On Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium against the UC Irvine Anteaters, the UCLA Bruin baseball team was unable to get a clutch hit in the bottom of the 9th inning, with a runner in scoring position and only one out. The Bruins lost in the 10th inning and I bemoaned UCLA's lack of timely hitting in yesterday's article.
Yesterday, as the home and home series switched to Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, UCLA was faced with a similar situation. The Bruins were hanging on to a tenuous 2-1 lead going into the top of the 9th inning. Grant Dyer had pitched eight innings, and had already thrown 109 pitches. UCLA needed an insurance run to take some of the pressure off a tiring Dyer (and perhaps an underperforming bullpen) going into the bottom half of the frame.
After UCLA's catcher, Daniel Rosica beat out a one-out infield single to the hole between third base and shortstop--UCLA has surprising speed at the catcher position--Trent Chatterton grounded out, moving Rosica over to second base with two down. Brett Urabe stepped to the plate and stroked a clutch single to left, scoring Rosica from second at a very close play at the plate, putting UCLA up 3-1. Eric Filia then came to the dish and drove home Urabe with a double off the wall in right center field. 4-1 Bruins.
Those timely hits took the pressure of Dyer in the bottom of the 9th, as he calmly set down the Anteaters in order. Game over. Bruins win, 4-1.
Grant Dyer had perhaps the best outing as a UCLA starting pitcher, throwing a complete game, allowing only one run and scattering four hits. Dyer struck out a career-best nine batters. Grant had his patented 12 to 6 curve ball working well, which made his off speed pitch and his fastball even more effective. The win evened Dyer's record at 3-3 and his ERA dropped from 5.89 to 5.11. Clutch performance by Grant when the team needed it.
Both teams will try to win the series today at 1 p.m. PT. UCLA (22-22) returns to the friendly confines of Jackie Robinson Stadium (where they will play their next nine games), and will put the ball in Kyle Molnar's right hand. Molnar is a freshman who has pitched very well for the Bruins this season. He has my (non-existent) vote for the squad's UCLA freshman of the year. Molnar is 4-4 with a 3.36 ERA.
Irvine (26-18) will counter with sophomore right hander, Alonzo Garcia (4-3, 4.50 ERA). Garcia was punished by the Cal State Fullerton Titans last weekend in Irvine, giving up eight hits and six runs (3 earned) in three innings of work. Garcia took the loss. The week before, Garcia had a great outing at UC Davis, throwing seven innings and allowing only one run on five hits. Garcia secured the win against the Aggies. Which Alonzo Garcia will the Bruins face today? Tune in at 1 p.m. to see.
The game is not televised, but John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm are always fun to listen to on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You can catch them via UCLA's online audio stream. Or you can follow along with live stats.
This is your UCLA v. UC Irvine Baseball Game 3 Open Thread.
Go Bruins!! Let's get the series win!