Blair Dunlap extended his hit streak to 10 games on Saturday (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Coming into the season, the big question was whether or not UCLA would be able to score enough runs. Early on in the season, the answer was a resounding "yes," but after struggling to score for all of the Pac-10 season, the Bruins managed just one run versus Arizona St. for the second consecutive game, a 6-1 loss to the Sun Devils. The loss handed the Devils the series and stretched their lead over the Bruins in the Pac-10 to 4.5 games, meaning that even with a win tomorrow, UCLA will need either an unbelievably hot finish or some unexpected losses by ASU if they are to win the conference title.
With the crowd of 1,725 still finding their seats, Arizona St.was at work. They got to Trevor Bauer early and even once Bauer settled down, the Bruins had to play from behind. Bauer allowed four runs in the first inning, accounting for the bulk of the damage that the Devils did to him. By the end of the day, Bauer had allowed six innings (four earned) in seven innings of work. Bauer struck out nine, but also walked five and allowed eight hits. Mitchell Beacom relieved Bauer and allowed just one hit in two scoreless innings.
As has become the theme of late, the Bruins stranded runner after runner on Saturday. By the end of nine innings, the Bruins had left 12 on base, including eight in scoring position. Tyler Rahmatulla scored a run and picked up a pair of hits for the Bruins for his team-leading 17th multi-hit game of the year. Trevor Brown also chipped in with two hits of his own and Cody Keefer drove in the Bruins' only run. Blair Dunlap singled in the game to extend his hit streak to 10 games.
Before Bauer retired a single batter in the first inning, Arizona St. was already up 3-0. A bloop single started off the game and consecutive walks loaded the bases. A hard, line drive single to left brought two runs around to score and that was followed by another single that scored another. Trailing 3-0, the Bruins finally got their first out of the inning, but a passed ball followed to move the runners up 90 feet. Another single brought home yet another run and it took a pick off at first and strike out to finally get out of the inning.
Things got worse for the Bruins in the second as they had to battle shaky umpiring in addition to a tough Sun Devils teams. With runners at first and second and two out, the runners took off on a double steal. The pitch was in the dirt for a wild pitch and the runner who began at second, tried to come all the way around to score. The catcher, Brown, gathered the ball off of the backstop and through to Bauer, who was covering the plate. Bauer caught the ball in plenty of time and applied the tag, but the umpire inexplicably ruled the runner safe to the chagrin of the home crowd.
The Bruins answered in the third inning with a run of their own, but it was the opportunity left that stood out. After the lead off man reached base, a double play put two outs on the board. Singles by Rahmatulla and double then a walk by Cody Regis loaded the bases though. A perfect bunt single by Keefer up the third base line brought home a run to make it a 5-1 ballgame with the bases still loaded. A ground ball to second ended the UCLA threat and the Bruins had to settle for just one run.
An error by Regis, the Bruins' second of the game, came back to hurt the team. The error extended the inning and a two-out run came across to stretch the ASU lead to 6-1.
The sixth inning brought along the Bruins' second double play of the game and another man left on base. Bauer had settled down, but the Bruins couldn't find their bats.
In the ninth inning, UCLA got a pair of singles to lead off the inning and give the Bruin faithful hope. A strike out and the Bruins' third double play of the game quickly ended any hope though and the men in blue and gold dropped the series.
On Sunday, UCLA will look to salvage the weekend with Rob Rasmussen (6-1, 2.85 ERA) leading the way. He will be opposed by Arizona St.'s Jake Borup (8-1, 3.58 ERA) in the contest at Jackie Robinson Stadium that gets underway at 1 pm PDT.