Gerrit Cole had command of the ballgame from the beginning and struck out 11 to pick up the win (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Never in UCLA history has a baseball team won 42 regular season games. That is, not until tonight when the Bruins took an early lead and never gave it back in a comfortable 6-1 win over Washington St. Once, in 1967, the Bruins won 43 games, but two of those do not count on the record because they were over non-college teams so the 2010 team will go into the UCLA history books as the best regular season team the school has ever had. In addition to picking up their 42nd win of the year, UCLA also won their 10th consecutive game in the Pac-10, the program's longest conference win streak since 1924. The win over Wazzu also clinched second-place in the Pac-10 for the Bruins and has them in position to share the conference title if they win their final two games of the season and Arizona St. falls to Stanford tomorrow.
From pitch number one on the night, Gerrit Cole was dominating. He sat down batter after batter and finished off the contest with 11 punch outs in 6.2 innings of work. The sophomore allowed just one run on four hits for the Bruins and after the bullpen finished things up, Cole saw his record on the season improve to 9-2. Matt Drummond finished out the seventh inning for the Bruins by retiring the only batter he faced before Erik Goeddel and Dan Klein each struck out two in a scoreless inning to put a wrap on things.
Facing Washington St.'s ace made things difficult on the Bruins, but they did enough to pick up the win. While they struck out five times, they countered that by drawing four walks. Tyler Rahmatulla's 2-3, home run, two RBI, two run effort led the way for UCLA as the only Bruin to put up multiple hits, RBI or runs. Dean Espy singled and scored as a pinch-hitter and Steve Rodriguez went 1-2 with a run and RBI at the bottom of the UCLA lineup.
After two quiet innings, UCLA got the first runs of the game with a high fly ball in the second. An infield single by Rodriguez started the inning and with two outs, Rahmatulla lifted one deep to center. What looked like a deep fly out kept carrying and carrying and carrying until it found its way to the other side of the fence for the sophomore's sixth home run of the season.
Singles by Jeff Gelalich and Niko Gallego with one out put runners at the corners in the fourth inning. After twice failing to get the safety squeeze bunt down, it looked as if the inning might pass with a missed opportunity for UCLA, but Rodriguez was able to lift a pitch to center field for a sacrifice fly. Gelalich came in from third to score and give the Bruins a 3-0 edge.
Cole battled a bout of wildness the next half inning and it bit him. A walk with one out and wild pitch put a runner in scoring position for the Cougars so a ground ball that found a hole on the right side of the infield was enough to score a Wazzu run.
In the bottom half of the fifth, UCLA responded to get the Washington St. run back with some help from the Cougs. Blair Dunlap hit a grounder to second base that the fielder inexplicably flipped well wide of the bag, allowing Dunlap to reach. After a single by Rahmatulla moved Dunlap to third, Justin Uribe hit a fly ball to left field that allowed Dunlap to tag and score for a 4-1 UCLA lead.
The 4-1 scoreline lasted all the way until the eighth when the Bruins added a pair of insurance runs. A walk by Rahmatulla and single by Espy got the home team going, then Cody Regis put down a sacrifice bunt that the Cougs threw away. Rahmatulla came all the way around from second to score on the error, while Espy went from first to third. From there, Brett Krill just had to hit yet another UCLA sacrifice fly and the Bruins were holding a 6-1 lead that they would carry to the end.
UCLA and Washington St. resume their three-game Pac-10 set on Saturday at 2 pm PDT. Trevor Bauer (9-3, 2.95 ERA) will start for UCLA and James Wise (3-1, 4.24 ERA) will go for Wazzu at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The alumni band will be in attendance.