Dean Espy's bases clearing double in the tenth helped the Bruins pick up a key 6-3 win (Photo Credit: Official Site)
In the series opener on Friday night between UCLA and Arizona, the Bruins were down to their final out. That final out appeared to be well on its way, but the Wildcats handed the Bruins an opportunity and the visitors took advantage. With two outs in the ninth inning and trailing by a run, an error allowed the Bruins to tie the game and in the tenth inning with two outs, UCLA exploded for four runs to defeat Arizona, 6-4, in Tucson, AZ. With the win, the Bruins improve to 28-6 overall, 6-4 in the Pac-10 and drew first blood in a massive three-game conference series.
After a week of sub-par pitching from the UCLA staff, Gerrit Cole, who has struggled for nearly a month, stepped it up and threw a gem. The right-hander limited the Pac-10's best hitting team to just two runs while striking out ten in eight innings of work. Cole did not earn the win, but he kept the Bruins in the game and allowed Dan Klein to pick up the win thanks to two strong innings. Klein tossed a perfect ninth inning and despite allowed a run in the tenth, his second run allowed this season, he still picked up the win to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Dean Espy had the bit hit, a bases clearing double to drive in three on his only hit of the evening. Cody Regis scored a pair of runs for the visiting Bruins to lead the club and the pinch-runner,, came around the score the tying run in the ninth. Blair Dunlap and Beau Amaral each picked up a pair of hits to lead UCLA's eight hit attack.
Neither team was able to get a run in the early going, but it was Arizona who came closest. Consecutive singles with one away gave the Wildcats a chance and a fielder's choice at second moved the runner to third, but Cole got a grounder to second to end the inning.
A two-out rally netted the Bruins their first run of the game in the fourth. Regis drew a two-out walk and a single by Dunlap put runners on the corners. Jeff Gelalich capitalized with a single to right field to plate Regis and give the Bruins a 1-0 edge.
The 1-0 UCLA led lasted until the seventh when the Wildcats grabbed the lead. A lead-off single got things going, but a failed sacrifice bunt got the Bruins an out. After a single gave the Wildcats two men on, a single back up the box tied the game at one apiece and moved the go-ahead run to third. A sacrifice fly to deep center scored a run for a 2-1 Arizona lead and while the Bruins did get the runner trying to tag and take second, the damage had been done.
The eighth inning amounted to little for UCLA, but in the ninth, they finally evened things up. A one-out single by Dunlap put the tying run on base in the form of Williams, the pinch-runner. A ground out to third moved Williams to second and put the tying run in scoring position. Espy hit a decently hard chopper to third for what should have been the final out, but the Arizona third baseman let the ball get by him for an error and Williams came around to tie the game, 2-2.
After Klein tossed a perfect ninth, UCLA took advantage of another error at third. A bobbled grounder by the same Arizona third baseman allow Chris Giovinazzo to lead off the inning by reaching base. A sacrifice bunt moved Giovinazzo to second and an intentional walk put another man on. Regis was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with just one out. Pinch-hitter Marc Navarro stepped to the plate needing just a deep fly ball to score a run, but he struck out and it looked as if the Bruin rally may lead to nothing, especially when Brett Krill fell behind 1-2. Krill worked his way back, though. fouling off three pitches to earn a walk and force the go-ahead run in. Espy followed by getting into a full count of his own, but the Bruins; leading RBI man roped a liner down the third base line to bring home all three runners.
With a 6-2 lead, Klein did not have to stress. A lead-off single got the Wildcats going and the Bruins let the runner to second on fielders indifference. A chopper to shortstop took a bad hop and got by Niko Gallego for a single to score the run, but Klein shut things down from there on to close things out for the win.
The Bruins and Wildcats will continue their three-game set tomorrow at 6 pm PDT from Jerry Kindall Field. Trevor Bauer (5-2, 2.65 ERA) will start for UCLA and Kyle Simon (6-2, 3.39 ERA) will toe the rubber for Arizona.