UCLA made a valiant comeback, capped by a game-tying grand slam by Cody Decker, but eventually dropped the game and the series to #5 Cal St. Fullerton in 10 innings at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Titans scored their first five runs in the first five innings, four off of home runs, but UCLA starting pitcher rebounded to throw four scoreless innings to cap off his outing.
The Bruins had their chances to go ahead late in the ballgame, but some poor hitting as well as outstanding pitching, specifically by Nick Ramirez, kept UCLA off the board. Ramirez earned the win for Fullerton to improve to 3-1, while Gavin Brooks picked up the loss for the Bruins. Bauer went nine innings for the third consecutive week, but did not factor in the decision.
In front of the largest home crowd of the season, 1,125, at least half of which were Fullerton fans, UCLA fell behind early. Dustin Garneau squared up a fastball from Bauer and planted it over the left field fence to put the Titans up 2-0.
UCLA got a single in both the first and second innings, but both base runners were thrown out trying to swipe second base so after two innings, Fullerton's starter Noe Ramirez had faced the minimum six batters.
Josh Fellhauer extended the Titans' lead to 3-0 in the third inning with a home run to lead off the inning. The Titans tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning on a RBI groundout by Fellhauer, then a solo home run to left by Jared Clark.
With Ramirez cruising, it looked like the Titans were going to cruise over the Bruins. Ramirez had outstanding movement on all of his pitches and the Bruins had trouble all evening squaring the ball up, but they finally got to him in the seventh with a two-out rally.
Niko Gallego singled with two out and Tyler Rahmatulla drew a walk to put runners on first and second with two down. After Blair Dunlap was hit by a pitch, Gino Aielli drove a single to left field to score a run. With the Fullerton lead down to 5-1, Decker smacked a 1-0 pitch out to deep center field for a grand slam that brought the home fans to their feet and tied the game at five apiece.
The Bruins had their chance to go ahead in the eighth inning, but squandered their opportunity. Justin Uribe hit a leadoff double to right field to lead off the inning and pinch hitter Marc Navarro hit a ground ball to the right side, allowing pinch runner Eddie Murray to take third. That spurred Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano to bring in his top reliever Nick Ramirez to face Chris Gionvinazzo with the infield in. Giovinazzo couldn't get the job done though and popped up to second base. Gallego followed that up with a strike out on a fantastic curveball to end the inning and the Bruins' last threat.
Neither team threatened again until the Titans' tallied in the tenth. With Brooks in to replace Bauer, Fullerton's leadoff hitter Chrtistian Colon doubled to deep left center to start the inning. Brooks was able to keep the next batter from getting the sacrifice bunt down though and got the batter swingining later in the at-bat for strike three. With one out and Fellhauer at the plate, Colon took off for third base and it appeared that the Bruins had him out, but the throw from Aielli was high and wide, allowing Colon to get in safely. On a 1-1 pitch, Fellhauer lifted a fly ball to left field that Dustin Quist caught and fired to the plate. The ball appeared to beat Colon, but when Aielli went to mak the tag, he dropped the ball and Fullerton took a 6-5 lead.
The Bruins went down in order to cap off the game in the tenth and fell back under .500 to 25-26. Decker's grand slam was his only hit of the game in five at-bats, but it was the most important one for the Bruins. While Aielli will certainly get some heat for a pair of tenth inning defensive miscues, he did lead the Bruins with three hits on the evening and added a run and RBI. Niko Gallego was the only other Bruin with multiple hits on the ballgame and he was also the only Bruin with multiple runs, scoring twice.
The Bruins and Titans will cap off their three-game series on Sunday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The game will pit UCLA's Charles Brewer (3-5, 3.96 ERA) against Fullerton's Tyler Pill (8-2, 3.61 ERA). 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.