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Bruins Can't Close Out Cougars In Ninth And Fall 3-2

Mitchell Beacom and the UCLA bullpen couldn't close the door on the sweep (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Mitchell Beacom and the UCLA bullpen couldn't close the door on the sweep (Photo Credit: Official Site)

For two games and eight innings UCLA had done everything they needed to get a crucial road sweep at Washington St., but then the bottom of the ninth inning came around. What was a 2-0 Bruin lead was suddenly a 2-2 tie and not long after a 3-2 Wazzu win. Even with the loss the Bruins did their job in going on the road and grabbing a conference series win so there can't be any complaints about the weekend, but the manner in which they dropped the finale is sure to make them feel hard done. UCLA now sits at 16-11 on the season and 7-2 in the Pac-10, just behind 5-1 Oregon St.

Once again, Adam Plutko was sensational for the Bruins and still couldn't get the win. The freshman won his first two games of the season and hasn't picked up a win since despite carrying a 2.58 ERA in that span. That includes his eight inning start on Sunday, the longest of his career, in which he allowed just one run on two hits, struck out seven and walked one. Even so, Plutko couldn't get the win. Nick Vander Tuig and Mitchell Beacom each allowed a run on two hits in relief.

A day after scoring 10 runs, UCLA only managed two runs on Sunday, but they did pound out nine hits. Of course with nine hits and two runs there are plenty of men left on base and the Bruins had their share with eight stranded, six of which were in scoring position. Jeff Gelalich and Pat Valaika led the way with two hits each and Valaika also came in to score a run. Cody Regis picked up a hit to extend his hit streak to eight game and he also drove in a run, as did Dean Espy, who drove one in and scored one.

UCLA had their first opportunity to get on the board when Gelalich singled to start the game and was bunted over to second base. A pair of strike outs looking ended that threat though and it wasn't until the third that the Bruins threatened again.

Two out singles by Gelalich and Beau Amaral put men on the corners for UCLA, but they were just left there when a fly out to left ended the frame.

An inning later, Chris Giovinazzo singled with one out and stole second, but once again, runners were left out on the bases. A strike out was out number two and after a walk put a second man on base there was a passed ball that put two in scoring position, but a ground out to first left UCLA with nothing to show for it.

The Bruins finally got on the board in the fifth and it started with a lead off double by Valaika. After a strike out and ground out made it look like they might leave another man on base, Espy laced a double to left that scored Valaika for the all-important first run. The Bruins added one more though when Regis singled to right, allowing Espy to score for a 2-0 UCLA lead.

Singles by Brown and Valaika in the ninth inning gave UCLA the chance to stretch their lead, but they couldn't do it. A ground out ended the top half of the ninth and the Bruins had to go to the bottom of the ninth with just a two run lead.

That 2-0 lead would not stand up. UCLA had blown saves in two of their last three games, but those were in large part due to errors. There were no errors on Sunday though. Plutko had shut down the Cougars all day and through eight innings had allowed just one hit. He went back out to the mound in the ninth and on his 93rd pitch of the game allowed a lead off single. That was the end of Plutko's day as Vander Tuig came on in, but an infield single and sacrifice bunt put two men in scoring position. A single followed the sacrifice bunt and two men came in to score, tying the game at two apiece. The Bruins got an out when they threw out the would-be winning run trying to steal second, but a triple and single followed to make that point moot as the Cougars came back to win.