The Bruins and Cardinal entered Thursday's series opener tied for fourth in the Pac 10 at 5-4 and with both in need of a series win to ignite their regional hopes. The Bruins jumped out to an early lead over the Cardinal and the lead seemed secure with starting pitch Gerrit Cole, but Cole began to tire in the seventh and head coach John Savage was slow to give the hook. The Cardinal were able to even up the game in that seventh inning and went on to win the contest in 10 innings.
The Bruins got on the board in second inning thanks to a Stanford error. Cody Decker reached on an error to lead off the inning and moved to third on a double by Alex Weber-Shapiro. The with one out, Steve Rodriguez grounded out to third to score Decker and give UCLA a 1-0 lead.
UCLA built upon that 1-0 lead in the third inning thanks to a bit of fortune. With two out, Blair Dunlap struck out, but reached on a dropped third strike call. That extended the inning for the Bruins and Casey Haerther took advantage of it when he hit a two run blast over the right field fence to put UCLA up 3-0. The Bruins then loaded the bases with a single, walk, walk sequence, but Brett Krill grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
While the Bruin offense has put three across the plate, Cole was cruising on the mound. In Cole's first six innings, he allowed no runs and only three hits to go along with seven strikeouts. In fact, between the second and sixth innings, Cole retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced.
In the seventh inning though, everything changed. Cole began to fall behind in some counts and his pitches were catching more of the plate. As a result, the Stanford batters began to hit the freshman and Cole began to make some mistakes. The inning started with a double and that was followed by a single. Then, Cole faked to third and threw back to first, but was called for a balk, allowing a run to score and the runner on first to take second. The next batter grounded out to second, advancing the runner to third. The following batter doubled, scoring a run to make it 3-2 and the next batter singled up the middle to tie the game at three.
It was only then that Savage went to the mound to get the ball from Cole, but by then it was too late and the two clubs were even. The scene was eerily similar to one last weekend against Washington St. when Cole was cruising, but ran into seventh inning trouble and by the time Savage pulled him, the Bruins were behind.
Savage brought Gavin Brooks in to replace Cole and Brooks got UCLA out of the seventh inning still tied, 3-3. While the Stanford offense had just woken up, the UCLA offense had gone to sleep. After a pair of fifth inning singles, the Bruins tallied only one hit the rest of the way.
Brooks made it out of the eighth and ninth unscathed, but ran into trouble in the tenth. Brooks hit the leadoff batter and walked the second batter to put runners on first and second with nobody out. That ended Brooks' day and Matt Grace came in to try to keep the Bruins alive. It wasn't to be though as Stanford executed a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third before a ground ball brought home the winning run.
Haerther led the Bruins at the plate with a 2-5 effort that included a home run, two RBI and a run. Niko Gallego continued his hot hitting with a 2-4 game, while Dunlap and Decker each scored a run. Cole's line finished with three runs, seven hits and seven strikeouts in 7.1 innings of work.
The Bruins and Cardinal will resume their series tomorrow at 5:30 pm PDT with two freshmen on the mound. Trevor Bauer will take the hill for UCLA against Stanford's Jordan Pires in the second game of the three game set.