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UCLA Splits Sunday Doubleheader To Salvage Weekend

Dean Espy's four RBI in game two of Sunday's doubleheader were part of a 12 run, 22 hit outburst that helped salvage a weekend that started awfully with two bad losses in which UCLA couldn't muster up any offense (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Dean Espy's four RBI in game two of Sunday's doubleheader were part of a 12 run, 22 hit outburst that helped salvage a weekend that started awfully with two bad losses in which UCLA couldn't muster up any offense (Photo Credit: Official Site)

Coming into 2011 most didn't think the Bruins could be swept in a series. After all, who was going to beat both Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer in a single weekend? UCLA could be beat, but it would likely come with a split of the first two games and then a win in the third game of the series to wrap it up. Amazingly though, Cole and Bauer were beat this weekend and the Bruins found themselves in a two games to none hole in their series against San Jose St. before coming back to win the series finale and salvage the weekend.

Rain forced Friday's series opener to be suspended and was resumed Sunday at noon with Sunday's regularly scheduled game played right after. The Bruins lost Saturday's game to drop the opening game of the series, but got to start Friday's resumed game leading 1-0 after an inning. That lead went to 2-0, but an off sixth inning by Cole, helped along by a key error, led the right-hander to give up five runs, three earned, in 5.1 innings. The junior absorbed the loss for the game, dropping him to 1-1 on the year, as the Spartans ran away from the Bruins late for a 8-3 win.

The second game of the day went a lot better for UCLA. They had scored the first run in each of the series' first two games, but it didn't help them get on the smiling side of the scoreboard. In the series finale the Bruins also scored first, but they followed that up by scoring second, third, fourth and fifth as well. By the end of the game Adam Plutko had thrown seven innings of one run ball to improve to 2-0 on the season and UCLA had totaled 22 hits in a 12-2 whitewashing of the Spartans. San Jose St. definitely got the best of the weekend to improve to 6-1, but the Bruins did at least get something out of it and now sit at 5-2 with a trip to San Diego St. on Tuesday for a midweek game looming.

The first game of the day began with UCLA leading 1-0. Beau Amaral's lead off homer in the first inning on Friday gave the Bruins their edge and they resumed the game in the second inning with that lead intact. In the third inning, UCLA stretched that lead some more with Amaral at the heart of it again. The sophomore led off the inning with a base hit and then stole second. A deep fly out to center allowed Amaral to tag up and take third so when Cody Regis lifted one for an out to left field Amaral was able to tag again and score for a 2-0 UCLA lead.

Cole threw nine pitches to get out of the first inning on Friday and came back on Sunday to continue the game he started two days earlier. The junior has no problems in the early going, rolling through the opening innings without issue and went to the sixth without having allowed a Spartan to reach second base.

The sixth inning didn't go so well though. A hit by pitch started the inning and a bunt single put two men on before Cole shot himself in the foot. Cole couldn't handle a sacrifice bunt so all Spartans moved on 90 feet to load the bases with none out. Cole battled to get a big strike out for the first out of the inning, but a single through the left side scored a pair and the game was knotted at twos. A single loaded up the bases again and then Cole lost it, hitting a batter and walking one to force a pair of runs in for a 4-2 Spartan lead. Cole was pulled at that point in favor of Scott Griggs, but a sacrifice fly added another run to the Spartan score and the Bruins trailed 5-2 after six innings.

Things didn't go much better for the Bruins in the seventh inning as two walks to start the inning was just the beginning of another bad inning. UCLA got bailed out later in the inning when a base runner attempting to tag up left early and was called out, but by the end of the frame two more runners had scored.

UCLA finally got another run, but that came in the ninth inning after the Spartans had added another of their own in the top half of the inning. Pat Valaika's RBI single didn't do much to change the game and it finished off the scoring in a 8-3 UCLA loss.

The Bruins didn't have much time to sulk though as they had to turn their attention to getting the series finale and not getting swept. From the get-go, UCLA showed the urgency they needed to avoid the sweep and a bit of a shakeup in the lineup woke up the bats. A lead off walk by Marc Navarro in the first got the Bruins going and it was followed by a Jeff Gelalich single. The pair showed good base running with one out when each got fantastic jumps to easily pull off the double steal. With the two at second and third Dean Espy hit a ball back up the middle to score them both and put UCLA up 2-0.

The third inning got off to a great start to get the Bruin offense going again. A lead off double by Amaral got the team started this time around and after Espy walked and Cody Keefer bunted for a single UCLA had the bases loaded. Kevin Williams got a good piece of a 2-0 pitch, but just not enough of it as it settled into the centerfielder's glove in deep center. Even so, the ball was deep enough for Amaral to tag and score and Espy and Keefer to move up 90 feet. A hard single to right field by Regis followed to score Espy and Keefer and after three innings UCLA was leading 5-0.

A double and walk to start the San Jose St. fourth put the Bruins in a bit of a bind, but Plutko did enough to keep the Bruins in front. A sacrifice bunt moved each runner up a base and a ground out got the Spartans on the scoreboard down 5-1, but Plutko limited the damage to that one run.

UCLA's fourth inning was like their third as they put a three spot up on the scoreboard. Singles by Gelalich and Amaral put two men on base and once again the Bruins pulled off a double steal. With men at second and third, Keefer singled to left to score Gelalich for a 6-1 UCLA lead. A ground out by Williams scored Amaral for a 7-1 Bruin lead and that lead went to 8-1 a batter later when Regis came through again for a RBI single.

Like the third and fourth innings, the fifth inning was a three run inning for the Bruins. After a double by Gelalich and single by Amaral, Espy roped a one-out double to right to score them both and stretch the Bruins' lead to 10-1. A single by Keefer moved Espy to third and Williams was there again to pick up a RBI with a sacrifice fly for a 11-1 advantage.

The sixth inning ended UCLA's run of three run innings, but they did scratch out a run. Adrian Williams got his first start of the season in the game and led off the frame with a single so when Chris Giovinazzo singled later in the inning he came around to score.

Leading 12-1, San Jose St.'s eighth inning run off of Zack Weiss didn't matter much and after a perfect ninth inning by Nick Vander Tuig, UCLA was content to take their 12-2 win following two games that went in no way like they expected.

The first game on Sunday didn't have many hitting highlights with the team totaling just five hits, but with 22 hits in the second game there were plenty of guys worth mentioning. Espy led the way with a 2-5 outing in which he drove in four runs and scored a pair himself. Gelalich, Amaral and Regis all had three hits and Gelalich and Amaral had three runs scored while Regis drove three in. Keefer chipped in with three hits, two runs and a RBI and Kevin Williams went hitless, but picked up three RBI.