The UCLA Bruin Baseball team (12-8, 4-1 PAC 12) evened its series with the Arizona Wildcats (15-7, 2-3 PAC 12) last night, breaking a 3-3 tie in the top of the ninth inning on a Sean Bouchard RBI single. The two teams face each other in game three of the series today at 1 p.m. PT, with each side seeking the series win.
UCLA got on the board quickly, as UCLA second baseman Brett Urabe led off the game with the triple. Urabe scored on a Brett Stephens ground out to second base and the Bruins had the early lead, 1-0.
UCLA's starting pitcher, Grant Dyer, was masterful in his first three innings of work, conceding only one hit. Unfortunately for UCLA, Arizona pitcher Nathan Bannister also settled down, retiring the Bruins in the 2nd and 3rd innings, and getting out of a two out, bases-loaded jam in the 4th inning without conceding a run.
The 'Cats broke though in the bottom of the 4th inning, plating two runs to take a 2-1 lead. Arizona had two singles, two walks and a throwing error by Dyer on an attempted pick off play.
The Bruins struck right back in the top of the 5th inning, scoring two to take a 3-2 lead. Eric Filia started the inning off with a single up the middle, and was forced out at second on a fielder's choice, putting Luke Persico on first. Kort Peterson tripled to the gap in right center field, scoring Persico. Bouchard then singled home Peterson, but UCLA was not able to further add to its lead.
The Wildcats tied the game, 3-3, in bottom of the 6th, on a triple and a single of their own.
Neither team scored again until UCLA's game winning run in the 9th inning. Arizona's closer and PAC 12 Player of the Week, Bobby Dalbec, retired the first two Bruins he faced, before Kort Peterson singled and stole second base. Bouchard singled Peterson home, giving UCLA the 4-3 lead.
UCLA Head Coach, John Savage, elected to keep Dyer in the game for the bottom of the 9th inning and Dyer promptly gave up a single, putting the tying run on first and the winning run at the plate. Arizona's catcher, however, grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and Dyer induced a pop up to Urabe to end the game.
Dyer had his best outing of the season, going all nine innings, giving up six hits, two earned runs, and striking out seven. On the offensive side Sean Bouchard had a very nice game, going 3 for 5 with 3 RBI. Bouchard is 5 for 9 in the series, raising his average to .297.
Reigning PAC 12 Pitcher of the Week, Kevin Molnar (2-1, 4.50 ERA) gets the start today for UCLA. Molnar has been improving with each start. Dalbec (4-2, 1.48 ERA) is listed as today's starting pitcher for the 'Cats, but he threw two innings of relief yesterday, calling into question his availability for today.
First pitch is in less than an hour, at 1 p.m. PT. UCLA can retain sole possession of first place in the PAC 12 with a win, as Oregon State has lost the first two games of its series at Cal (UCLA's opponent at Berkeley next weekend).
This is your UCLA v. Arizona Game rubber match open thread.