Once again, Nick Vander Tuig was just good enough for UCLA (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)
Whereas the first game of Saturday's doubleheader was pretty easy for UCLA thanks to Adam Plutko's sensational start, the second game was anything but. Purdue jumped out to an early lead and even once the Bruins came back, they could never get any separation. The Boilermakers made things really tough, out-hitting the Bruins 10-4, but runs are what matter. In the end, all the struggle was worth it for UCLA as they took game two, 3-2, to sweep the doubleheader in a crucial non-conference series.
Nick Vander Tuig isn't going to get a medal was working deep into games or making things easy on himself anytime soon, but he continues to do just enough to put UCLA in position to win. He failed to finish six innings for the seventh consecutive start, but he worked 5.2 innings of two-run ball to pick up the win. He improved to 6-3 on the year and added five strikeouts to his ledger without surrendering a walk. Grant Watson worked an inning and David Berg tossed got four outs before Scott Griggs picked up his 11th save of the year by striking out the side in the ninth.
It's a good thing that the pitching was good because the offense wasn't. With just four hits and three walks to their name, UCLA wasn't putting regular pressure on Purdue, but they manufactured runs when they did get opportunities. Jeff Gelalich led the way with two hits and a run as he got back on track. Kevin Williams added a hit and a run, while Beau Amaral had a hit and RBI of his own as the Bruins did just enough to finish up a good day at the ballpark.
At no point did Vander Tuig look particularly comfortable on the mound and Purdue always seemed close to knocking the door down in a big way. The Boilermakers put men on the corners in the first inning, but Vander Tuig got out of the jam.
Vander Tuig wouldn't be so lucky in the second inning as David Miller hit a full count pitch out to with two outs to give Purdue a 1-0 lead. It could have been worse, but Amaral made a tremendous diving catch ont he leadoff man and kept Miller's blast a solo shot.
A one-out double got Vander Tuig in trouble in the third inning and then, once again, the Boilermakers came through with two outs. A two-out single to center plated the man from second and UCLA was down 2-0.
UCLA worked quickly to get back in the ballgame and they did a half inning later with some clutch two-out hitting of ther own. Kevin Kramer walked then took second and third on a wild pitch to bring up Amaral with the freshman on third base. Amaral ran the count full, then came through with a single, scoring Kramer and getting UCLA back within a run.
After Vander Tuig's first easy inning of the game, UCLA got even with Purdue and the wild pitch proved helpful yet again. Gelalich led off the frame with a bloop double to left before he tagged and took third on Trevor Brown's fly out to right. He then got to cruise on home when a pitch found its way to the backstop and UCLA was all even again.
Another easy inning for Vander Tuig brought up the Bruin offense again and for the third straight inning they had a run in them. WIlliams singled to lead off the frame and Amaral followed with a walk. After Tyler Heineman laid down a sacrifice bunt to move each runner up 90 feet, Cody Keefer hit a grounder to third. Williams broke home on contact and had there been a play at the plate it would have been close, but Purdue took the out at first instead and UCLA led 3-2.
After getting the first two outs of the sixth inning, Miller got to Vander Tuig one more time with a base hit and the hurler's day was done. Watson then entered and got out of the inning without throwing a pitch because he picked Miller off first as soon as he touched the rubber.
The Bruins never threatened to score again, but it didn't matter because the bullpen put the game away, as they have been doing all year. Watson got the first two outs in the seventh inning before Berg got the last out with just a two-out single disrupting what looked to be easy work. Berg then worked an easy eighth before handing the ball to Griggs for the ninth.
Griggs had struggled in his last couple save opportunities, walking guys left and right but still managing to hold on. He didn't struggle at all against Purdue, though. Miller continued to be a thorn in the Bruins' side with a one-out single, but Griggs struck out the other three batters he faced on no more than four pitches to put an exclamation point on a great day for UCLA.