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UCLA Uses 8th Inning Rally To Improve To 19-0

Tyler Rahmatulla improved his batting average to .437 and came through with the game-winning double (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Tyler Rahmatulla improved his batting average to .437 and came through with the game-winning double (Photo Credit: Official Site)

UCLA was backed into a corner and as soon as they got there, they started throwing punches. It took until the eighth inning for one to land though. When a punch finally did land, it was Tyler Rahmatulla who threw it and it was all the Bruins needed to come from behind and defeat Cal Poly, 4-3. The win pushed the Bruins' record to 19-0 on the season, further extending the school record win streak to start a season and the school's longest win streak ever.

Trevor Bauer made one very bad pitch in the fourth inning and for a while, it looked like it might doom the Bruins. The late rally kept that pitch, which turned into a three-run home run, from dooming UCLA and Bauer's eight innings of three run ball with nine strikeouts was good enough for the win. The victory pushed the sophomore's record to 5-0 this season in five starts and 12-0 for his career as a starter. Dan Klein entered in the ninth inning and twelve pitches later walked away with his fourth save of the season.

The game-winning hit was one of two for Rahmatulla in the sophomore's 2-4, two RBI effort. Niko Gallego chipped in with a 2-4 game as well with a pair of runs scored and Blair Dunlap extended his hit streak to 14 games with a 2-4 effort of his own.

Dunlap started things quickly when he doubled down the left field line to get the game going in the bottom of the first. Rahmatulla was robbed for a RBI single two batter later when the Cal Poly second baseman made a diving stop and Dunlap was stranded at third.

Things got hairy in the fourth inning when Bauer walked the first batter of the inning. The next batter roped a double on the first pitch he saw to put Bauer in a jam and the next batter jumped on the first pitch he saw too. Unlike the last batter, this rope to left easily cleared the fence in left for a three-run home run to put the Mustangs ahead, 3-0.

Some fortune got the Bruins closer just a half inning later. Singles by Gallego and Brett Krill put two men on in the bottom of the fourth, but a high fly ball with two out looked as if it would put an end to the inning. Dean Espy hit a high fly to left center that went all the way to the warning track, but the Cal Poly centerfielder, who had settled under the ball, inexplicably dropped it. Gallego and Krill, running on contact with two out, came all the way around to score before Espy was thrown out trying to take third.

After the fourth, Bauer settled down and was never threatened again. The problem is that UCLA didn't threaten again either until the seventh inning. By going to the sixth still losing, the Bruins stepped into territory they had no experienced all year, having never trailed that late in a ballgame before.

Cody Keefer singled and took second on an error in the seventh and after Krill singled, the Bruins had runners on the corners with one out. A strike out on a full count and a pop up ended the threat and the Bruins went to the eighth still in search of a run.

With the Cal Poly starter pulled prior to the eighth, the Bruins were handed an opportunity against a new pitcher, having been stumped by Matt Leonard for seven innings. Dunlap welcomed the new pitcher to the game with a one-out single and Marc Navarro entered to pinch run for the senior. Gallego took a 3-2 pitch back up the middle and all of a sudden, the go-ahead run was on base. That is when Rahmatulla laced a double into the left center gap, bringing Navarro and Gallego in to score for a 4-3 lead.

From there, it was just a matter of Klein finishing it off. The closer got a fly out then consecutive strike outs looking to send the Bruins home happy.

While the Bruins were taking the second of three games versus Cal Poly, six other Pac-10 teams were starting conference play. Arizona St., the nation's only other undefeated team, defeated Cal, 12-5, Stanford fell at home to USC, 13-8, and Arizona took care of Oregon, 9-3.

UCLA and Cal Poly will wrap up their three-game set on Saturday at Jackie Robinson Stadium with first pitch set for 2 pm PST. Rob Rasmussen (2-0, 2.52 ERA) will be on the mound for the Bruins and the Mustangs will turn to DJ Mauldin (2-0, 9.45 ERA).