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UCLA Baseball Continues Downward Spiral: Swept by Oregon at Home

UCLA Baseball's losing streak reached 10 games, as the Bruins were swept at Jackie Robinson Stadium by Oregon. The series included solid starting pitching, decent bullpen pitching, low production at the plate, and questionable decisions on the basepaths. Next up to finish this season (which can't end soon enough) is an away series at Washington, which will be battling for the Pac-12 championship.

Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

UCLA was swept by Oregon to cap an extremely disappointing home season. The Bruins finished 11-20 at home. Ouch. What a way to cap the outstanding careers of the four Bruin seniors. More on them in a moment.

Friday night, UCLA lost 2-1, despite an outstanding pitching performance (as usual) by James Kaprielian (9 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 11 K). This brought the UCLA record in one-run games to 6-10. Last year, UCLA's record in the national championship season in one-run games was 17-2. Enough said.

The game was tied until the top of the 6th, when Oregon scored on a two-out single. Oregon scored what proved to be the winning run in the top of the 7th, as the runner on 3rd broke to the plate after a bunt out at 1st, and jarred the ball loose from Shane Zeile. The lone Bruin run scored in the bottom of the 7th on a bases loaded hit by pitch. In the bottom of the 8th, the tying UCLA run was thrown out at the plate on a squeeze bunt in a close play. And the tying run was thrown out at the plate again with the next batter as Aaron Weimer hit a single to short left field, and Luke Persico was thrown out easily trying to score. Here is the box score from Friday's game.

Saturday night, UCLA lost 4-1. Grant Watson (6 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 9 K) had a good outing, but with the Bruin bats dormant, a good outing was not enough. Oregon scored once in the 1st, twice in the 3rd, and once in the 5th. The only UCLA run came on a Shane Zeile solo home run in the bottom of the 6th. Max Schuh, Nick Kern, and David Berg combined to hold the Ducks scoreless the rest of the way, but it was once again a case of too little, too late. Here is the box score from the Saturday game.

Sunday, UCLA took an early lead, but could not hold the advantage, and went down in extra innings on Senior Day. UCLA scored in the bottom of the 1st on a 2 out RBI triple by Shane Zeile. Oregon got that run back in the top of the 3rd. But the Bruins jumped ahead again, as Shane Zeile doubled in Brett Stephens. Justin Hazard followed with a two run single, to make the score 4-1 UCLA in the bottom of the 3rd. Cody Poteet (6 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 K) unfortunately could not hold the lead as Oregon tied the game in the top of the 7th. Two of Poteet's runs were inherited runners who scored with Nick Kern on the mound. After Max Schuh got the final out in the 7th, David Berg came on to pitch the 8th and beyond.

The game went extra innings still tied 4-4. In the bottom of the 10th, with runners on 1st and 2nd, pinch hitter Darrell Miller Jr hit a ball up the middle for a hit which glanced off the shortstop's glove into very short center field. And, perhaps channeling some of TIARA's coaching moves, the third base coach waved pinch runner Brett Urabe home from 2nd. He was thrown out by a mile. On to the 11th. David Berg gave up a 2 out run scoring single to put the Ducks up for the 1st time in the game. The Bruins went quietly in the bottom of the 11th, with the tying run on 1st and the winning run at the plate, as the last two outs were called third strikes. So with the final score 5-4 Oregon, the Bruins fall to 6-11 in one run games this season.

This moves UCLA to 23-29-1 on the season. The Bruins are 10-17 in conference play. UCLA will be fighting Cal to see who finishes 8th and 9th in the conference. Ouch again. The Bruins will help determine the conference champion, as the final three games of the season will be played next weekend in Seattle. Washington is battling Oregon State for the top spot, and is also in the hunt to be a regional host. This season will not get any easier before it mercifully comes to a close.

So let's end with happier thoughts. On to the Seniors. But first, why did Morgan Center have to put the Bruins in their beer league softball uniforms on this of all days? I can just see it now. Brian Carroll, Pat Gallagher, Aaron Weimer and Kevin Williams come back to campus for a reunion way in the future. And their grandkids look at their Senior Day picture, and say in unison "You all played on the same beer league softball team in college? That is so cool." When Brian, Pat, Aaron and Kevin explain that these were the baseball uniforms, the kids say "No way. Baseball uniforms have pinstripes, and are really classy." At which point, Brian, Pat, Aaron and Kevin have to explain that back in the day, UCLA had a doofus AD who didn't worry about classy.

Meanwhile, like I said, on to happier thoughts. These four seniors were members of two teams which went to Omaha, and were members of the first national championship baseball team in UCLA history. And the Bruins could not have done it without them.

In 2013, Brian Carroll was the lead off hitter and starting center fielder for every game. He scored four runs in the championship series, compared to one run in the two games for Mississippi State. Brian came to UCLA from Granite Hills HS in San Diego, and is a Poli Sci major (as was yours truly).

Pat Gallagher started 48 games at first base for the Bruins in the championship season. He was the MVP of the Los Angeles regional, and was part of the history making final out in Omaha, tossing to David Berg for an assist to bring the championship to Westwood. Pat came to UCLA from Reno HS, and is a History major (got to love the social sciences).

Aaron Weimer contributed to the Bruins primarily as the bullpen catcher during his career, including in Omaha. Aaron proved his versatility down the stretch this season, taking over at third after Chris Keck went down with a season ending injury. Aaron came to UCLA from Bullard HS in Fresno, and is a Soc major (another social sciences guy- yes).

Kevin Williams started 36 games for the Bruins in the championship season, primarily at DH. In Omaha, Williams was the DH for both games of the championship series, and scored the 4th run in the title game (matching Mississippi State's total for the series). Williams was drafted in the 29th round by the Marlins, but chose to return for his senior season, which we should all applaud. Unfortunately for Kevin, his projected senior season 2B duties were cut short by injury, but he was able to contribute as the DH during the 2014 season. Kevin came to UCLA from Crespi HS in Van Nuys, and is also a Poli Sci major. So the Bruins have more senior ballplayers with Poli Sci majors (two) than Mississippi State had runs (one) in the national championship series. Coincidence? I think not, as a fellow Poli Sci major.

Here's to the seniors. And sorry again about the uniforms. But we will always have Omaha. Thanks for all the memories.

Go Bruins !!