UCLA is now all alone atop the Pac-10 thanks to Gerrit Cole's second consecutive complete game (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Sometimes you don't need a consistent offense. Sometimes one inning of offense will do the trick. That's all UCLA got on Friday evening in Pullman, Washington as they relied on Gerrit Cole's second consecutive complete game to lead them to a 3-1 win over Washington St. A three-run third inning did the trick for the Bruins and from there it was just a matter of letting the flame throwing right-hander go to work as the Bruins improved to 15-10 on the season and 6-1 in the Pac-10, good enough for sole possession of first place.
Last week Cole led the Bruins to victory with a complete game, one run effort. On Friday he did the same, except he did it while limiting the Cougars to just five hits and the one run he was nicked for was unearned. The junior added seven strike outs and walked just one in a 113 pitch effort. The consecutive complete games by Cole, and his third nine inning stint of the season, are further proof of Cole's growth as he's learned to be much more efficient in his two and a half years in Westwood.
The Bruins put together a nine-hit game, which is nothing exceptional, but certainly a respectable total. Again, there were no batter who stood out in the box score, but just about everyone made a contribution. Eight of the nine UCLA position players picked up hits, led by Dean Espy's 2-4, two RBI performance. Chris Giovinazzo took a turn as the Bruins' lead off man and did the job, scoring a run and driving one in at Bailey-Brayton Field. Interestingly, against a left-handed starter UCLA went with five left-handed hitters and they came through. Each picked up a hit, while the five also added a pair of runs and a couple walks for the Bruins.
Neither team did much offensively until the third inning, which happened to be the inning that would win UCLA the ballgame. Jeff Gelalich started the fram with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Steve Rodriguez. A double by Giovinazzo doubled and allowed Gelalich to score for the game's first run. After a walk by Beau Amaral, Espy chipped in with a double of his own that allowed both Giovinazzo and Amaral to come around for a 3-0 UCLA lead.
Cole didn't allowed a base runner until the third inning when the Cougars picked up a pair of singles. Cole buckled down and got out of the inning though to keep the Bruins' three run lead intact.
An inning later, Washington St. cut into the Bruins' lead with some help from the UCLA defense. A lead off double got the Cougars and a throwing error by Rodriguez allowed the man to take third. Cole got a key strike out to give him a chance of getting out of the inning unscathed, but a ground out followed and scored a run.
With their lead cut to 3-1, UCLA didn't like to see the fifth inning start the same way the fourth did. A lead off double gave Wazzu the chance to take another piece out of the Bruins' lead, but this time Cole got out of the trouble without giving up a run. A ground out moved the runner over to third with one out, but Cole got the vital strike out for out number two before a ground out ended the frame.
UCLA had chances to add to their lead in the seventh and ninth innings, but couldn't get it done. A lead off single by Trevor Brown and sacrifice bunt gave UCLA a man in scoring position and Giovinazzo was hit by a pitch to put two on in the seventh, but both were left on base. in the ninth, the Bruins loaded the bases with one out, but a pop up and ground out ended that scoring opportunity.
It ended up not mattering that UCLA couldn't add to their lead. As he had been doing all game, Cole shut down the Cougars in the ninth inning with a perfect frame as the Bruins vaulted into first place in the Pac-10 all by themselves.