A one-hit, six inning scoreless start from Garett Claypool and five Casey Haerther RBI led UCLA to a 7-5 win over Long Beach St. Tuesday night. The win moved UCLA's record to within a game of .500 at 20-21 with a trip to the Pac-10's worst team, Oregon, on this weekend's slate. The Bruins will head up to Eugene with a bit of a hot streak as the win over Long Beach St. is the Bruins' 10th in their last 14 contests.
Coming off of a disastrous start last week in which he gave up four runs without retiring a batter, Claypool showed he was a completely different pitcher this week early on by striking out three of the first four batters he faced. The junior right-hander tossed six innings on the night and struck out seven Dirtbags en route to his first win of the season.
The Bruins' offense didn't waste much time getting going on a chilly night at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Eddie Murray and Chris Giovinazzo both singled to kick start the UCLA first and following an out, Cody Decker walked to load the bases. Casey Haerther, still in the DH spot as he deals with his broken toe, came to the plate and quickly fell behind 0-2. He fouled off a pitch and took a ball before getting the pitch he wanted and driving it deep to left and over the fence for a grand slam.
Leading 4-0, the UCLA offense didn't relax. Niko Gallego singled to lead off the second inning and took second on a sacrifice bunt. Murray then drove a ball to right field that dropped in for a double. While Murray was thrown out trying to stretch his double into a triple, Gallego had already scored to give the Bruins a 5-0 lead.
Haerther's night wasn't over yet and he struck again in the third. Following a leadoff double by Blair Dunlap, Decker struck out to set the stage for Haerther. Again, Haerther came through with a two strike hit and while it wasn't another roundtripper, it was a single that brought Dunlap home and stretched the UCLA lead to 6-0.
Because he'd thrown over 100 pitches, Claypool exited the game following the sixth and turned the ball over to Rob Rasmussen. The southpaw didn't have quite the same success as Claypool, but he was able to get out of the seventh having allowed only one run despite surrendering a leadoff double.
What once seemed like a sure UCLA victory got a bit dicey in the eighth inning though as the Dirtbags made their push. After walking the first batter, Rasmussen was pulled in favor of Jason Novak. The Long Beach St. baserunner swiped second base while Novak was focused on his first batter, who Novak got to ground out to third. The next batter singled though and brought home the runner from second. The next batter singled too, bringing an end to Novak's day as the left-hander, Brendan Lafferty was brought in to douse the fire. Lafferty's first pitch of the game was a wild pitch, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. While he was able to record an out, Lafferty also allowed a single that scored the two Dirtbag runners and cut the UCLA lead to 6-4. With the tying run at the plate, head coach John Savage couldn't take any chances and brought in his closer, Gavin Brooks, even though he had pitched in all three games last weekend versus Oregon St. Brooks was able to get a fly out to right to end the inning and then he got some insurance.
With two out in the bottom of the eighth, Decker walked and Haerther reached on an error. Then, Gabe Cohen hit a looping liner that dropped in front of the center fielder and allowed Decker to score from second. The hit extended Cohen's hit streak to 10 games and more importantly, gave the Bruins some breathing room at 7-4.
Brooks went back to the bump in the ninth and despite giving up a run and allowing the tying run to come to the plate, he was able to pick up his eighth save of the 2009 season.
Murray and Haerther were the only Bruins with multiple hits in the game and they accounted for six of the Bruins' seven RBI. Haerther's five batted in is a career-high for the junior and his 32nd RBI on the year in just 34 starts.