The man who has racked up an incredible number of strikeouts, well maybe he doesn't need them all. For just the second time all season Trevor Bauer failed to strikeout at least 10 batters, but he was still plenty good. He shut down a good Cal offense and got just enough early game run support to lead UCLA to a 2-1 win over the Golden Bears. The win evens the series at a game apiece and leaves the Bruins 30-20 overall and 15-8 in the Pac-10, two games out of first place.
Dominant performances are nothing new for Bauer. One of the top candidates for National Pitcher of the Year, Bauer has been sensational all season, but especially so during a stretch of seven consecutive complete games. The junior went nine innings yet again, allowing just one run on five hits and walking one. He didn't have his best stuff and with just eight strikeouts it showed, but he was able to put the Bears away anyways in front of 1,379 fans at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
A day after picking up just three hits in a shutout loss, the UCLA offense was hardly mighty. They tallied just six hits, but it was enough for two runs and with Bauer on the mound, two runs will do. Cody Regis led the way with a hit and a RBI for the Bruins, while Jeff Gelalich and Dean Espy each walked and scored a run. The bottom of the order got the job done as the seven through nine hitters each picked up a hit, including Pat Valaika and Trevor Brown, who each picked up a hit and walked once. That was it for the Bruins, although with a W on the scoreboard, there won't be a ton of complaints.
On Friday night it was a Cal first inning run that put them ahead and kept them ahead. On Saturday, UCLA struck in the first, although they should have had more. Gelalich started the frame by reaching on an error and Beau Amaral followed with a single. Then Espy was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out, but Cody Keefer hit into a double play. While it did score Gelalich from third to put the Bruins ahead 1-0, UCLA was left to wonder what could have been if the double play never happened.
The Bruins added to their lead in the third and it started with a one-out Espy walk. It was followed by a Keefer double that put men at second and third so when Regis hit one in the air to centerfield, Espy was able to easily tag and score for a 2-0 Bruin lead.
Another double play hurt the Bruins in the fourth. The inning started with a single, but followed with a double play. After the double play, Brown singled and Gelalich was hit by a pitch, but UCLA couldn't score the run and the double play earlier in the inning loomed large.
It loomed especially large in the top of the fifth inning when Bauer fell behind 2-0 to the leadoff hitter. He was forced to come in with a good pitch and paid for it when it was deposited over the fence in left for a home run that cut the Bruins' lead to 2-1.
A two-out double in the seventh gave Cal a chance to even the ballgame, but Bauer got a strikeout looking on a full count to end the frame. A single, a stolen base and a wild pitch put a man on third with two outs again in the eighth, but once again Bauer got the out he needed to end the frame.
The ninth inning made things interesting when the Bears got a leadoff single. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second, but Bauer got the next guy with three straight curveballs, the last one on a 3-2 count to get a key strikeout against the man who hit the home run off his earlier. The game ended when Espy booted a ball at first, but straight to Brown, who threw to Bauer covering first for the final out.
The close play and some talk throughout the game stirred up some bad blood and both teams came out of the dugout after the game with less than good intentions, but the coaches quickly separated everyone. All it did was set up a tantalizing Sunday game to decide the series between two teams playing with a whole bunch of intensity and then some.