It's getting redundant, but if you're a Bruin in no way is it getting old. Once again on Friday night, Trevor Bauer pitched UCLA to victory as he tossed his third consecutive complete game in a dominant effort that pushed the Bruins to a 4-1 win over Stanford at Sunken Diamond. The win evened up the Pac-10 series at a game apiece and set the stage for a huge rubber match on Saturday afternoon. UCLA now stands at 21-13 overall and 10-4 in the Pac-10, which is good for a second place tie in the conference.
Outstanding pitching performances by Bauer are becoming the norm. Four times in eight weeks this season he's been named Louisville Slugger National Pitcher of the Week and he may add another one this week. The right-hander tied his career-high with 17 strike outs on Friday night and won his seventh consecutive start to improve to 8-1 on the year. He allowed just one run on four hits and now has at least 10 strike outs in nine of his 10 starts this year as well as at least 13 strike outs in five starts.
All but once UCLA starter picked up a hit on Friday night and it led to a total of 12 hits in the contest. Cody Regis had two hits to extend his hit streak to 15 games and Beau Amaral also extended his hit streak to 11 games with a hit of his own. Cody Keefer led the way with three hits, two of which went for doubles, two runs and a RBI. Dean Espy also picked up a pair of hits and a RBI as the Bruins made it seven straight games with at least four runs.
UCLA's 7-4 loss to Stanford on Thursday night was marred by missed opportunities as the Bruins left 12 men on base. That trend continued early in Friday's game as well as they put two men on in the first inning, but were unable to bring them home. The third inning saw another Bruin get into scoring position, but once again, he was left out on base.
The missed opportunities came back to haunt the Bruins in the bottom of the third when the strike out that has benefitted Bauer so much this year hurt him. Two singles and a walk loaded up the bases for the Cardinal and put some pressure on Bauer. He handled the pressure just fine in getting a strike out, but the third strike got past Steve Rodriguez. The batter reached first on the dropped third strike and every runner moved up 90 feet, including the man at third who came in to score to put Stanford ahead.
Stanford wasn't ahead for long though. A one-out single by Chris Giovinazzo put a man on base for the Bruins in the fourth when Keefer drove one deep to right center and off the wall. The drive was good for a double and brought Giovinazzo around from first to score and tied the game at one apiece. A ground out went for the second run of the inning, but it also moved Keefer to third. That proved to be important as a wild pitch allowed Keefer to come in from third and score the go-ahead run.
Pat Valaika helped UCLA add to that lead in the fifth when Pat Valaika led off the inning when a double. After a strike out and a ground out moved Valaika to third, Espy singled to shortstop. Valaika came in to score on the base hit and the UCLA lead was stretched to 3-1.
Keefer's double in the fourth helped drive in a run, but his double in the sixth helped him score a run. He started the frame off with a two-bagger and when Rodriguez singled back up the middle, Keefer trotted hom for another Bruin run.
With a 4-1 lead, Bauer had a cushion, even if he didn't need it. After giving up his lone run in the third, Bauer didn't allow another man into scoring position until the eighth when a two-out single moved a base runner to third. Bauer didn't allow him to come in and score though, preserving the 4-1 lead before finishing off the game, fittingly, with a strike out to even the series at 1-1. Now the Bruins and Cardinal turn to Saturday when the series winner will be determined in a major Pac-10 statement game.