In what is becoming a theme for the UCLA Bruin baseball team this season, the inconsistent bullpen once again cost UCLA, as the Bruins (15-17, 6-8 PAC 12) fell 8-7 to the Washington Huskies (18-12, 8-6 PAC 12). Both teams will try for the series win today at 1 p.m. PT.
This time the inconsistency came from the usually solid Tucker Forbes, who walked four batters in the 7th inning, recording just one out. Two of those walks were with the bases loaded, the second of which allowed the tying run to score. Jake Bird came in and walked another with the bases loaded, for what would become the winning run. The Huskies only had one hit, a single, in the critical 7th inning, which flipped the score from 7-5 UCLA, to 8-7 UDub. Washington's excellent closer, Troy Rallings shut the door on the Bruins in the 8th and 9th, retiring six of the seven UCLA batters he faced for his eighth save of the season.
Earlier in the game, Hunter Virant walked the only batter he faced in the 4th inning with the bases loaded.
That's right, Washington was the beneficiary of four (count 'em, four!) walks with the bases loaded, resulting in four of UW's eight runs. UCLA pitchers walked a total of ten Huskies on the day.
John Savage must be pulling his hair out because UCLA pitchers are having significant challenges finding the plate when it counts. What has happened to throwing strikes and playing defense? Are these kids trying to make the perfect pitch every time? This was an extremely frustrating game for UCLA fans. A microcosm of the season.
On offense, UCLA had one really good inning, exploding for six runs in the top of the 3rd inning, on the strength of bases-loaded doubles by Luke Persico (2 RBI) and Trent Chatterton (3 RBI). Washington's starter, Joe DeMers, put the Huskies in a bad position with two walks and two batters hit with pitches in the 3rd.
UCLA's 6-1 lead was short-lived, as Washington plated three runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning, to close the gap to 6-4. Both teams notched single runs in the 4th inning, and the score remained 7-5 until the dubious 7th inning.
Kevin Molnar (2-3, 3.74 ERA) will start in the rubber game today for UCLA. Molnar, a freshman, has pitched pretty well for the Bruins this season. Although he took the loss last week, his ERA actually went down as two of the four runs he conceded were unearned.
Washington's starter was listed as TBA, but it looks like Greg Minier, who threw 2 and 1/3 innings yesterday, will get the call. In recent weeks, the Huskies have taken a committee approach to their Sunday games, so it stands to reason that Minier might not last long.
This is your UCLA v. Washington baseball Game 3 open thread.