Bruin batter on the night, going 2-3 with a pair of triples, a pair of runs and a RBI. Dunlap was also the first Bruin to reach base when he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. Fullerton's Nick Ramirez had a solo home run on the evening and came in to pick up the save.
Cal St. Fullerton got on the board in the first inning with some patience at the plate and clutch two-out hitting. After drawing a leadoff walk. Christian Colon was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Then with two down, Fullerton got a single to go ahead 1-0, then a two run homer to take a 3-0 lead.
Poor defense bit the Bruins in the second inning and the Titans took advantage. After another leadoff walk and sacirifce bunt, the Titans' baserunner stole third and drew a two-out walk. With the runners on the corners, Cole had a runner picked off, but Casey Haerther dropped the ball and what should have ended the inning put runners on second and third. A seeing eye single through the left field plated both base runners and Fullerton was ahead, 5-0.
The Titans expanded upon that lead with a leadoff home run by Ramirez in the sixth inning to put themselves in front by a score of 6-0.
With two away in the seventh, the Bruins finally got their first hit off of Renken when Cody Decker was able to drop a very soft line drive into left center.
Dunlap led off the eighth inning with a triple, marking the first time a UCLA player made it past first base. With one out, Niko Gallego singled to score Dunlap and cut the Fullerton lead to 6-1. The Bruins were able to put runners on first and second later in the inning, but nothing came of that threat
UCLA tried their best to make a ninth inning comeback and they were able to bring the tying run to the plate, but it was all for not. With Decker on first following a 10 pitch walk and two out, Dunlap laced his second triple of the ballgame to score Decker. Chris Gionvinazzo followed that up with a single to score Dunlap and following a pitching change, Gallego was able to push a bunt past the pitcher, towards second base for a single to bring the tying run to the plate. Head coach John Savage sent Gabe Cohen to the plate as a pinch hitter in hopes of capitalizing on the junior's power, but Ramirez got Cohen looking at a curveball for strike three to end the game.
The UCLA bullpen was outstanding yet again as Rob Rasmussen and Jason Novak combined to throw 2.1 hitless, scoreless inning for the Bruins in the loss.
The Bruins and Titans will play the second game of this weekend's three game series on Saturday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The game will feature a pair of sensational freshmen in UCLA's Trevor Bauer and Fullerton's Noe Ramiriez. Bauer is 8-3 with a 2.68 ERA on the campaign, while Ramirez will take a 6-1 record and 2.91 ERA with him to the hill. First pitch is at 6 pm PDT and 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. You can also stay up to date on all things UCLA baseball from game updates to news to analysis to the latest on the Bruins' regional chances on my UCLA baseball twitter.