The UCLA Bruin Baseball team (23-20, 12-8 PAC 12) overcame a 2-0 deficit early in the game last night against the Southern Cal Trojans (19-24, 6-14 PAC 12), scoring two runs in the 9th inning to take the game, 4-2, and earning the series win. The Bruins seek the series sweep today at 7 p.m. PT at Dedeaux Field.
UCLA’s starter, Moises Ceja, only lasted 1 and 1⁄3 innings yesterday, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. Southern Cal scored both of their runs in the 1st inning, but it could have been worse. Despite putting the first five batters on base, Ceja escaped major damage by picking off a runner for the first out, and the Trojans had a runner thrown out at third trying to go from 1st to 3rd on an RBI single.
The Bruins answered in the top of the 2nd inning, cutting the lead to 2-1, on a leadoff double by freshman Michael Toglia and two out, RBI double by freshman Ryan Kreidler. Both Toglia and Kreidler have been rounding into form from the plate of late, shaking off early season struggles.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Ceja allowed a single and a walk after striking out the lead off man, and that was enough for Head Coach John Savage, who ended Ceja’s night. In came Jake Bird, who pitched well early in the season when he was a Saturday starter, but was relegated to the bullpen after injury. Frankly, Bird had struggled as a reliever, that is until last night.
Not only did Bird get out of the 2nd inning without allowing run, he went on to throw 6 and 1⁄3 innings, allowing no runs, scattering four hits, and striking out seven. It was a performance reminiscent of his early season starts.
Bird’s performance kept UCLA in the game, and the Bruins would tie it up in the 6th inning on a Sean Bouchard solo home run to left center field.
UCLA would finally take the lead in the top of the 9th inning. The Bruins loaded the bases with one out for Kreidler, who was clutch for the second time on the night. Kreidler singled up the middle, scoring two runs, and giving UCLA the 4-2 lead. Kreidler drove in three of UCLA’s four runs on a very nice night for him.
There was a little bit of drama in the bottom of the 9th inning, as Southern Cal put runners on the corners with two outs. UCLA’s closer, Scott Burke, had just come on and had given up the single that put the tying runs on base and the winning run at the plate. Bruin fans no doubt thought back to Tuesday night’s gut-wrenching loss to SDSU, when Burke gave up two home runs in the 9th inning in a save situation, turning a 6-5 UCLA lead into an 8-6 UCLA loss.
But Burke delivered last night, striking out Southern Cal’s Adalberto Carillo for final out of the game. Nick Sheidler (2-4), who came on with two outs in the eighth inning, earned the win and Burke recorded the save, his fourth of the season.
UCLA seeks the series sweep today over their rivals, as Jon Olsen (3-1, 3.66 ERA) will take the mound for the Bruins. Southern Cal will try to salvage one win from this series, and will counter with Marrick Crouse (2-6, 7.22 ERA).
Will UCLA break out the brooms? Follow along at 7 p.n. PT to see.
This is your UCLA Bruin Baseball versus Southern Cal Trojans game three open thread.