"Hey guys, I'm not too bad either." A day after Gerrit Cole dominated in his start at the Whataburger Classic, striking out 15, Trevor Bauer made sure he wasn't forgotten with an equally dominant performance of his own. The sophomore went 8+ innings, allowed just two runs on three hits and struck out 15 batters of his own to pick up his third win in as many starts this season. The Bruins scored one early, but couldn't stretch their lead until late and had to hold on with the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning to take down Mississippi St., 5-2, on Saturday in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Blair Dunlap, who went 2-4 with a pair of runs scored in the game, got things going in the first inning for the designated home team, UCLA. The senior singled with one out and took second when Tyler Rahmatulla walked. After a wild pitch advanced them both 90 feet, Cody Keefer singled to plate Dunlap and put UCLA ahead, 1-0.
Bauer came out firing, striking out the first four batters he faced and five of the first six. The right-hander struck out at least two in six of his eight innings pitched. All nine Bulldogs who had at least two at-bats in the game were sat down on strikes at least once.
It was a good thing that Bauer was on his game because the UCLA offense was stifled. After the Bruins scored in the first, Mississippi St. starting pitcher Chris Stratton held UCLA to the minimum three batters in three of the next four innings. It wasn't until the sixth inning that the Bruins finally got a rally going again, but even that took some help from the Bulldogs.
UCLA loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning on an error, hit by pitch and walk, hardly the offense of champions. While ugly, the UCLA offense proved to be effective in the inning and Brett Krill registered the key hit in the inning when he singled through the left side to plate two of the men on base. After Krill took second on the throw home, UCLA had runners at second and third. A wild pitch scored one more run and a fielder's choice plated Krill to cap the scoring in the inning for a 5-0 UCLA advantage. In total, the Bruins scored four runs in the sixth inning on one hit, two errors, two hit by pitches and a walk.
With a bit more of a cushion, Bauer kept cruising until he got to the ninth. Bauer walked the lead off man and after the runner stole second, a double plated him. With the lead cut to 5-1 and a runner on second, Bauer was pulled in favor of the closer, Dan Klein. Klein got the first batter he faced to ground out, but the next hitter singled to trim the Bruins' lead to 5-2. After a strikeout, Klein walked a batter to put two runners on and bring the tying run to the plate. With the pressure on, Klein got the batter to ground out to third and the Bruins were 5-2 winners.
The Bruins currently sit at 12-0 on the season with their biggest test of the campaign facing them on Sunday morning. UCLA will take on a fellow top 20 team, Oklahoma at 9 am PST to close out their weekend at the Whataburger Classic. The Sooners are 15-1 on the year and winners of 10 straight after defeating Mississippi St. and Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the last two days, just as UCLA did. Rob Rasmussen (0-0, 3.38 ERA) will be on the mound for the Bruins and Oklahoma will counter with freshman left-hander, Ryan Gibson (2-0, 3.07 ERA.