As has become the norm this season, UCLA couldn't get the offense going so if the pitching wasn't perfect, the Bruins were in trouble. On Friday night in the opening game of the Dodgertown Classic against Georgia at Jackie Robinson Stadium, UCLA got perfect pitching for 6.1 innings, but when that string went away so did the Bruins as they fell to the Bulldogs, 6-2. With the loss, UCLA is now 7-5 and will have to take the final two games of the weekend to avoid their third consecutive losing weekend.
A week ago, Gerrit Cole kept a perfect game through 6.2 innings against Nebraska and went nine scoreless inning only to take the no decision as the Bruins were shut out until the 11th inning. On Friday night, Cole tossed 6.1 perfect innings, but with UCLA still without a run at that point, Cole got into some trouble en route to absorbing the loss to drop his record to 1-2 on the year.. With the help of an error, Georgia stuck for a four-run seventh inning and Cole went out of the game having allowed four runs, three earned, on three hits with 12 strike outs. Zack Weiss struck out two in his two innings, but allowed a two-run homer.
At the plate it was a lot of nothing for the Bruins again. Through eight innings the Bruins had only four hits and finished the game with just six for their sixth game of three runs or less this season. Chris GIovinazoo led the Bruin hitters with a 2-4 effort including a solo home run and Dean Espy added a pair of hits himself. Beau Amaral and Tyler Rahmatulla picked up the two other hits and Rahmatulla also scored a run, while Cody Keefer picked up a RBI. The biggest problem for UCLA was a common problem for the Bruins this season as they were struck out 14 times.
Early on in the game, Cole was pitching as well as he ever has. The junior never threw a pitch faster than 94 mph in the first two innings, instead using a two-seam fastball at 91 mph with great arm-side run to baffle Georgia hitters. He would back that up with a great slider and change up and through two innings he was cruising.
In the third inning, Cole bumped it up a little bit by picking up a pair of strike outs with 96 and 98 mph fastballs. His dominance continued to the fourth inning when he struck out all three batters in the inning and he struck out the first batter of the fifth for his fifth consecutive strike out.
While Cole was dealing, the UCLA offense was quiet. A one-out double by Amaral in the first inning gave the Bruins a chance and while a ground out moved him to third, Amaral was left on base. A similar situation occurred in the third inning when Brian Carroll was hit by a pitch and stole second, but he too was left on base.
UCLA's biggest blown opportunity came in the fifth inning when Giovinazzo singled and an error allowed Adrian Williams to reach. With men on the corners and only one out though, Steve Rodriguez lifted a fly ball to shallow center field, not nearly deep enough to score Giovinazzo from third. William was heads up on the play and realized nobody was covering second base so he tagged up on the play to put men on second and third with two outs. Carroll came to the plate and despite falling behind in a two-strike count he battled all the way back to 3-2, but he struck out looking at a great breaking ball to strand two men on base.
In the seventh inning, the Bulldogs finally got to Cole, who had to be feeling the pressure of being in his 17th consecutive inning without the offense scoring a run for him. A one-out double in left center ended the right-handers bid for a perfect game and he didn't get any help when an error allowed the next man to reach base. What followed were a pair of run scoring plays as a single to right scored one and then a 0-2 97 mph fastball that was left up was smacked over the left field fence for a three-run homer. Things didn't get much easier for Cole as another error in the inning made him work even harder, but he got out of the frame with Bruins down just 4-0.
A two-out solo home run to left field by Chris Giovinazzo was just the Bruins' second home run of the season and cut the Georgia lead to 4-1, but the Bruins still had a long ways back. That long ways back got longer in the ninth inning when Weiss surrendered a towering two-run home run to stretch the Georgia lead to 6-1.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, UCLA did their best to mount a comeback, but once again they left men on base. Singles by Rahmatulla and Espy the back-to-back walks pushed a run across for a 6-2 scoreline, but that was all for the Bruins. Despite having the bases loaded and nobody out, UCLA couldn't get another run as a strike out and 6-4-3 double play ended the game for the Bulldogs' win.
UCLA will try to get back on the winning side of things and awaken their bats on Saturday when they host St. Mary's at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The 2 pm PST game will see UCLA send Trevor Bauer (1-1, 1.85 ERA) to the hill, while St. Mary's counters with Martin Agosta (0-2, 1.64 ERA).