Two days ago, UCLA had lost three of four and six of 11 since their 22 game win streak to start the year. Things looked bleak and with a trip to Tucson to play a top 20 team in Arizona, who had won six straight, it looked as if things could easily get worse. Well, the Bruins are having none of it and after taking down the Wildcats, 6-2, on Saturday night, the men in blue and gold have secured the series win with a chance at a sweep on Sunday. The Bruins are now 29-6 on the year and their 7-4 mark in Pac-10 play is good for third place.
Three weeks ago, Trevor Bauer had a rough start against Stanford and he bounced back with 7.1 shutout innings at Oregon St. Last weekend, Bauer struggled again, that time against Oregon. History suggested he would bounce back strong Saturday night against Arizona and history was correct. The right-hander threw a complete game and allowed just two runs to go long with 13 strikeouts as improved to 6-2 on the campaign.
While Bauer was taking care of business on the mound, Tyler Rahmatulla was getting it done at the plate. The sophomore went 3-3 with a home run and he drove in three runs on the evening to lead a ten hit Bruin attack. Cody Keefer chipped in with a 3-5 effort and run scored and Beau Amaral set the pace at the top of the lineup by picking up three hits and scoring a run. Niko Gallego drove in a run and stole three bases to provide the Bruins with a threat on the bases.
The game very nearly started in Arizona's favor when the Wildcats threatened in the first. The leadoff man was hit by a pitch and that was followed by a single. A wild pitch moved the runners ahead 90 feet and the Bruins still had nobody out. Then, Bauer got tough and struck out the next three batters he faced to get out of the early jam.
In the next half inning, the Bruins got on the board. Keefer led off the inning with a single and Gallego followed with a hard liner to center. The Arizona center fielder gave chase, but he couldn't get to it and the ball rolled all the way to the wall, allowing Keefer to score easily. Gallego swiped the first of his three bags when he took third and it proved to be a valuable one when Steve Rodriguez grounded out to first to bring Gallego home.
It took only two pitches for UCLA to extend their lead in the third inning. Rahmatulla led off the inning and smacked the second pitch he saw way out to left field. The Arizona left field took just two steps back before standing and watch the ball sail well over the fence for a 3-0 UCLA advantage.
Taking a page out of Friday night's book, the Bruins mounted a two-out rally in the fourth to add to their lead. After the first two batters were retired, Amaral was hit by a pitch and Blair Dunlap singled to set the stage for Rahmatulla. Rahmatulla laced a double to the wall in left and scored both baserunners, stretching the Bruin lead to 5-0.
Consecutive two-out extra base hits got Arizona their first run in the fifth inning, but the Bruins got that one back in the sixth in as similar fashion to Friday night. The Wildcats' third baseman handed the Bruins their win on Friday with a ninth inning error that let UCLA tie the game and another in the tenth that helped them win it. With two out and the bases loaded in the sixth on Saturday, the same fielder made an error to bring home a UCLA run and give them their five-run lead back.
With the lead 6-1, it was all Bauer. He did allow one more run in the ninth, but he got punch outs in the seventh, eighth and then two more in the ninth to cap his outstanding start and first complete game of the season.
The UCLA series win is already in the bag, but on Sunday at noon PDT, they go for the series sweep. Rob Rasmussen (6-0, 2.52 ERA), who has won his last six starts, will start for UCLA and Daniel Workman (2-0, 5.96 ERA) will go for the Wildcats.