The UCLA offense has had its issues this season, but when they were challenged by Washington St. on Saturday afternoon at Bailey-Brayton Field they responded. The Bruins trailed early, but came back to take a lead that they hoped would stand up with Trevor Bauer on the mound. It did not as the Cougars came back to tie the Bruins, but that's when the offense answered Washington St.'s challenge and made its statement. A half inning after losing their lead, UCLA added a four spot and added three more in the ninth to grab a 10-3 win over Washington St. that puts them at 16-10 on the season and keeps them atop the Pac-10 at 7-1.
As has been the case whenever UCLA's offense does the job, everyone got in on the action. Cody Keefer was the only Bruin not to pick up a hit and he still drew two walks in the ballgame. Cody Regis extended his hit streak to seven games with a 3-5, four RBI, one run effort and Steve Rodriguez also had three hits and a RBI in the ballgame. Jeff Gelalich and Beau Amaral got the job done at the top of the UCLA lineup with two hits, two runs, a RBI, a walk and stolen base apiece. In all, UCLA totaled 15 hits, six of which went for extra bases, for their second highest run total of the year.
Bauer has made a habit of setting UCLA record this season, already claiming the school's all-time strike out record earlier this season. On Saturday he grabbed a share of another all-time record as he picked up his 27th career win to tie Alex Sanchez for the most in school history. He did that with a complete game effort, his second of the season, that saw him surrender three runs on six hits. He also continued to add to his incredible strike out total, punching out 15 to give him double digit strike outs in seven of his eight starts this season.
UCLA might have felt like this game was going to be like so many others this season when they couldn't cash in on a first inning opportunity. Gelalich started off the game with a single and Espy singled with one out to put two men on, but a weak grounder and simple fly out ended the frame without a Bruin run.
The Bruins couldn't make use of a third inning chance either. A single by Amaral and walks by Pat Valaika and Espy loaded up the bases, but Regis hit into a double play that was aided by interference and UCLA once again left an opportunity out there.
That missed opportunity would come back to hurt the Bruins just one batter later. Bauer had to come to the hitter on a 2-2 pitch and the Cougars' lead off man in the bottom of the third made him pay by driving the ball to deep right and out for a home run.
Fans could have been excused if they began to wonder whether that single run would be enough to down the Bruins considering their offensive struggles this season, but UCLA put any pessimistic thoughts away in the fifth inning, at least for the time being. A single by Rodriguez and walk by Valaika got UCLA in business, but when Gelalich's sacrifice bunt was poor and allowed the Cougars to get Rodriguez at third some hopes were dampened. Amaral walked to load up the bases for Espy though, who lifted a fly ball to deep left. It went for an out, but it did the job as it allowed Valaika to tag and score from third to tie the game at one apiece. UCLA then flashed some aggressive base running by pulling off a double steal and it paid off when Regis singled to score them both for a 3-1 UCLA lead.
An inning later, Washington St. erased the UCLA lead. A one-out walked was followed by a double into right center, scoring a run and putting the tying run in scoring position. Bauer got a strike out that gave him a chance of escaping the inning with the Bruins' lead intact, but the Cougars struck for another double that evened the game at three apiece.
Valaika started off UCLA's answer by roping a double down the left field line, but Gelalich bettered him with a triple that gave UCLA their lead back at 4-3. That was hardly the end for the Bruins in the seventh though. Amaral singled home Gelalich and Espy double to put two men in scoring position with nobody out and UCLA already up 5-3. Regis only added to that lead with a double of his own, easily scoring Gelalich and Espy for a 7-3 Bruin advantage to cap the UCLA response without making an out.
In case Bauer was going to tire at all in the ninth, UCLA got him some more cushion. A single by Regis was followed by a Chris Giovinazzo double that brought hom Regis. Two batters later, Trevor Brown added a double of his own that plated Giovinazzo to stretch that UCLA lead to 9-3. Just for good measure, Rodriguez added to it with a single that scored Brown and the Bruins had a 10-3 lead.
Any worry that Bauer might tire in the ninth was put away when he struck out the first batter he faced in the frame. He also struck out the final batter for his 15 strike out total as UCLA grabbed the series win from the Cougars and gave themselves the opportunity to make it a sweep on Sunday.