It was a day for the seniors in the final home game for four Bruin seniors. With that in mind, the Bruins came out blazing and three UCLA seniors each notched three hits as the Bruins combined for 19 in the game to outscore #5 Cal St. Fullerton 13-10 in a thrilling series finale. Matt Grace earned the win for UCLA in two innings of three run relief, while Tyler Pill absorbed the loss for Fullerton after surrendering seven runs in 1.2 innings. Gavin Brooks picked up his ninth save of the year.
With one out in the first, UCLA began their first of many strings of hits on the afternoon and it was began with a pair of seniors. Senior Gino Aielli got it going with a double to left and that was followed by a double by another senior, Cody Decker. With one already across, Casey Haerther squared up a 2-2 pitch and smacked it out to center field to put the Bruins up 3-0 after one.
With two men on and one out, Blair Dunlap doubled to right field, scoring one. Then with runners on second and third, Aielli executed a suicide squeeze to score a run and stretch UCLA's lead to 5-0. That brought Decker to the plate, who got all of a 1-1 pitch and hit it out for his 19th home run of the season to put UCLA up 7-0 and end Pill's outing.
Fullerton got back in the ballgame with a four run third. A sacrifice fly scored the Titans' first run, then with two-out, they got a single from Josh Fellhauer that scored one and an error allowed a second run to score. Jared Clark followed that up with a single of his own, scoring a run and cutting the Bruins' lead to 7-4.
With Justin Uribe on third in the bottom half of the inning, Niko Gallego slapped a single to right to score Uribe and move the Bruins' lead to 8-4.
Nick Ramirez hit his second home run of the series to lead off the Titans' half of the fourth, but the Bruins' offense kept hitting in their half. After Dunlap reached on an error and Aielli singled, Decker singled to score Dunlap. With runners at first and second, Haerther hit a ground ball to short that the Titans tried to turn two on, but the throw from second to first ended up against the dugout and Aielli came around to score from second. With two out, Tyler Rahmatulla singled to score Haerther, then Dustin Quist doubled to plate Rahmatulla and extend the Bruins' advantage to 12-5
Ramirez bit the Bruins again in the fifth with a RBI single and had his chance again in the sixth to do some more damage. After Ramirez cut the Bruins' lead to 12-6 in the fifth, the Titans scored three more in the sixth and brought Ramirez to the plate with runners on first and second with two-out. With Ramirez representing the tying run, Brendan Lafferty entered the game for UCLA and got Ramirez to ground out to second, ending the threat.
In the seventh inning, Fullerton brought the tying run to the plate again, this time in the name of Gary Brown, but Lafferty once again induced a ground ball to second base.
The Bruins got a key insurance run in the bottom half of the seventh, but it was almost two. With one out and men at first and second, Aielli singled to left, but Brown made a fantastic throw to get the speedy Dunlap at the plate on a very close play. Haerther made sure UCLA got at least one though by hitting a single to right to score a run and give the Bruins a 13-9 edge.
Brooks entered the game in the ninth inning, looking to close out the Titans, but Fullerton was not going to make it easy. After getting a pop up to start the inning, Fullerton got a double and single to put runners on first and third. Brooks was able to get Brown waving at a high fastball for the inning's second out. The heart of the Fullerton lineup was up though and the third hitting in the lineup, Fellhauer singled to left, scoring a run. That brought the man with 68 RBI and 10 homers to the plate as the tying run, Jared Clark. After running the count full, Brooks threw a fastball on the inner half that Clark could do nothing more than swing through for the game's final out.
UCLA's 13-10 win in their final home game fo the year upped their record back to .500 at 26-26. Four Bruins had three hits on the afternoon and two more had a pair of hits. Decker was 3-4 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored in the game, while Haerther was 2-5 with a homer, three RBI and a pair of runs scored. Dunlap was 3-5 with a pair of runs, a RBI and a stolen bag and Aiellie scored three times, while adding three hits.
The Bruins will continue their attempt at a late regional run on Tuesday when they visit the nation's top-ranked team, UC Irvine. First pitch is at 6 pm PDT and the Bruins will be looking to sweep the series versus the Anteaters after taking the first game between the two, 8-3, earlier this year at Jackie Robinson Stadium. If you want to track the game, you 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.