The UCLA Bruin baseball team (25-29, 12-16 PAC 12) had opportunities to score runs against the Oregon State Beavers (33-19, 14-14 PAC 12) yesterday evening in Corvallis, especially early in the game but, as has been the case so many times with this frustrating team in 2016, the Bruins went not able to get the job done with the bats. Oregon State scored one run in the 7th inning, and that was enough for the Beavers to prevail, 1-0.
The Beavers plated the only run of the game on back-to-back singles from Kyle Nobach and Cadyn Grenier with one out in the bottom of the 7th inning, putting runners at the corners. A ground out from Nick Madrigal scored Nobach from third.
OSU's starting pitcher, Travis Eckert, did not get the decision but was impressive, throwing 6 and 2/3 scoreless innings. He pitched the Beavers out of jams in the first three innings, in which UCLA stranded six runners, four in scoring position. His best work came in the 2nd inning, when UCLA loaded the bases with one out. Eckert struck out Brett Urabe swinging, and then induced Brett Stephens to ground out to end the inning.
Eckert also struck out Christoph Bono swinging with Kort Peterson on third base and two out in the 3rd inning.
OSU left-hander Max Engelbrekt pitched 2 and 1/3 innings for the Beavers, earning the win. Engelbrekt kept the Bruins at bay, only allowing one hit, a two out single to Kort Peterson in the 8th inning.
Griffin Canning, who took the hard luck loss, finishes the season with a 5-8 record in 15 starts, and a 3.70 ERA. Frankly, the run support that the Bruins showed for Canning throughout the season borders on criminal. In three of Canning's losses, UCLA only scored one run. In last night's loss, UCLA did not score a run at all. In one of Canning's wins, a complete game gem at Washington, the Bruins only scored one run, but Canning shut out the Huskies, for a 1-0 Bruin victory.
So, to summarize, in five of Canning's 15 starts, UCLA scored only one run or less, and UCLA went 1-4 in those games. That explains why the Bruins' Friday starter has eight losses with a 3.70 ERA. If UCLA wins those games (as they should have), Canning's record would be 9-4 and UCLA would be 29-25, instead of 25-29.
The Bruins' loss means that UCLA Head Coach John Savage will suffer his fourth losing season (out of 12) while at UCLA. Coach Savage is by no means is on the hot seat (three College World Series appearances and one National Championship in the last seven seasons buys you significant goodwill). Bruin fans, however, will be expecting much, much more in 2017, even if, by and large, UCLA's heralded freshman class did not come close to reaching expectations this season, with the exceptions of starting pitcher Kyle Molnar and catcher Daniel Rosica.
In other news, Washington State beat Cal last night (likely ruining Cal's postseason chances), but drawing the Cougars one game closer to UCLA in the PAC 12 standings. That's right, the Bruins run the risk of finishing dead last in the PAC 12, or possibly tied for last depending on the outcome of UCLA's and WSU's remaining games this weekend. The fact that this is even possible shows just how disappointing this season has been for UCLA.
The Bruins can still play spoiler in this series if they hit the baseball. Oregon State's win last night puts them one game closer to making the post-season, but if UCLA can somehow scratch out victories in their last two games, the Beavers' case for inclusion would be much weaker.
Grant Dyer gets the start today for UCLA. Oregon State's starter is TBA, but expect to see Luke Heimlich (6-4, 3.94 ERA), or perhaps Bryce Fehmel (9-1, 2.55 ERA).
First pitch is at 4:00 p.m. PT.
This is your UCLA v. Oregon State game two open thread.