Saturday's contest between UCLA and Cal certainly wasn't the prettiest of contests. Each team committed three errors that led to six combined unearned runs in a sloppy contest at Cal's Evans Diamond. In the end, the Bruins managed to break the game open late versus some increasingly wild starting pitching then a Golden Bears bullpen that struggled. Meanwhile, a day after hitting into four double plays, the Bruins turned two of their own to quickly end any possible Cal rally.
The win marked UCLA's eighth straight in the Pac-10 and their 10th overall in their last 11 games. It leaves their record at 40-11 and a 15-8 Pac-10 mark with just four conference games remaining. The win also moves their record away from Jackie Robinson Stadium to 18-3 and means that UCLA has won every road series on their 2010 schedule.
Once again, the depth of the UCLA lineup showed itself again. In the middle of the order, it was Brett Krill and Cody Regis who got the job done. Krill went 2-4 with three RBI and three runs scored to go along with a walk while Regis went 1-3 with three runs scored and a walk. Jeff Gelalich and Niko Gallego got things done at the bottom with Gallego's 1-3, two RBI, one run effort and Gelalich's 1-2, one run performance. Just as he did yesterday, Dean Espy contributed off the bench, but this time it was with a two-RBI pinch-hit triple.
Despite having to deal with some erratic fielding behind him, Trevor Bauer did enough to pick up the win and improve to 9-3 on the year. The sophomore allowed four runs on the afternoon, only two of which were earned. Bauer struck out seven in his seven inning start before handing the ball to Matt Grace, who threw two perfect innings of relief.
The error-fest started in the second inning when the Bruins got bit by some bad defense. A walk and sacrifice bunt put a runner in scoring position, then a single scored the game's first run. It looked as if the Bruins might get out of the inning down just a run, but a two-out error allowed the inning's second run to score for a 2-0 Cal edge.
As they always do, the errors hurt UCLA, but it was their inability to get things going offensively that hurt the Bruins in the early going. It wasn't until the fifth inning that the visitors got their first base knock, but they made them count.
A lead off single by Krill marked the first hit of the game for UCLA and Gelalich followed with a single of his own. Gallego squared around and put down the sacrifice bunt, but the Cal pitcher threw the ball away. Gallego reached second and Gelalich went down to third, while Krill scored the Bruins' first run of the game. A ground out to second by Steve Rodriguez plated Gallego, then Beau Amaral also hit one to second for a ground out, scoring Gelalich for a 3-2 UCLA lead.
UCLA's lead lasted all the way until the bottom half of the inning. A lead off single an one out error put runners at the corners. After the runner at first stole second, a clean single up the middle plated both base runners and once again, Cal had the lead,.
Just like Cal responded a half inning after UCLA took the lead, the Bruins responded a half inning after the Golden Bears went ahead. In the top of the sixth, a single by Regis and walk by Krill put two on. Gelalich walked to loaded the bases with two out and Gallego came through with a double to right center that plated Regis and Krill for a 5-4 UCLA lead. Gelalich also tried to scored on the play, but the freshman was thrown out at the plate trying to come around from first.
What was a tenuous 5-4 lead because a comfortable advantage for the Bruins in the eighth. Tyler Rahmatulla led off the frame with a double and a sacrifice bunt moved him to third. A walk by Regis put runners on the corners and then UCLA benefited from another error. A booted ball at third scored Rahmatulla and put runners back on the corners. Espy, who pinch hit with a RBI single on Friday, came through off the bench again when he ripped a pinch-hit triple that scored two. With a 8-4 lead, the Golden Bears committed yet another error, this one allowing Espy to score for a five-run edge.
A lead off walk, single and another walk got the Bruin offense going again in the ninth. If the Bears still thought they had a shot, that hope was extinguished one batter later when Krill laced a double to left center, clearing the bases stretching the UCLA lead to 12-4.
With the Bruins up big, the pressure was off of Grace after Bauer handed him the ball in the eighth. The left-hander breezed through the final two innings and wrapped up the series win for UCLA with a chance at the sweep in tomorrow's series finale.
That chance at a sweep will come at 1 pm PDT tomorrow when the Bruins and Bears take to Evans Diamond one final time. Rob Rasmussen (7-2, 3.15 ERA) will get the start for UCLA opposite Cal's Justin Jones (9-4, 3.76 ERA).