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UCLA Edged By Arizona, 5-4, In Series Opener

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Jeff Gelalich had a stellar game, but it wasn't enough to push UCLA past Arizona (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Jeff Gelalich had a stellar game, but it wasn't enough to push UCLA past Arizona (Photo Credit: Official Site)

For Arizona to win series' they almost need to win on Friday night. Kurt Heyer is their ace and miles better than any of their other pitchers so he needs to get the W on Friday and on this Friday night, he did. The Arizona offense didn't get the seven-plus runs per game they average, but they did enough to get the 5-4 win over Gerrit Cole and UCLA thanks to some stellar defense that saw two Bruins thrown out at the plate in one inning. With the loss, UCLA dropped to 17-12 overall and 7-3 in the Pac-10, second place behind 6-1 Oregon St.

Cole punched out 11 on Friday night and wasn't bad, but he was hit harder than normal when the ball was hit and surrendered what proved to be the killer three-run homer. He continued to do an excellent job of pitching deep into games, tossing eight innings, but five runs on nine hits won't please the standout junior. Zack Weiss relieved Cole and di his job with a perfect ninth, but by then the Wildcats already had the five they needed to get the series opener.

UCLA isn't the first team that couldn't get to Kurt Heyer and they won't be the last. Going up against one of the Pac-10's best the Bruins did a pretty good job of getting a few runs, but their missed opportunities late are what they will be left wondering "what if" about. Jeff Gelalich was the star with a 2-3 effort that saw him homer once, double once, score once and drive in three of UCLA's four runs. Unfortunately for the sophomore, it wasn't enough to push the Bruins over the Wildcats.

Neither UCLA nor Arizona managed a base runner until the Wildcats picked up a lead off single in the third after an out, they added a double to put men on second and third. A slow roller to third followed and it was not hit hard enough for Cody Regis to make a play at the plate so he had to take the out at first while the game's first run came in. A double to right followed and Arizona had themselves a two run lead.

That lead would not last long though. Trevor Brown blooped a single into left for the Bruins first knock to start the bottom half of the third and Steve Rodriguez followed by battling back from 0-2 down in the count to draw a walk. After a sacrifice bunt moved each ahead 90 feet, Gelalich laced a double to right. The ball went all the way to the wall so Brown and Rodriguez scored easily to tie the game and Gelalich was on at second as the go-ahead run. The Bruins almost cashed in that run quickly when Beau Amaral singled to center, but Gelalich was thrown out trying to score. Espy followed with a single of his own and Amaral, who took second on the play at the plate before, came in to score from second to put UCLA up 3-2. That lead was almost 4-2, but the Bruins had another man thrown out at the plate. Espy was thrown out trying to score from first on Regis' double so the Bruins had to be content with 3-2.

After giving up two in the third, Cole came out in the fourth looking determined to make a point and he did. The junior struck out all three batters he faced to move into second on UCLA's all-time strike out list, but the Wildcats got to him the following inning. Consecutive fifth inning singles by Arizona was followed by a drive to left that barely got over the glove of a leaping Cody Keefer and over the wall for a three-run home run that made it a 5-3 ballgame.

Gelalich was at it again in the bottom half of the inning. The sophomore hooked a ball down the right field line and just barely inside the foul pole for a solo home run. It was Gelalich's first home run of the season and cut the Arizona lead to just one run at 5-4.

The Wildcats almost responded right way in the sixth inning when consecutive one-out singles put men on the corners with nobody out. Arizona tried to pull a squeeze on the Bruins and they got the bunt down, but Cole fielded and flipped to Rodriguez, who was able to apply the tag at the plate to get out of the inning unscathed.

UCLA's problem was that they couldn't get anything going against Heyer, although they would hardly be the first team to have that problem this season. In the eighth, the Bruins finally got a chance. Brenton Allen led off the fram with a pinch hit walk and Adrian Williams pinch ran for him after. A sacrifice bunt moved Williams to second and that was the end of Heyer's day as the Wildcats made a move for their closer. That was all for the Bruins though as Amaral and Espy both struck out swinging to end the inning with Williams still on second.

Weiss tossed a perfect ninth and gave the Bruin offense one more chance, but they couldn't convert. A chopper to third was enough for Chris Giovinazzo to pick up a one-out infield single, but the Bruins couldn't get him in. Giovinazzo stole second on a 2-2 count with two outs to give UCLA a little more hope, but a strike out left him at second and the Bruins in need of a big start from Trevor Bauer on Saturday to even the seres.