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UCLA Pulls Out A 7-6 Heartstopper In Georgia For Ninth Straight Win

Scott Griggs picked up a nervy four-out save (Photo Credit:<a href="" target="new"> Scott Wu</a>)
Scott Griggs picked up a nervy four-out save (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)

The game came down to the bottom of the ninth inning and the tying run was standing at third base. If nothing else, the thousands in attendance at Foley Field on Saturday afternoon could not complain about a lack of entertainment, even if it was a sloppy contest. UCLA and Georgia combined to make six errors on Saturday and it took until late in the game to get the offenses going, but eventually they came around and played an incredibly dramatic nine innings that saw the Bruins just barely edge the Bulldogs in Athens to claim the series and push their winning streak to nine games.

Yet again, Jeff Gelalich led the way at the plate for the Bruins. The junior went 4-for-4 on Friday and backed it up with a 3-for-4 afternoon on Saturday and he added a stolen base and run scored as he continued his hot hitting that has seen his batting average reach .500. Cody Keefer and Chris Keck also chipped in with a pair of hits apiece with both men scoring a run and Keefer also adding a RBI in the Bruins' nine-hit effort, but it was Tyler Heineman who had the game-winning hit with an eighth inning RBI single.

Nick Vander Tuig wasn't as good on the mound as he was a week ago, but he did enough to keep UCLA in the ballgame. The right-hander tossed six innings, allowing four runs on six hits, striking out three and also walking three to take the no decision. Grant Watson looking nothing like a freshman in his first real road game, striking out both batters he faced and while Ryan Deeter did give away the lead when he came in, he still worked a solid inning to pick up his first win of the season. Scott Griggs worked himself into trouble, but he got the job done with three strikeouts to pick up the four-out save.

It took until the fifth inning for UCLA to even get a base runner, let alone a run across. Georgia didn't have those problems, putting men on in the first and second innings and finally getting on the scoreboard in the third.

The inning started with a walk and single. When the Bulldogs picked up a double, it scored the opening run of the ballgame and a sacrifice fly followed to score a second run. A two-out single then brought home a third run and the Bulldogs held a 3-0 lead after three.

Gelalich finally broke up the perfect game in the fifth inning with a lead off single and then the Bruins got some help from the Bulldogs. A pick off attempt went awry and Gelalich took second before a wild pitch moved him to third so when Pat Valaika singled with two outs, Gelalich came in to score the Bruins' only run. The Bruins then loaded the bases for Beau Amaral, who hit a liner that went off the glove of the second baseman and got away. The scorer ruled it an error, but UCLA didn't care about the ruling because what mattered was that it allowed two runs to score and the game was tied up at three apiece.

An inning later, the Bruins would get on top thanks to a quick start to the inning. Keefer led off the frame with a base hit and Gelalich followed with one of his own to put men on the corners so all Trevor Brown had to do was hit a ground ball and Keefer was in to score.

UCLA's lead would last until the seventh when the Bulldogs got even. A lead off double marked the end of Vander Tuig's day and Watson came in to replace him. If he was nervous about pitching on the road in front of a big crowd for the fist time, he didn't show it as he struck out the two batters he faced. That's when John Savage went to Deeter, who gave up a double that tied the game up for Georgia before getting the inning-ending strikeout.

The tie game would not last for long, though. The Bruins came right back in the next half inning thanks to some shoddy Georgia defense. Amaral reached on an error for the second time in the game and took second then when Heineman laid down a sacrifice bunt, the Bulldogs made a second error. This one allowed Amaral to score and put Heineman on second. A single by Keefer then scored Heineman and the Bruins held a 6-4 lead.

Deeter ran into two-out trouble in the eighth when he gave up consecutive singles and that's when Savage made the bold move to go to Griggs for the four-out save. The closer's outing got off to an auspicious start when he walked the first batter he faced to load the bags, but it looked like he would get out of it with a grounder to first. Brown booted the ball, though, and the inning continued. A run scored on the play to cut the Bruins' lead to 6-5 and the bases were still loaded, but Griggs buckled down and got an inning-ending strikeout to keep UCLA in front.

A double by Keck started the Bruins' ninth, but it looked like it would be wasted when the next two men went down on strikes. That's when Heineman came to the plate and laced a key single to right, scoring a run and giving UCLA a two-run lead again.

Griggs went back out in the ninth and immediately got himself in trouble with a lead off walk. A strikeout followed, but then a double put the tying run on second with just one out. A second strikeout put the Bruins an out away from victory, but then a wild pitch scored a run and moved the tying run to third. All the pressure was on Griggs, but he stepped up, getting a ground out to end the game and preserve the Bruins' win.