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UCLA Survives Scare in 9th to Beat Cal Poly 2-1, Seeks Series Win Today

UCLA starter Griffin Canning got into a jam in the final frame, but Scott Burke came in to secure the Bruin victory.

Scott Burke earned the save last night in a pressure situation
Scott Burke earned the save last night in a pressure situation

The UCLA Bruin Baseball team (20-18, 10-8 PAC 12) survived a late game scare last night, edging the Cal Poly Mustangs, 2-1. Griffin Canning (4-2) earned the win for UCLA, while Erich Uelman (2-7) took the loss.

Canning and the Bruins were cruising along last night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, going into the 9th inning with a 2-0 lead, courtesy of a Brett Stephens two out, two run double in the bottom of the 7th inning. The Bruin starter had only given up three hits in 8 innings, had struck out eight, and had only thrown 88 pitches.

Head Coach John Savage sent Canning out for the 9th inning to try to record the complete game. Canning struck out the first two batters swinging (including Cal Poly’s best player Alex McKenna) and the script seemed to be written with one out to go.

Then things took a turn. Bradlee Beesley singled through the hole on the right on Canning’s next pitch. Kyle Marinconz followed with another single through the hole to right field. Michael Sanderson stepped to the plate representing the game winning run. During Sanderson’s at-bat, Canning threw a wild pitch and the Mustang runners advanced to second and third. After fouling off five pitches, Sanderson hit an infield single to third, scoring a run and cutting UCLA’s lead to 2-1.

That was it for Canning. Coach Savage brought in the senior righty, Scott Burke, with a one run lead and runners at the corners. Burke delivered. On a 2-2 pitch, catcher Nick Meyer was caught looking at strike three, ending the game in dramatic fashion and giving Burke his second save of the season.

Notwithstanding the 9th inning, Canning was masterful. The same cannot be said about the Bruin bats, as UCLA only recorded six hits. After such a tough stretch, maybe last night was a letdown game for the Bruins. Let’s hope UCLA’s bats wake up today as the Bruins will not have the luxury of leaning on Griffin Canning.

That is no slight to UCLA’s starter today, Moises Ceja (2-3, 2.44 ERA). It’s just that Ceja (who only assumed the Saturday starter role after Jake Bird was injured earlier this season) has never pitched more than six innings, which he did last week against Oregon State, setting a career high. I expect a good outing from Ceja today, but it would be nice to have a cushion when Coach Savage goes to his bullpen.

Cal Poly will send arguably its best starter, Spencer Howard (3-1, 2.31 ERA), to the mound today. If the Bruins want to secure the series win today with a chance to sweep tomorrow, UCLA will need to hit Howard.

First pitch is at 2 p.m. PT. There is no TV but John Rmaey and Tim Wilhelm will talk you through the game via UCLA’s online streaming audio. You can also follow via live stats.

This is your UCLA Bruin Baseball versus Cal Poly Mustangs game two open thread.

Go Bruins!