UCLA's hopes of winning a third Pac-12 title may have slipped away in the seventh and eighth innings on Sunday. That's when they saw their one-run lead slip away as Washington St. came from behind to defeat the Bruins 4-3 in Pullman.
With the loss, UCLA dropped to 27-13 overall and 11-7 in the Pac-12, which is still good enough for third place, but coupled with a win by Oregon, the Bruins are now 3.5 games back. With Oregon St. also three games in front of them, UCLA may have to kiss their conference championship dreams goodbye.
The UCLA offense that put up big numbers on Friday and Saturday was nowhere to be found on Sunday, but it wasn't for lack of chances. Pat Valaika and Cody Regis each had two hits to lead an eight-hit game for the Bruins, while the Cougars tried to help them out with five errors, but the Bruins couldn't do anything with it.
Grant Watson got the start for UCLA, but it wasn't a long one as he got the hook after just 4.1 innings. Watson ran into trouble in the very first inning, allowing a leadoff single and after a sacrifice bunt, the Cougars got on the board with a RBI single.
UCLA had scored first in each of the first two games, but when they didn't on Sunday, they did a good job of answering back quickly. Regis doubled to start the inning before Pat Gallagher singled to second base. Wazzu gave the Bruins the first of five gifts on the play too, as an error allowed Regis to come all the way around an score. After another error allowed Christoph Bono to reach, Brenton Allen stroked a single to left. Gallagher scored easily on the play and the Bruins had taken a 2-1 lead.
That lead only last until the third, when Wazzu cashed in on a one-out triple. Watson almost got out of the jam, picking up an out and an error by Gallagher at first didn't help, but eventually he surrendered a two-out RBI single and the game was tied 2-2.
The Bruins regained their lead in the fifth thanks to Brian Carroll, who led off the inning with a single before stealing second and taking third on an error. From there, he just needed to wait for the Cougars to throw a wild pitch, which they did, allowing him to scamper home to out UCLA back in front.
UCLA's lead never felt safe, though. Watson was struggling, allowing another trip in the fourth and while he got out of it, it clearly wasn't his day. In the fifth, he allowed consecutive singles and with one out and men at the corners, John Savage had seen enough. Watson got the hook and in came Cody Poteet, who struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
The next inning, Poteet struck out two more in a scoreless frame, but the freshman exited after that inning and things went downhill. Ryan Deeter walked a man in the seventh and after he stole second, a two-out, full count single scored the man to tie the game at 3-3.
In the eighth, Zack Weiss and David Berg combined to surrender the winning run. Weiss hit the leadoff man, leading Savage to bring in Berg, but he didn't fair much better, although his defense didn't help. The first Cougar to face Berg got a sacrifice bunt down to move the go-ahead run into scoring position, but Berg got the next man to pop up. One out away from getting out of the inning, though, Berg allowed a single. That wasn't too bad, as it just allowed the go-ahead run to reach third, but when Gallagher tried to make the play at first, only to throw it away so the winning run could score, UCLA was in trouble. Wazzu had scored the go-ahead run, on an error to boot, and the Bruins were down to their final three outs.
UCLA didn't do much with their last three outs, only drawing a two-out walk in an otherwise meek inning. Washington St. had closed the door on them and maybe on their Pac-12 title hopes too.