This weekend was easily the toughest one UCLA has had all year, but they managed to come out the other end with their perfect record intact. After hanging on to beat Cal Poly on Thursday, then needing a late comeback to win on Friday, the Bruins needed a great jumping grab by Dean Espy at first base to put Cal Poly away on Saturday, 6-4. While the weekend may have been a tough one and the Bruins may not have played their best, they still concluded their non-conference weekend schedule with a perfect 20-0 record, further extending a school-record win streak.
Rob Rasmussen got into some trouble early on in his start and his four walks are of some concern, but the junior threw 5.2 innings of four hit, two run ball with nine strikeouts to improve to 3-0 on the season. Erik Goeddel relieved Rasmussen and despite getting a key out to the first batter he faced, did not have one of his better appearances, allowing two runs in 2.1 innings. With Dan Klein having pitched in each of the last two games, Matt Grace got the opportunity to pick up his first save of the year and the junior did just that with a 1-2-3 ninth.
As has become a common theme this season, Tyler Rahmatulla led the UCLA offense. The sophomore second baseman did it was a 3-4 effort today and he also came around to score once. Brett Krill went 2-5 in the contest with a run and RBI, while Cody Regis chipped in with a pair of RBI. Blair Dunlap continued his hot hitting with a 2-5 effort to extend his hit streak to 15 games.
Rasmussen was blowing Cal Poly hitters away in the early going for his outs, but in between outs, the Mustangs were able to draw walks and come up with key hits. Five Mustangs were sat down on strikes in the first two innings, but in both the first and second innings, a Mustang that was walked came around to score on a double to give Cal Poly a 2-0 edge.
The 2-0 lead lasted all of a half inning thanks to a two-out Bruin rally in the bottom half of the second. After the first two batters of the inning were retired, Niko Gallego and Steve Rodriguez each doubled to bring one run across. Dunlap followed that up with a single to center, scoring Rodriguez and tying the game at two apiece.
Just one inning later, UCLA grabbed a lead that they would never relinquish. Again, the run scoring came with two out and started when Krill singled to right with two men down. The junior proceeded to steal second so when Regis ripped a double to right, Krill came across to score for a 3-2 UCLA lead.
The Bruins added one more to that lead the next inning, again with two out. One out singles by Beau Amaral and Rahmatulla put two men on and Cody Keefer walked with two out to loaded the bases. Krill then singled to shortstop, bringing Amaral across for another UCLA run.
It did not take two outs for the Bruins to score in the sixth. Rahmarulla led off the inning with a double to the warning track in left center and Justin Uribe rolled one back up the middle and through the infield for a single to score Rahmatulla from second. An attempted pick off to first got away and allowed Uribe to take second, then a botched pick off attempt at second that sent the ball into the outfield moved Uribe forward 90 more feet. With one out, Regis squared around and laid down a perfect squeeze bunt towards first, allowing Uribe to score easily for a 6-2 UCLA advantage.
The Mustangs refused to go away and it was Goeddel who took the hits. Goeddel entered with runners at second and third and two outs in the sixth and came through with a big strikeout on a 3-2 count. An RBI single in the seventh got to Goeddel for run number one though and then a home run to deep left center tagged Goeddel with his second run allowed.
The UCLA lead was cut to 6-4 and the task of closing out the game was left to Grace, a left-hander who hadn't been asked to close a game this season. The lead off man hit a high chopper to short and by the time the ball came down, there was no chance to get him out. Grace got the next batter on a strikeout for the inning's second out and the batter who followed ripped a liner that looked bound for extra bases down the right field like. The first baseman, Espy, leaped and snared the line drive though before tagging the runner at first for the double play and bringing and end to the game.
The Bruins will host struggling Pepperdine on Tuesday at Jackie Robinson Stadium before opening Pac-10 play on Thursday with Stanford in town. Garett Claypool will be on the mound for UCLA versus the Waves, bringing a 2-0 record and 1.59 ERA with him. First pitch is scheduled for 6 pm PST.