Trevor Bauer was dominant as he became UCLA's all-time wins leader (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Trevor Bauer has had some sensational games in a UCLA uniform. He's thrown one-hitters and he's struck out 17 before. He's won in the Regionals, the Super Regional and at the College World Series. As good as he's been though, he may not have ever been better than he was on Saturday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The junior tossed a complete game four-hitter and struck out 13 to become UCLA's all-time wins leader in the Bruins' 4-0 victory over Arizona to even the series. That sets up a Sunday's rubber match in a key Pac-10 series for the Bruins, who are now 18-12 overall and 8-3 in the Pac-10.
Right from the outset, Bauer was clicking. Going up against the Pac-10's best offense and one of the best in the country, Bauer made them look helpless. Only two Wildcats made it to second base all game and Bauer's 13 punch outs means that he has now struck out at least 10 in eight of his nine starts this season. Most impressive was how strong Bauer was at the end of the game. He touched 95 mph in the seventh inning and was still sitting at 92 mph in the ninth inning. It was that type of stuff that allowed Bauer to retire the final 11 batters he faced to pick up his second consecutive complete game. As good as his fastball was though, it was Bauer's curveball that was unhittable all afternoon and helped Bauer add UCLA all-time wins leader to the all-time strike out crown he already claimed earlier this season.
UCLA did enough to get the job done at the plate too, pounding out 10 hits to put a four spot up on the scoreboard. With just one extra base hit it wasn't the power that did the damage for the Bruins, but their ability to execute the fundamentals that their offense is reliant on. Four batters walked for UCLA and twice they got sacrifice bunts down, including on a squeeze. Beau Amaral and Steve Rodriguez led the way with three hits apiece, while Amaral scored a run and Rodriguez drove one in. Cody Regis also chipped in with a two hit effort and RBI to help UCLA even the series with Arizona.
Arizona picked up a bloop single in the first, but it didn't result in anything because the Wildcat was thrown out trying to steal second. UCLA also picked up a first inning single, but Amaral was thrown out trying to steal as well. That would come back to hurt the Bruins as Dean Espy walked, Regis singled and Chris Giovinazzo walked to load the bases, but no runs would score in the inning.
One of the two times that Arizona put a man in scoring position all game came in the third. A lead off single and slow roller back to Bauer put a man on second with only one out, but Bauer had no trouble getting out of the jam. A ground out and strike out ended the frame and the game remained scoreless.
The game would only remain scoreless until the fourth inning when the Bruins struck with some help from the Wildcats. Giovinazzo reached on an error and Cody Keefer singled to put two on with none out. Most expected Kevin Williams to bunt, Arizona included as they had their corner infielders charging, but Williams took a hack and lined out to left. Some thought that may cost the Bruins a chance at a run, but Rodriguez followed with a single through the ride side to score Giovinazzo from second and send Keefer into third. That set the table for Pat Valaika to lay down a perfect first pitch squeeze bunt to scored Keefer for a 2-0 UCLA lead.
An inning later, UCLA would add to their lead. Amaral led off the inning with a single to left and proceeded to steal second. When Regis came to the plate with one out, Amaral was still waiting on second base, but he wouldn't be out there for much longer. Regis smoked a single to right and Amaral came flying around third before a good slide at the plate got him in with the run and 3-0 Bruin advantage.
The Wildcats did their best to respond quickly and they put Bauer into a corner. A one out double and single on back-to-back pitches in the sixth put men at second and third with just one out. Bauer responded though, striking out the next two batters he faced to get out of the inning without a run across.
A walk by Keefer and single by Rodriguez put men on the corners for the Bruins in the eighth and the Wildcats handed them one more insurance run from there. A wild pitch made its way to the backstop and Keefer made his way home, coming across to add another run to the Bruins' lead.
Bauer's consecutive strike outs to end the sixth and get out of the jam were the beginning of what would end up being 11 straight Wildcats retired in order. The junior finished out the game with one more strike outs in the ninth and without the ball leaving the infield to cap both a sensational start and a UCLA win.