There were lots of ugly swings on Friday night (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)
So much for building momentum. After having their five-game win streak snapped in midweek action with consecutive losses, UCLA was supposed to use the weekend series against a Cal St. Bakersfield team that had lost 11 of 13 to regain momentum for their final two Pac-10 series of the season. Instead they were beaten and beaten soundly in the series opener. Four runs in the first two innings set the tone as the Roadrunners cruised to a 5-1 win over the Bruins that leaves UCLA at 27-19 on the year.
Last weekend's strong start against Oregon made many believe that Gerrit Cole had broken out of his rut, but it didn't look like it at the start of Friday's game. Cole gave up four runs on seven hits in just the first two innings to put the Bruins in a hole and the way that the offense was going, that was always going to be enough to win. By the time the game came to an end, Cole had thrown a complete game on 113 pitches, but he gave up give runs on 10 hits. The junior struck out seven and walked two, but took the loss and is now 5-6 on the year.
Over the course of the ballgame, UCLA sent just 29 batters to the plate. They got only one walk and two hits, one on a bunt and the other from a pinch-hitter. Marc Navarro had that pinch-hit, smacking a RBI double, while Beau Amaral had the only other hit as he bunted for a single. Chris Giovinazzo reached on an error and scored the Bruins' only run of the game.
Bakersfield were clearly looking to jump on the Cole fastball early in the count and it proved to be successful from the start. A one-out single on the first pitch got the Roadrunners going in the first inning and it was followed by a a single and a walk to load the bases. A fielder's choice got the runner at second, but it allowed a run to score and the Roadrunners were on the board. A single followed and UCLA was trailing 2-0 before even getting a chance at the plate.
The second inning didn't go any better for Cole. The first pitch he threw in the inning was deposited on top of the hitting facility in right for a home run. A single and sacrifice bunt followed to put a man in scoring position, then a single scored him and the Bruins were down 4-0.
A one-out bunt single by Amaral in the fourth finally gave the Bruins a base runner, but a double play followed and erased him. A Steve Rodriguez lead off walk in the sixth didn't do any good either as a fly out, strike out and line out left him stranded on first.
The Roadrunners added to their lead in the seventh when they started off the inning swinging again. The first pitch of the inning went for a double and was followed by a single. With one out, Bakersfield for a sacrifice fly to center and their lead was up to 5-0.
Finally in the eighth, UCLA got a run. Giovinazzo reached with one out on an error and was given second base on a balk. A strike out made it look like he would be stranded at second, but Navarro came through with a pinch-hit double to score him and the Bakersfield lead was down to 5-1.
Of course, that's where it would end as the Bruins could muster anything in the ninth and were forced to swallow their third straight loss.