Erik Goeddel's three strong innings weren't enough for the Bruins on Sunday (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Arizona's poor fielding on Friday night handed the Bruins a win in the series opener and on Sunday, UCLA returned the favor. The Bruins committed three errors to account for three unearned runs in a 6-4 loss to Arizona at Jerry Kindall Field in Tucson, AZ. Despite the loss, the Bruins still came away with a series win on the road against a top 20 team, but they will certainly look at Sunday as a lost opportunity thanks to their sub-par job with the gloves. UCLA's 29-7 record still has them in good position for a national seed and that hold on a national seed can be strengthened next weekend when they host Arizona St. in what some believe is the biggest series of the season anywhere in the country.
Rob Rasmussen entered Sunday's start having earned wins in his last six starts, but he was not the same pitcher that he had been in past weeks. The junior lasted just 3.2 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits to pick up his first loss of the season and drop to 6-1 on the campaign. Erik Goeddel was strong in three innings of relief, surrendering just two unearned runs on one hit and striking out three to keep the Bruins in it before Matt Grace's perfect four outs.
Through the game's first seven innings, UCLA mustered just five hits. Two hits in each of the final two innings netted the Bruins three more runs and gave them a chance, but their offense struggled for most of the afternoon. Dean Espy was the only Bruin to pick up multiple hits in the game, going 2-5 with a run and RBI to pace the offense. The top two in the UCLA lineup each picked up a hit and a run scored and Jeff Gelalich reached base in both of his at-bats by singling and walking, while also driving a run in.
It took Arizona all of one batter to start their first rally of the game, getting a double to lead off the first inning. A ground out moved the runner to third base and a simple fly ball to center was all it took to score the game's first run.
A half inning later, the Bruins tied things up with a double of their own. Espy one-hopped the fence in right center with one out to get things going and Gelalich smacked one into left field for a single to easily score Espy.
The fourth inning gave Arizona the edge that they would never give back and also knocked Rasmussen from the game. As is often the case, it came after the Bruins saw a chance of their own slip away. With the bases loaded and just one out, a double play put an end to the Bruins' chances and sent the game to the bottom half of the inning where the Wildcats did their damage.
A two-out triple to right started things for Arizona and when a double followed, the Wildcats had a run and a 2-1 lead. A grounder sneaked its way through up the middle to plate another run and Arizona led 3-1. A slow roller to third looked like it might end the inning, but Cody Regis threw the ball into the right field corner, allowing the base runner to score from first and ending Rasmussen's day. Goeddel relieved him and after three straight balls, threw three straight strikes to strand the Wildcat base runner at third.
More poor fielding stretched the 4-1 UCLA lead to a 6-1 advantage in the sixth. An error by Espy at first started things and a walk put two men on with just one out. Another UCLA error, this one by Niko Gallego, scored another run for Arizona and when the Wildcats doubled, they scored another to give them a five-run lead.
In the seventh inning, the Bruins gave the Wildcats a run. A single by Gallego and walks by Beau Amaral and Blair Dunlap loaded the bases with one out. After Tyler Rahmatulla lined out to second, pinch hitter Trevor Brown was hit by a pitch to force a run in. A wild pitch scored another to make it a 6-3 ballgame, but Espy struck out to end the frame.
Singles by Chris Giovinazzo and Steve Rodriguez in the eighth put runners on the corners with two outs and it looked as if Amaral might cash one of those in, but his liner to center hung up just long enough for the Arizona center fielder to get under for the inning's final out.
Dunlap and Rahmatulla each singled to begin what looked to be a big Bruin rally in the ninth, but consecutive ground outs and a pop up could plate just one and the Bruins went home 6-4 losers,
Before the Bruins can take on the Sun Devils next weekend, they must play a struggling and desperate UC Irvine team that will be looking at Tuesday's game as a chance to make a statement. First pitch is at 6 pm PDT at Jackie Robinson Stadium and Garett Claypool will start for the Bruins.