Mitchell Beacom kept UCLA in the game, but the Bruins couldn't muster a comeback (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)
In UCLA's last Pac-10 game it was a big ninth inning that did the Bruins in as Stanford struck for four to come back and win. On Friday night in the series opener against Oregon St., UCLA got bit by another big inning as the Beavers plated six runs in the fifth inning to take down the Bruins, 7-5. What was also eerily familiar was Gerrit Cole struggling, something that has happened in three straight starts. UCLA now sits at 22-15 on the season and 10-6 in the Pac-10, tied for third place and 2.5 games behind the first-place Beavers.
After never giving up more than four runs in any start all season, Cole has now given up at least five in his last three starts. That's because the right-hander gave up seven runs on 10 hits in only 4.1 innings against the Beavers to pick up the loss and fall to 4-5 on the season. Lost in Cole's struggles was the tremendous job that Mitchell Beacom did in relief of him. The lanky left-hander tossed 4.2 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball and struck out four to keep the Bruins in the game until the end.
At the plate, it was a more than respectable performance for UCLA. Against one of the best pitchers in the Pac-10, the Bruins struck for five runs in eight hits behind a three-hit game by Beau Amaral. One of those hits went for a triple and Amaral scored two runs in a contest that saw him extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Dean Espy chipped in with a pair of hits of his own and also had three RBI.
It took all of two batters for UCLA to make their mark on Oregon St. starter Sam Gaviglio. The Beavers' pitcher entered the ballgame with a 1.68 ERA, but Amaral's one-out triple in the first was the first knock on the OSU right-hander. One batter later, Espy lined out to center, but it was more than deep enough for Amaral to tag and score from third for the first run of the game.
Cole ran into his first bit of trouble in the second when he surrendered three consecutive on-out singles, but he got a pair of strike outs to strand three on base without a man coming across to score.
An inning later, Cole wouldn't be so lucky. A single and walk put two on with one out when the Beavers picked up a double to right that scored a run to tie the game at 1-1. A hit by pitch with two outs loaded up the bases again for Cole and while he was able to get out of that jam, the game was all tied up again.
It wouldn't be tied for long though. Jeff Gelalich started off the frame with a walk and a single by Amaral moved him over to third. From there, all Espy had to do was hit a ground ball and that's what he did with a ground out to second base that scored Gelalich to restore the Bruins' one-run lead.
That lead would grow in the following inning when the Bruins struck for three. Steve Rodriguez singled to start the inning and Pat Valaika followed with a bunt that the Beavers let roll and roll, hoping for ti to go foul. Instead, the ball game to a stop on the foul line and Valaika had himself a single. A sacrifice bunt moved each runner up 90 feet and an intentional walk loaded up the bases for Espy. The junior grounded one back up the box and it caught Gaviglio on the leg and while he would be alright, Espy was on with a RBI single. Cody Regis followed with a fielder's choice that got the runner at second, but despite not having a chance of getting Regis at first for the double play, OSU tried anyways and the throw got away. A second run scored on the play and UCLA's lead was up to 5-1.
Only a half inning later, things would go very wrong for Cole and the Bruins. Consecutive doubles, the second of which went off of Gelalich's glove in right, put men on second and third with nobody out. After a walk to load the bases, a liner towards right center kept tailing away from a chasing Amaral and got into the gap for a bases clearing triple. A one-out bloop single to center scored that man from third and the game was tied at five apiece. A single by the next man and Cole got the hook. Beacom had a rough start, hitting the first man he faced to load up the bases. From there, a sacrifice fly put the Beavers ahead a run and allowed the man to tag from second to third, which would prove key when Beacom balked to force him in to score.
Trailing 7-5, UCLA couldn't really get the offense going and with a lock down bullpen, Oregon St. was in a good spot. A pair of singles in the seventh inning put two on with only one out, but a fly out and ground out left them there.
A single by Amaral to start the ninth inning was the last chance the Bruins had to even up the ballgame, but they couldn't get the job done. Amaral's single brought up the tying run, but a line out, shallow fly out and pop up to second put a wrap on the night with the Beavers grabbing the series' first game.