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UCLA Downs Maryland, 6-5, For First Win of Season

Jeff Gelalich helped the UCLA offense turn it around on Saturday (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Jeff Gelalich helped the UCLA offense turn it around on Saturday (Photo Credit: Official Site)

Saturday's game at Jackie Robinson was another one-run contest, but it was almost the exact opposite kind of game for UCLA. The starting pitching was sterling on Friday, but it wasn't so great on Saturday. The offense was almost non-existant on Friday, but it pounded out some hits on Saturday. The bullpen couldn't hold the lead on Friday, but it slammed the door on Saturday. As a result, the game finished very differently as the Bruins downed Maryland, 6-5, to pick up their first win of the season.

Cody Keefer led the way for the Bruins at the dish with three hits, a walk, a RBI and a run, while Beau Amaral also had a RBI and run to go along with his two hits and a stolen base. Cody Regis chipped in with a pair of RBI on a hit and a walk and Jeff Gelalich scored a pair on a hit and walk as part of a 10-hit effort for UCLA.

On the mound, Nick Vander Tuig looked every bit the part of a talented pitcher who hadn't started a game in three years. He started strong and looked to be cruising through four innings, but he ran into fifth inning trouble and by the time he exited he had allowed five runs, four earned, in five-plus innings of work. The Bruin bullpen backed Vander Tuig up, though, hurling four hitless innings to get Vander Tuig the win. Ryan Deeter tossed 1.1 innings, Grant Watson was perfect against the five batters he faced and Scott Griggs bounced back from Friday's blown save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his first save of the year.

UCLA jumped on the Terrapins from the start by pounding out single. Amaral led off the game with a single to left and Gelalich followed it up with a single of his own so when Keefer pulled one through the right side, Amaral was able to come around to score the game's opening run. Gelalich was also able to take third on Keefer's base hit so when Regis lifted on to center, Gelalich was able to tag and score to make it 2-0 Bruins in the first.

After two quick and easy innings, Vander Tuig ran into his first jam in the third when a single, error by Pat Valaika and hit by pitch loaded up the bases with one out. A sacrifice fly to center scored the Terps' first run of the game, but Vander Tuig was able to get the next batter swinging to end the inning with the Bruins still ahead.

Before Maryland could even get comfortable down a run, UCLA had stretched their lead back out. Once again, it was the top of the order that got the Bruins going, this time in the bottom of the third. Gelalich walked and Keefer singled to put two on before Regis roped a single up the middle to score Gelalich. After a sacrifice bunt by Valaika moved the runners to second and third, Tyler Heineman hit a grounder to shortstop that scored Keefer and UCLA was up 4-1.

An inning later, UCLA was back on the board. Brenton Allen got hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and after a Kevin Williams single, Amaral picked up a RBI with a single through that right side that scored Allen and it was a 5-1 ballgame.

Through four innings, Vander Tuig hadn't had much trouble, but the fifth proved to be a boatload of trouble for the sophomore. Consecutive singles led off the fifth for the Terps before the Bruins got a break when Maryland popped up an attempted sacrifice bunt. Vander Tuig put himself in more trouble when he walked the next batter, though, so the bases were loaded and after a sacrifice fly cut the Bruins' lead to 5-2, Maryland evened things up at 5-5 with a towering three-run home run to right-center.

It was a whole new game when the Bruins came to the plate in the fifth, but the bottom of the order worked quickly to put UCLA back on top. Heineman doubled to left with one out and Trevor Brown followed it up with a single so when a pitch in the dirt squirted away from the catcher, Heineman was able to hustle down from third to put the Bruins back in front, 6-5.

After a walk and single started the Maryland sixth, Vander Tuig got the hook and Deeter came in. He quickly put out any fire by inducing a 4-6-3 double play then getting a lazy fly ball to right field and the Bruins lead was intact.

UCLA had a chance to add to their lead in the bottom of the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out, but Valaika struck out and Heineman grounded out to end the frame.

A lead off walk by Deeter gave the Terps hope in the seventh and a sacrifice bunt put the tying run in scoring position, but Watson came in to get consecutive fly outs and end the inning. Watson then struck out a pair in a perfect eighth inning and with a one-run lead heading to the ninth inning for the second straight night, head coach John Savage turned to Griggs once again.

The right-hander couldn't find the plate on Friday night, giving up the tying and winning runs in the ninth on walks and hit by pitches, but none of that was a problem for him on Saturday. Griggs made a statement against he first batter he faced by striking him out on three pitches, then a couple of simple ground balls later the save was in the books and UCLA were 6-5 winners.

Now UCLA looks to Sunday to pick up the series win and make Friday's loss just a little blip on the radar. They will turn to Zack Weiss to pick up the series for them against Maryland's Brett Harman in an early 10 am PT start at Jackie Robinson Stadium.