The UCLA Bruin Baseball team (8-11, 2-2 PAC 12) won its second straight game in comeback fashion last night, erasing a 4-0 deficit to top the UC Berkeley Golden Bears, 9-5. Although the Golden Bears (9-10, 1-3 PAC 12) came into the game with the better offense, it was the Bruins that swung a big stick, including two home runs and two doubles that accounted for seven of UCLA’s nine runs.
The Golden Bears struck first, sending nine batters to the plate against UCLA’s Griffin Canning in the top of the 4th inning, taking a 4-0 lead. Berkeley had four singles, a walk, and a double in the 4th.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, Nick Valaika came up big for UCLA, with a two out, two run home run to put the Bruins on the board, cutting Berkeley’s lead to 4-2.
UCLA was not done. After Canning set the Golden Bears down in order in the top of the 6th inning, Chase Strumpf, who has been in a bit of a slump, led off the bottom half of the frame with a solo home run to left. After Ryan Kreidler walked and Daniel Rosica was hit by a pitch, Brett Stephens bunted both runners over to second and third. Daniel Amaral walked, loading the bases for Sean Bouchard, who managed a RBI sacrifice fly to right field, evening the score, 4-4.
With two outs and runners on first and third, up to the plate came hot hitting freshman, Kyle Cuellar. After Amaral stole second, Cuellar came through in the clutch, doubling to right field, scoring Rosica and Amaral. UCLA led, 6-4.
The Golden Bears responded, sending Canning to the showers in the top of the 7th inning after an infield single. Brian Gasdby could not stop the bleeding, allowing back-to-back singles, the latter of which brought Berkeley to within one run, 6-5. Head Coach John Savage called upon the big lefty, Justin Hooper, to get the final out of the inning and he delivered, inducing a line out to second base, ending the threat.
UCLA managed two insurance runs in the bottom of the 7th, as Daniel Amaral doubled home Kreidler (who had walked and stole second) and Rosica (who was--once again--hit by a pitch). Amaral’s double extended UCLA’s lead to 9-5 and the neither team would threaten again.
UCLA has to be brimming with confidence after back-to-back comeback victories. Although the Bruins only had eight hits on the night, UCLA got the timely hits with runners on base, something that has plagued the Bruins earlier this season. Hopefully that is a good sign of things to come, as this young team matures during the year.
Ironically, Canning (finally) notched his first win of the season in what was his toughest outing of the year, giving up five earned runs in 6.1 innings pitched. Nevertheless, it was a gutty performance by Canning, who threw 125 ptiches. He finally got the run support that he deserved.
The teams meet again today at 4 p.m. PT. Moises Ceja (1-1, 1.69 ERA) will start for UCLA, and Joey Matulovich (3-0, 3.18 ERA) will take the hill for Berkeley. The Bruins will seek the series win while the Golden Bears will look to even the series.
If you want to follow the game, you have options. The game is televised on the PAC 12 Network. John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will call the game via UCLA’s online streaming audio. You can also follow along with live stats.
This is your UCLA Bruin baseball versus UC Berkeley game two open thread.