Ever since getting off to a blistering 22-0 start, UCLA has been very up and down, going just 8-10 in their next 18. That changed when the Bruins rolled off four straight a week ago, finishing it off with a sweep on the road versus a hot Washington team. The Bruins had been looking to continue that momentum on Tuesday night versus UC Irvine in advance of the always-heated crosstown series versus USC this weekend, but an inability to come through with the bats kept that from happening. Instead, UCLA lost on the road to the Anteaters, 2-1, with just four hits to their name, two errors and a contentious call in centerfield that led to Irvine's winning runs and the ejection of UCLA head coach John Savage.
He may have taken the loss, but Garett Claypool was still strong on the mound for the Bruins yet again. The senior went six innings and allowed just two runs, but saw his record drop to 7-2 anyways. Despite the effective results, Claypool did struggle some with his command, throwing 105 pitches in just six innings, but such criticisms are relative to the incredible starts Claypool has accumulated in his senior season. Matt Drummond retired one batter in relief of Claypool and Erik Goeddel allowed just one to reach base in 1.2 innings.
With just four hits on the evening, there were very few offensive highlights for the Bruins. Beau Amaral's first inning base hit extended his hit streak to 13 games and Brett Krill, Niko Gallego and Trevor Brown all had a hit. Tyler Rahmatulla had UCLA's only RBI and Blair Dunlap came home to score the lone run.
Things got off to a dandy of a start for UCLA. After starting the game off with a walk, Dunlap went all the way to third on Amaral's single so a simple ground out to shortstop was able to score him.
After the first inning, the Bruins generated very little offensively and it was the Anteaters who threatened next. In the fifth, a single and walk put two men on for Irvine with two out. Claypool struggled with his command and fell behind to the next batter, 3-1, and he was made to pay for it. A double to left center scored both runners and put the Anteaters ahead, 2-1.
The controversy in the inning came on the single, one that led off the bottom of the fifth. Amaral, the center fielder, came charging in a line drive and the freshman dove for the ball. After sliding to a stop, Amaral held the ball up claiming a catch, but the umpire ruled him to have trapped it. Savage argued on behalf of Amaral, but to no avail. He continued to argue while in the dugout and after the double scored a run for the Anteaters, he went on the field to continue arguing his case, resulting in his ejection.
The closest the Bruins came to scoring was in the seventh inning when they had a man on second with one out, but a pop up and ground out ended that threat.
Trailing by a run with three outs left, the Bruins had a ninth inning that characterized their struggles with the bats all game long as all three batters swung and missed at strike three to end the game.
UCLA will return to action this weekend when they host USC in a three-game Pac-10 series at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Game one is Friday night at 6 pm PDT with game two following on Saturday at 2 pm PDT and the finale on Sunday at 1 pm PDT.