Last week, UCLA lost the series opener to Oregon St.and were facing the task of winning two straight to take the Pac-10 series. This week, same state, same task. On Friday night, UCLA lost the series opener at home to the Oregon Ducks, 5-4, and now must take the series' final two games if they are to win their third consecutive conference series. With the loss, the Bruins fell to 26-4 on the year and 4-3 in the Pac-10, a game and a half behind the leaders, Arizona St.
Absorbing the loss for UCLA was Gerrit Cole, who picked up his first loss of the season and is now 6-1. The sophomore struggled from the get-go and only lasted five innings before getting the hook. In those five innings, the right-hander surrendered five runs and struck out five, but he did walk four. The Bruins bullpen was sharp, as four pitchers combined to throw four scoreless innings, but the damage was done before they get their chance.
Against a pitcher who entered the game with a 2.16 ERA, the Bruins did a solid job, even if it wasn't great. Thanks to 2-5 performances from Dean Espy and Blair Dunlap with a two-run homer each, UCLA was able to put up four runs in 4.2 innings on Oregon's excellent starter. Scott McGough, who entered in relief for the Ducks, was too good and shut the Bruins down the rest of the way, though, to pick up the win.
The Ducks got their offense going in the second inning when they tallied four hits and two runs. Two of the Ducks' four first inning hits were the key as they each drove in a run to put Oregon up 2-0.
That 2-0 lead became a 3-0 lead after Oregon hit a lead off homer in the third and yet another RBI single made it a 4-0 ballgame.
It wasn't until the bottom of the third that UCLA hit the ball out of the infield. Luckily for them, that first ball out of the infield was a home run to left by Dunlap and it followed a walk by Steve Rodriguez so the two-run jack cut the Oregon lead to 4-2.
Cole's final inning was the fifth and at the end of the frame might have been when Cole did his best pitching. After allowed the Ducks to load the bases with nobody out, but Cole worked well to get out of the inning with just once across.
In the bottom half of the inning, it was Espy who hit his two-run homer, cutting the Oregon lead to 5-4 this time. Later in the inning, a pair of hit batsmen put two on with two out, but the Bruins couldn't cash it in.
A one-out double by Dunlap in the sixth presented UCLA with their last good chance to even the game, but it was not to be and the Bruins went away series opening losers.
The Bruins and the Ducks will resume their Pac-10 set on Saturday at 2 pm PST. Trevor Bauer (5-1, 1.95 ERA) will take to the hill for UCLA, opposite Oregon's Justin LaTempa (2-2, 3.44 ERA). Another large crowd is expected and it could possibly be the Bruins' fifth consecutive home crowd of over 1,000.