The crowd showed up, Fox 11 and NBC 4 showed up and the Bruins' pitchers put on a show. In front of 756 fans, the largest midweek crowd in recent memory, #6 UCLA delivered with a 2-1 win over Pepperdine to improve its record to 21-0. With their perfect record intact, the Bruins will now enter Pac-10 play, beginning Thursday versus Stanford, with a wealth of confidence and momentum.
Garett Claypool got the start for the Bruins and the senior continued a season of strong pitching with 6.2 innings of one run (unearned) ball on two hits to go along with nine strikeouts. The right-hander picked up the win to improve to 3-0 on the year and he lowered his ERA once again, this time all the way down to 1.23. After Claypool exited, Matt Grace threw a perfect inning, then Erik Goeddel retired the only batter he face before handing the ball to Dan Klein, who threw a dominating ninth inning to pick up his fifth save of the year.
The UCLA hitters totaled just five hits and nobody had more than one, but it was enough to pick up the win. Dean Espy went 1-3 with a run scored and Cody Regis went 1-3 with a RBI. Blair Dunlap went hitless in the contest, ending his hit streak at 15 games.
The Bruins had a chance to get on the board in the first when Niko Gallego singled and stole second with two outs, but he was stranded in scoring position to end the thread. The offense wouldn't muster another baserunner until the fifth inning, when they finally tallied.
Espy got the fifth inning going with a double to right center and after Cody Keefer walked, Trevor Brown (once again subbing for the banged up Steve Rodriguez) put down a sacrifice bunt. The intended sacrifice was left by the Pepperdine third baseman to go foul, but the ball kept rolling and hit the third base bag for a single. Chris Giovinazzo then hit what looked to be a tailor made double play ball that the shortstop fielded a step behind second base, but Giovinazzo flew down the line to beat the throw, while Espy came home to score. Regis then executed a perfect safety squeeze, scoring Keefer from third and giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
While the offense finally got something going, Claypool was cruising. The pitcher went into the seventh inning having allowed just one hit, but a lead off walk got him in some trouble. After getting the next batter to fly out to right, Claypool allowed a single to left. After fielding the ball in left though, Keefer slipped, which allowed each runner to move up 90 feet on the error. A sacrifice fly followed, cutting the UCLA lead to 2-1 and bringing an end to Claypool's day. The left-handed Grace entered to face a left-handed batter and got a key strikeout to end the inning with the tying run in scoring position.
After Grace got the first two outs of the eighth, Goeddel got the final out of the inning to give Klein a chance at the save. Klein got the first batter of the ninth inning staring at strike three on a dirty curveball. The next batter met the same fate, but on a change-up. The final batter Klein got for strike three swinging at a low curveball for yet another UCLA win.
With the win, the Bruins' improved their record in one-run games to 4-0 on the year, one season after going 2-14 in such games. UCLA will look to carry that momentum into their first Pac-10 series of the year this Thursday (6 pm PST). Friday (6 pm PST) and Saturday (2 pm PST) at Jackie Robinson Stadium versus Stanford.