Most of the time when Gerrit Cole starts for UCLA they can count on a well pitched game so when the Bruins went out and got four runs against Stanford's very good ace Mark Appel, it figured that it would be enough to win. Cole didn't have his best game though as he surrendered two of the Cardinal's three home runs and UCLA dropped the opening game of their three-game Pac-10 set in Palo Alto, 7-4. The loss leaves the Bruins 20-13 overall and in a three-way tie in conference at 9-4.
While Cole was not as his best and four runs against a good ace is a solid offensive output, UCLA will definitely be left wonder what could have been after leaving 12 men on base at Sunken Diamond. The Bruins pounded out 11 hits and they even got help with four walks, but it resulted in just four runs. Dean Espy led the way with three hits and a run score, while Chris Giovinazzo had a pair of hits himself. Cody Regis picked up a hit to stretch his hitting streak to 14 games and Beau Amaral added to his hitting streak as well with a hit, pushing it to 10 games.
For Cole, it was not a night to remember. The right-hander allowed nine hits in 6.1 innings and it resulted in six earned runs. Five of those runs came on two home runs, the first a three-run homer and the second, a two-run home on his last pitch of the game. Most amazingly, Cole only struck out one batter all game. Mitchell Beacom got a rude welcome to the game when the first pitch he threw was hit out for a homer, but he retired the next five batters he faced and struck out three.
UCLA's first chance to get on the board came right away in the first inning. A two-out single by Espy and walk by Regis put two on base and a passed ball moved each up 90 feet. With two in scoring position though, Giovinazzo looked at strike three on a full count to end the inning.
An inning later, Stanford did get their opportunity with two outs and they took advantage. Two singles put two men on with two outs, just like the Bruins had. Also like the Bruins, the count went full, but the Cardinal got the hit that the Bruins didn't when the ball was launched out to left field for a three-run homer that put the Cardinal in front, 3-0.
Just because they fell behind, UCLA didn't call asleep though. They came back in the next half inning with a rally of their own. Amaral walked and Espy singled to put two men on base again and this time Regis singled back up the middle to score Amaral from second for the Bruins' first tally. Giovinazzo followed that up with a double to left, scoring Espy to cut the Stanford lead to just one run. After Cody Keefer was hit by a pitch, UCLA had the bases loaded with only one out, but the Bruins left them there as a strike out and fly out ended the frame with them still down a run.
The fifth inning gave the Bruins another chance as Espy led off the inning with a single and was bunted over to second, but the strike out reared its ugly head ahead. A strike out meant that Espy was still stuck at second with two outs and the Cardinal managed to get out of the inning with their lead intact.
That lead would not be intact for long though. An inning later, UCLA got even. After the first two batters of the frame were retired, Pat Valaika, Jeff Gelalich and Amaral singled in succession to bring Valaika around for the tying run.
As quickly as the Bruins tied the game though, the Cardinal grabbed the lead back. A hit by pitch an single put two Cardinals on the base and once again, Stanford came through with two outs. This time all it took was a single to center and the go-ahead run came in from second to give Stanford a 4-3 lead.
That 4-3 lead would only getting bigger in the seventh as the home run hit the Bruins. A lead off walk was followed by a sacrifice, but it didn't matter if the base runner was at first or second. That's because the next pitch was blasted out to left field for a two-run home run that stretched the Cardinal's lead out to 6-3. That pitch would be Cole's last, but it wouldn't be the last homer. Beacom entered and the very first pitch he saw was hit out to left field to give Stanford another run of cushion.
The Bruins didn't go away, but they didn't quite have enough to get even. A single by Valaika and walk by Gelalich put a man in scoring position and when the Cardinal made an error on a pop up, Valaika came in to cut the Stanford lead to 7-4. That mean that with Gelalich and Amaral on, Espy came to the plate as the tying run, but a strike out ended the frame and essentially the game as Stanford grabbed the series opener.