Yesterday, the Bruins prevailed over the Cougs, 6-1, running their record to 20-5 (7-1 in the PAC 12). Cal also won, remaining tied with UCLA for first place. The Cougs dropped to 12-13 (1-7 in PAC 12 play).
UCLA continues to get strong performances from its pitching staff. Grant Watson went six innings, allowing one run on three hits. The Bruin bullpen was outstanding.
In our preview of the Utah series last week, we pointed out that Coach John Savage, who is known to be a master at handling his pitching staff, seemed to be looking for six strong innings out of his starter, and then a lethal combination of Tucker Forbes in the 7th, Grant Dyer in the 8th, and Dave Berg in the 9th. For the second time in four games, Coach Savage has done just that, and both times it worked very well. In the series finale against Utah last weekend, Forbes, Dyer, and Berg were perfect. 9 up; 9 down. No hits, no walks.
Yesterday afternoon, with the Bruins leading 6-1, Savage stuck with starter, Grant Watson, to start the 7th. Watty yielded a lead-off single, followed by a run scoring double. In came Forbes, who induced a double play and then recorded the third out, facing two batters. In the 8th, we saw Grant Dyer. Although Dyer walked a batter, he also struck out 2 and retired the side, facing 4 batters. Dave Berg faced 3 batters, with 2 strikeouts. Game, set, match. 9 batters; 9 outs. I really like this trio of relievers. I call them "The Terrible Trio™."
Offensively, UCLA was led by Luke Persico, who went 3-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored. The big hit was a 2 run double in the 6th inning to start the scoring. Persico came around to score on a Ty Moore single, extending the lead to 3-0.
Brett Urabe got a rare start over Christoph Bono in center field, and made it count, going 1-2 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Good production from the 9 hole. Although Kevin Kramer was only 1-4 with a walk, he made his hit count, a 2 RBI single to extend UCLA's lead to 6-0 in the top of the 6th.
From all accounts I have seen, WSU has not yet named their starter for the game today. The Bruins will start Griffin Canning in his second Sunday start. Canning was the mid-week pitcher until Coach Savage mixed it up last week, moving Canning to a Sunday start (which he won) and Cody Poteet to the midweek starter role. Canning, a right-handed freshman, comes into the game with a 4-1 record, a 2.57 ERA, and an incredible strikeout to walk ratio (41 to 4, best on the team). Sunday games are critical in the postseason, so it will be interesting to see how this situation shakes out in the second half of the season.
Speaking of which, believe it or not, UCLA is only 3 games away from the midpoint of the season. If you aren't already fired up about this team, it is time for a wake up call. THESE GUYS ARE GOOD. REALLY GOOD. They have an awesome coach that "Coach," a huge baseball fan, would be extremely proud of. There is plenty of space on the UCLA baseball bandwagon. Jump aboard!
In a bit of sad news, Washington State lost a legend yesterday. Hall of Famer, "Bobo" Brayton, who had 1,162 career wins, passed at the age of 89. Brayton was the WSU coach for 33 years, from 1962 to 1994. He won about 7 times out of 10 during his career. His teams won their conference 21 times. He is the "Brayton" in "Bailey-Brayton Field," WSU's home ballpark. A moment of silence for Mr. Brayton and we pass on our condolences to Brayton's family.
The first pitch today is at noon, PT. There is no TV coverage, but you can follow the game online via streaming video and/or you can listen to John Ramey call the game. If you want to watch, my advice is to mute the live stream and listen to Ramey. There is a bit of a delay between the stream and the call, but it is worth it. Ramey is that much better than the WSU guy.
This is your UCLA vs. Washington State baseball open thread.Go Bruins!!! Break out the brooms!!!