UCLA Strikes In The Ninth To Edge Out Fullerton, 6-3

Trevor Brown drove in the winning run in the ninth (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)

Every time UCLA went in front, Cal St. Fullerton had an answer. The Bruins go up two, the Titans had two in response. The Bruins went up one, the Titans had one in response. The battle of Southern California's two best programs in recent years looked like just that as they played each other tight for eight innings, but when UCLA put three across in the ninth, Fullerton finally didn't have an answer. The dramatic nine innings finally tilted in the Bruins' favor as they quieted the Goodwin Field crowd with a 6-3 win over the Titans to sweep the series and lay temporary claim as the area's best.

Cody Keefer's three hits led the way for the Bruins and Trevor Brown had the game-winning RBI in the ninth inning as a pair of UCLA's usual suspects came through, but it was two freshmen who really stood out. Kevin Kramer had a hit, two RBI and a run scored in the game and Shane Zeile came off the bench to pick up two RBI as the youngsters made their presence felt.

The Titans did their part to help the Bruins out too, running into four outs on the base paths. Grant Watson managed just 4.2 innings, surrendering two runs, one earned, while waling three in the no decision. Eric Jaffe allowed three hits in 1.1 innings, but no runs and David Berg worked his usual scoreless inning. An unearned run came across against Ryan Deeter, who retired just one and Scott Griggs earned his first win of the season with three strikeouts in 1.2 smooth innings.

UCLA struck first with a pair of runs in the second inning. The frame started with Brown getting hit by a pitch and Pat Valaika followed that up with a base hit. After a sacrifice bunt moved each up 90 feet they were able to trot home on Kramer's double into the right center field gap to put the Bruins on top early.

Just because they struck first does not mean that the Bruins were comfortable. Watson was living dangerously from the get-go, allowing a man to reach third in the first inning. A man got to second in the second inning and the first two Titans in the third reached in the third inning so while the Bruins were still in front, 2-0, after three frames, it wasn't as if Watson was dominating.

Fullerton finally got to Watson in the fourth when they cashed in a lead off single, but even then, they left the bases loaded. Watson's high wire act came to an end when two Titans reached with two out in the fifth as he made way for Jaffe, but Jaffe allowed a run scoring single that tied the game up at 2-2 and the game started anew.

With the game back in the balance, the UCLA offense got to work again in the sixth. A single by Keefer, hit by pitch by Jeff Gelalich and walk by Valaika loaded the bags, but pinch-hitter Zeile grounded out to strand all three.

An inning later, UCLA regained the lead and it began with Kramer. The freshman wore a pitch to start things off then with two outs, Tyler Heineman singled him to second. That brought up Keefer, who came through with a clutch double that bounced over the first base bag and into the right field corner to score Kramer and put the Bruins back in front.

After a two-out double was wasted in the bottom half of the seventh, the Titans gave it another run in the eighth and this time they came through. A pair of walks put a pair on with just one out before Kramer booted a grounder, allowing the tying tun to score. It also put the go-ahead run on third and after Griggs entered, Fullerton tried to score that runner with a squeeze bunt, but the junior hopped off the mound quickly, fielded and threw home in time for Brown to apply the tag. Brown then came up with a fine defensive play of his own, quickly getting out of his crouch to grab a chopper in front of the plate and throw to first for the inning's final out.

With the game all tied up, the Bruins had to try and find the lead again in the ninth. Heineman started things by singling before being replace by pinch-runner Brian Carroll, who took second on a wild pitch. After Gelalich singled to move him to third, Brown hit the first pitch he saw into left field to give UCLA the lead. Zeile then added some insurance with two outs, singling himself to score both Gelalich and Brown for a 6-3 lead that Griggs would hold easily in the ninth.

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