UCLA came to the plate in the ninth inning three outs away from defeat. They trailed UC Irvine 4-2 and their power-starved offense surely wasn't going to tie things up with one swing of the bar so the Bruins were going to have to string together some hits to mount a comeback. But the Bruins did find some of that sought-after power in the form of Brenton Allen, who hit a dramatic two-run homer to tie the game to send the game to extra innings, where UCLA managed to upend Irvine 6-4 in 12 innings.
Allen's home run was one of 14 UCLA hits and the first dinger of his career. Brian Carroll, Kevin Kramer, Eric Filia, Pat Valaika and Kevin Williams each had two hits in the game, while David Berg threw four shutout innings to pick up the win at the end of 6.1 shutout innings by the sterling Bruins bullpen.
The Bruins' problems scoring men on base started in the first inning when they wasted two singles and left a man on third, which the Anteaters made them pay for in the bottom of the inning. Cody Poteet allowed a double on his first pitch of the game and after a one-out walk, another double scored two runs to give Irvine a 2-0 lead. A single followed, scoring another run and the Anteaters had themselves a three-run lead.
Allen helped get UCLA on the first in the third inning when he led off the frame with a walk. After taking second on a wild pitch and third on Carroll's single, Allen was able to score when Kramer hit into a double play and the Irvine lead was cut to 3-1.
Poor defense doomed the Bruins in the fourth when Kramer dropped a fly ball for a two-base error. After a sacrifice bunt and walk, the Anteaters had men at the corners and they pulled off a double steal, bringing a run home to restore Irvine three-run advantage.
After leaving men on again in the fifth, UCLA did get back on the board in the sixth. Filia and Valaika picked up back-to-back one-out singles to bring up Pat Gallagher, whose fielder's choice scored Filia from third to cut the Irvine lead to 4-2.
Poteet settled down after the rough first inning and managed to strike out four in 5.2 innings, while allowing just four runs (three earned) before handing the ball to the bullpen. Ryan Deeter came on first and retired the two batters he faced before Zack Weiss entered and worked 1.2 innings of one-hit ball.
As good as the Bruins' relief corps. were, it didn't mean much if the offense couldn't find any runs and after leaving men on in the seventh and eighth, it didn't look like they would. But in the ninth, Allen got it done.
Williams pinch hit with one-out in the ninth and jumped on the first pitch he saw with a double to left. That brought up the ever-patient Allen, who took the first two pitches he saw for balls. In a 2-0 count, Allen was sitting on a fastball and that's what he got, blasting it out to right for a game-tying home run that gave UCLA new life.
Berg entered in the bottom of the ninth and sat the Anteaters down in order, which should have sent him out to wrap things up an inning later, but Filia got thrown out at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch in the 10th so the Bruins had to keep plugging away.
Another perfect inning by Berg led to another inning in which the Bruins left men on base. This time they left men on the corners in the 11th so Berg came on for another 1-2-3 frame in the bottom half.
Finally, UCLA broke through in the top of the 12th, cued by Valaika's leadoff double. From there, the Bruins just feasted on Anteaters' errors. A wayward on Justin Hazard's sacrifice bunt allowed Valaika to score and Hazard to take third. Another sacrifice bunt followed to push Hazard to third and when Irvine dropped Shane Zeile's fly ball, Hazard was allowed to score to make it 6-4.
As he had done for three innings already, Berg went back out and worked another perfect inning. It was a wondrous performance by the sophomore, which combined with Allen's home run and a pair of 12th inning runs helped deliver a UCLA victory in Irvine.