Scott Griggs was great on Saturday, but part of a bullpen that faltered on Sunday (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)
UCLA's seven-game win streak is done. Despite leading by two runs going to the eighth, the Bruins could hold on and extend their winning streak, but as disappointing is how close they came to making a ninth inning comeback. Instead of a comeback, though, the tying run was left just 90 feet away as Cal staved off UCLA, 6-5, to avoid the sweep and essentially hand the Pac-12 crown to Oregon.
The Bruins are the conference's defending champion, but they won't get another this season barring a major collapse. Ducks lead the conference by a game over Arizona and by two games over a trio of teams that includes UCLA with Oregon holding the tiebreaker over all four heading into the final week of the season.
Unfortunately for UCLA, they lost today despite getting a good performance from Zack Weiss. The sophomore allowed just two runs, one earned, on nine hits in six innings and most importantly, he only walked one. He exited the game in line for the win, but the bullpen couldn't hold it. Grant Watson worked one scoreless inning, but then David Berg allowed three runs, two earned, while retiring just one and Scott Griggs retired just two while allowing one run in a four-run eighth that saw Cal grab the lead.
Just as Weiss' strong start was wasted, Trevor Brown's wonderful day at the plate went for naught. With Tyler Heineman and Pat Valaika out again, Brown moved to the clean up spot and thriving, going 4-for-4 and scored twice to lead the Bruins. Jeff Gelalich had two his and two RBI and Cody Regis had two RBI of his own as part of a 10-hit UCLA effort, but it wasn't enough to make it eight straight wins.
UCLA put Cal behind in the top of the first for the second straight game, even if this time the lead wouldn't last long. Beau Amaral walked to start the game, took second on a passed ball, third on a fly ball and then scored on a single by Gelalich to put the Bruins up in the first. The Golden Bears came right back in the bottom half of the inning, though, and evened the game at one apiece.
It looked like the Bruins would waste a chance to get the lead back in the fourth, but they managed to scratch out a run the hard way. Consecutive walks to start the inning for the Bruins going and after a sacrifice bunt an intentional walk loaded the bases. A fly ball to center followed, but it wasn't deep enough for Brown to tag and score from third, putting UCLA on the verge of wasting the inning. That's when Kevin Williams just stood there and just took a hit by pitch, forcing Brown in and while they did leave the bases loaded, at least they got a run to regain the lead.
But just like the first inning, Cal wouldn't be behind for long. Chadd Krist led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run to left center and the game was all even once again.
The game wouldn't be even for long because the following half inning, UCLA grabbed the lead back with a two-out rally. Brown got things going with a two-out single and Shane Zeile followed with one of his own to bring up Cody Regis. The junior then crushed a pitch into the gap, scoring both runners and the Bruins had themselves a 4-2 lead.
Once again, Cal came back the very next half inning, but this time Weiss got out of it. The Golden Bears loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the fifth, but Weiss was able to induce a double play then get a pop up to keep the Bruins in front.
Both teams had a chance to get back on the scoreboard in the seventh, but double plays ended that. UCLA had men on the corners with one out in the top half of the inning, but a double play ended the inning. Then with men at second and third in the bottom half of the inning, Amaral caught a fly ball in center and threw the man out trying to tag and score for an inning-ending double play of the Bruins' own.
The game turned again in the eighth inning when the Golden Bears grabbed the lead for good. First an error by Kevin Kramer put a man on with out out before Andrew Knapp doubled to score a run. After a walk, Berg came out of the game and Griggs came in, but that didn't help things. Consecutive singles scored the two base runners and the Bears had themselves a 5-4 lead. A strikeout was good for the second out, but then another single scored another run and Cal had themselves a 6-4 lead that they would take into the ninth.
After the first two Bruins went down in the top of the ninth it looked like UCLA would go down quietly, but that wasn't the case. Cody Keefer picked up a single and took second on an error, then Gelalich added a single of his own to score Keefer. That cut the Cal lead to 6-5 and the go-ahead run came to the plate. Brown's fourth hit of the game then moved Gelalich, the tying run, to third, but then pinch hitter Eric Filia-Snyder struck out looking and the Bears just barely hung on for the win.