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Balanced Offensive Effort Fuels UCLA's 5-3 Win Over Washington

Beau Amaral picked up a pair of hits in a balanced offensive effort for UCLA (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Beau Amaral picked up a pair of hits in a balanced offensive effort for UCLA (Photo Credit: Official Site)

It wasn't the most prolific of offense performances and the Bruins will certainly rue some missed opportunities, but it was a well-balanced effort that did enough to come back from an early deficit to claim a Pac-10 series. UCLA fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, but got a little bit from all parts of the lineup to complete the comeback. The first three hitters in the UCLA lineup had four hits, the middle three had three hits and the bottom three had three hits to lead a solid Bruins' effort in their 5-3 win over Washington at Jackie Robinson Stadium that improved the UCLA record to 13-9 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-10.

When Trevor Bauer does have problems, they usually come early on in the game. If the right-hander can get past the first inning or two unscathed, he usually finds his groove and becomes a nightmare for opposing hitters. OnSaturday, Bauer couldn't get through that first inning without getting dinged up, but he settled down. Bauer did enough to pick up the win to boost his record to 5-1 this season, but also earn his 26th career win that moves him to second on the UCLA all-time list. Bauer surrendered three runs on six hits in eight innings and struck out 10, the sixth time in seven starts this season that UCLA's all-time strike out leader has struck out double figure batters. Nick Vander Tuig was right behind him to wrap things up too, tossing a scoreless ninth to earn his third save on the season.

UCLA's two hottest hitters led the Bruins on Saturday. Cody Keefer racked up three hits on Friday night and followed it up with a 2-4 effort on Saturday with a run scored. Beau Amaral has also been hitting the ball well of late and went 2-3 on the day with a run scored for himself. Trevor Brown did a little bit of everything in picking up a hit, a run and RBI, but it was a freshman who led the way at the plate. Pat Valaika got the job done at the right times, picking up a pair of hits, scoring the tying run in the ballgame and later on, driving in the go-ahead runs for two RBI.

Things started out for Bauer the way seemingly everything has been going for him this season. He got a strike out to open the game, but a double and hit by pitch followed. If it wasn't clear at that point that he wasn't quite settled in, a wild pitch and then passed ball made it crystal clear as a Husky came in to score for a 1-0 Washington lead. A double scored another run and very early on the Huskies were already ahead 2-0.

UCLA had their own chance in the bottom half of the inning, but they stranded their runners. A one-out double by Amaral was followed by a single by Dean Espy. With men on the corners and only one out, Cody Regis came to the plate, but struck out and a failed bunt attempt followed to end the inning without a Bruin run.

Although the Bruins did get a run in the second inning, they were left hoping that their inability to take advantage of runners in scoring position didn't come back to haunt them. Consecutive doubles by Keefer and Brown to start the inning plated a run and put the tying run in scoring position with nobody out. A sacrifice bunt moved Brown to third, but the next two batters couldn't get the ball out of the infield and the Bruins had to settle for cutting their deficit to one in the inning.

An inning later, UCLA got some help in tying up the game. Amaral led off the frame with a single and a throwing error really pushed the Bruins' threat by putting men on the corners with nobody out. Regis followed by hitting into a double play, but it was enough to score Amaral from third and knot the game at two apiece.

The fifth inning saw both teams plate a run and this time it was UCLA helped out Washington with some poor defense. A double started the frame and the Huskies went with a sacrifice bunt to follow. On the bunt, Bauer made a throwing error and put men on the corners for the Huskies. Like the Bruins, the Huskies hit into a double play, but it was enough to score a run and give the visitors a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom half of the inning, Valaika started things off with a hard hit double down the left field line. Jeff Gelalich failed to get the first pitch bunt down, but atoned for that with a single that put men on the corners for the Bruins. UCLA didn't even have to do any work to tie the game up from there as a balk forced Valaika in from third to even the game at threes. Gelalich took second on the play and a sacrifice bunt would move him to third, but once again the Bruins couldn't cash the run in.

Again, the Bruins got help from the Huskies to push a run across, only this time it was two runs. A walk and hit by pitch put two men on with one out for the Bruins when the Huskies were charged with their second balk of the game that moved the runners to second and third. Then, Valaika came through again, this time singling to left and brining Brown and Steve Rodriguez in for a 5-3 Bruin advantage.

UCLA failed to convert on an opportunity again in the eighth inning, but it wouldn't matter because Vander Tuig shut the door in the ninth. The Bruins loaded up the bases with one out in the eighth, but the Huskies were able to turn a 5-2-3 double play to end the frame. All that did was turn the game over to Vander Tuig though, who ended the game on four batters in the ninth.