It took the #6 Bruins all of one inning to see that conference play is a whole new level of competitiveness and intensity. It then took them ten full innings to pick up their first Pac-10 win. After falling behind early, UCLA evened it up, fell behind again, took a lead, had the game tied up, fell behind once more, tied the game up once more and then won it in extra innings. Nothing came easy, but a 6-5 final score in UCLA's favor was all that matters as the Bruins took their opening Pac-10 game and improved their overall record to a still perfect 22-0.
Dean Espy played the role of hero with the game-winning single in the tenth inning to complete a 2-3 game. Tyler Rahmatulla once again led the Bruins at the plate, this time with a 2-3 effort with a home run, three runs scored, a RBI and stolen base for good measure. Justin Uribe was another Bruins who went 2-3 and Cody Regis drove in two runs on one of his two hits.
Just as was the case last week, Gerrit Cole struggled with his control, although he did cut his walk total from seven last week to six on Thursday night. Cole allowed three runs, only one of which was earned, in his 5.2 innings of work. Mitchel Beacom retired the only batter he faced, but Erik Goeddel did not fare as well, allowing two runs while retiring only one. Matt Grace tosses two scoreless innings and Dan Klein's 1.2 innings of three strikeout work earned him the win to improve to 2-0 on the year.
With two out in the top of the first and a runner at second, Stanford picked up a single that only brought home a run because of a throwing error by Rahmatulla.
Rahmatulla atoned for his error with a two-out solo home run to right field that evened the game at one apiece.
Stanford reclaimed the lead in the fourth with a two-out rally. After the first two batters of the inning flied out, a single and stolen base put a Cardinal in scoring position so the single that followed brought home the go-ahead run.
It took the Bruins until the fifth to even, but they didn't just even, they grabbed the lead. Beau Amaral singled with one out and Rahmatulla waled to put two on. A double steal moved each up 90 feet and when Uribe singled, Amaral came home to score. A two-out wild pitch brought Rahmatulla across for a 3-2 UCLA advantage.
The next half inning exposed some poor UCLA defense again. Consecutive errors with one out that would have ended the inning if both plays were made put runners at the corners with still just one out. A walk loaded the bases and a ground out was all it took at that point to score the tying run for the Cardinal.
In the seventh, the Cardinal turned a tie game into a two-run lead. A single and hit by pitch got the inning going so the sacrifice bunt that followed put two men in scoring position. Goeddel, who was on the mound to start the inning, was relieved by Grace at this point, but the left-hander allowed a single and fielders choice for a 5-3 Stanford lead.
The Bruins answered in the bottom half of the inning and it got started on walks by Rahmatulla and Chris Giovinazzo to lead off the inning. After a sacrifice bunt, UCLA had runners at second and third so when Regis singled to right, both runners came home to tie the game once again.
It looked as if the Cardinal were going to take the lead in the ninth, but the Bruins caught a break. When a Cardinal base runner tried to round third and score from second on a single, he slipped. By the time he got back up, the Bruins were able to get the ball to the plate and tag out the would-be go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, Niko Gallego picked up a lead off single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. A single by Blair Dunlap moved Gallego to third so when Espy was able to dump one into right field, the UCLA benched emptied to celebrate another UCLA victory, this time in walk-off fashion in their first extra inning game of the year.
The 22-0 Bruins will continue their series with the visiting Cardinal on Friday at 6 pm PST when the two teams square off yet again at Jackie Robinson Stadium. First pitch is at 6 pm PST and Trevor Bauer (5-0, 2.33 ERA) will be on the mound for UCLA versus a Stanford pitcher yet to be named, but will likely be either Brett Mooneyham (0-3, 6.85 ERA) or Jordan Pries (2-1, 3.44 ERA).