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Purdue's 10-Run Ninth Brings Them Back To Beat Shell Shocked UCLA

Nothing was going to help the UCLA 'pen in the ninth (Photo Credit: <a href="" target="new">Scott Wu</a>)
Nothing was going to help the UCLA 'pen in the ninth (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)

It looked like UCLA was well on their way to a series sweep of Purdue. They pounded out 14 hits and had shut down the Boilermaker offense for three straight innings to kill any momentum they might have. All the Bruins had left to do was get three more outs and a very impressive series sweep was their, but Purdue had other ideas. The UCLA bullpen fell apart in the ninth inning as Purdue sent 15 men to the plate in the ninth and scored 10 runs to turn a five-run deficit into a five-run lead en route to a 15-10 win over the Bruins.

The UCLA offense couldn't really have been asked to do more. Cody Keefer had three hits, three runs and two RBI. Jeff Gelalich added three hits of his own to go along with a run an RBI, while Beau Amaral had a hit, two walks and two runs scored. Eight of the nine UCLA starters had hits in the ballgame and the lone man who didn't, Trevor Brown, had a RBI. The offense did their job.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the Bruin pitching staff. Zack Weiss was shaky from the start and didn't make it out of the fifth inning. He allowed five runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings, but still, he exited with UCLA in front. Eric Jaffe walked the only two men he faced before David David and Ryan Deeter were their usual splendid selves in combining for three shutout innings. After that, though, nothing went the Bruins' way. Scott Griggs walked four and retired just one, surrendering four runs. Grant Watson also retired just one, but he gave up six hits and six runs. Zack Ortiz couldn't get either batter he faced out before Madison Poole finally ended a brutal ninth inning, but the damage was done.

A three-run second inning had UCLA flying high early. Gelalich singled and Brown bunted him over before Pat Valaika singled him home to put the Bruins in front. A two-out double by Brenton Allen, who just retured from injury, plated Valaika and then Kevin Williams added a double of his own to score Allen for an early 3-0 UCLA lead.

That lead would only last until the fourth inning when Purdue finally broke through after routinely threatening. Barrett Serrato hit a two-run home home to get the Boilermakers on the board, then the visitors strung together four straight singles to even the game up.

The game wouldn't be even for long, though. With two in scoring position and two out in the bottom half of the inning, Tyler Heineman lifted a fly ball to right that Serrato botched. What should have been the last out of the inning turned into a two-run play and UCLA was back on top. Keefer then doubled home a run and Gelalich singled home one of his own and the Bruins led 7-3.

The fifth inning would prove to be the end of the line for Weiss. After two singled put men on the corners, a groundout scored a run to make it a 7-4 ballgame. Weiss then walked the next man and that was it for him. Jaffe entered, but he walked the only two men he faced to force a run in. Leading just 7-5, UCLA turned to Brewer, who needed just two pitches to get the final out of the inning.

A RBI single by Keefer in the sixth then sacrifice fly by Brown added two runs to the UCLA lead in the sixth. They got one more run in the eighth when another dropped fly ball allowed Keefer to score and heading to the ninth, the Bruins were sitting pretty with a 10-5 lead.

After the way Berg and Deeter got the Bruins to the ninth, it looked like it was smooth sailing for UCLA, but then things got awful and quick. Griggs violated the first rule of protecting a lead when he simply couldn't throw strikes, walking four of the five men he faced. That forced a run in with just one away and earned him the hook. Watson did better in that he threw the ball over the plate, but the results weren't any better. A base hit scored a run and a sacrifice fly scored another, but at least that was an out and Watson needed just one more out with a 10-8 lead to seal things up. That's when Purdue rolled off hit after hit after hit. By the time John Savage finally pulled Watson, the Boilermakers led 13-10 and Ortiz gave up consecutive singles that made it 15-10 before Poole finally got UCLA out of a nightmare ninth.

UCLA did manage a run in the bottom half of the inning, but it wasn't nearly enough. The bullpen had the game in their hands and blew it. Griggs has walked a tightrope all year and finally got bit by the walk then Watson, who has been prone to getting roughed up when not on his game, took a beating. It was a rough inning and one that will haunt the Bruins for a while. Nobody will pretend it was anything less than disastrous, but it was one game of 56 and UCLA still won a series that has them back in line for a national seed. Take care of business down the stretch and this just becomes a wake up call.