Trailing for most of the game, the UCLA Bruin baseball team (21-9, 10-4 PAC 12) tied it up in the 8th inning and blew past Utah (9-24, 4-7 PAC 12) with a three run 9th inning, beating the Utes, 6-3, and earning the series win. The Bruins will try for the series sweep and Utah will try to salvage a win out of the series today at 12 noon, PT.
In yesterday’s game, the Utes struck quickly in the bottom of the 1st inning, on an Oliver Dunn solo home run. It was not long, however, before UCLA took the lead, 2-1, in the top of the 2nd inning, when Daniel Amaral singled home Jack Stronach and Michael Toglia.
Utah scored two more runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning, with Dunn yet again getting a big hit (an RBI double this time) and then scoring on a single by Rykker Tom. Utah would maintain its 3-2 lead until the 8th inning, when UCLA tied it up, 3-3, on an RBI single by Jeremy Ydens.
After Kyle Molnar (more on him in a moment) held Utah scoreless in the bottom of the 8th inning, UCLA came to the plate in the 9th inning in a tie ballgame.
UCLA found itself with runners on 2nd and 3rd, two outs, and Ryan Kreidler’s slot in the lineup. Head Coach John Savage opted to use Jarron Silva as a pinch hitter for Kreidler, and it paid off. Silva ripped a double down the left field line, scoring Stronach and Toglia, staking UCLA to a 5-3 lead. Garrett Mitchell (who was 3 for 4 on the day) then singled home Silva, giving UCLA a three run lead.
Holden Powell came on for UCLA in the 9th inning to earn the save, his 4th of the season. UCLA starter Zach Pettway pitched pretty well in a no-decision, allowing only two earned runs in seven innings.
The big news, however, was the return of Molnar, who opened eyes as a true freshman for the Bruins in 2016, as the Sunday starter. Molnar, who underwent Tommy John surgery in June, 2016, finally made his return to UCLA baseball after 23 months. Molnar last pitched for the Bruins in May, 2016.
Yesterday, Molnar threw a scoreless 8th inning, striking out one and allowing two walks, to earn the win. Molnar’s return (and Jon Olsen’s return last week) bring stability and depth to the UCLA pitching staff, a pleasing development for the second half of the 2018 season.
First pitch for today’s game is at 12 noon PT. Jon Olsen (2-0, 1.82 ERA) gets the start for UCLA. Utah will counter with freshman Brett Bocoff (2-4, 4.42 ERA).
This is your UCLA Bruin baseball versus Utah Utes open thread.