UCLA Baseball was done in terms of the pennant race well before this weekend, thanks to a 10 game losing streak which extended through most of May. But the Bruins did end the season on the road with a series victory over second place Washington.
Friday night, UCLA sent James Kaprielian to the mound for his final start of the 2014 season. And Kaprielian responded with a lights out performance (8 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 11 K). The Bruins put the pressure on from the get-go, as Justin Hazard hit a 2 run triple in the top of the 1st. Ty Moore had an RBI single to drive in the 3rd run in the top of the 6th. And that took care of the scoring. Kaprielian got the win to move to 7-6 on the season, and David Berg pitched a perfect 9th inning for his 10th save. Here is the box score for Friday's game.
Saturday night, it was Grant Watson's turn in his final start of the 2014 season. Watson gave up an early lead, allowing single runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings. UCLA finally got on the board in the 7th, on an RBI single by Justin Hazard. Watson settled down, meantime, and threw seven strong innings (7 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 3 K). The score was 3-1 in the top of the 9th, when the Bruins put on their best performance in the clutch on offense this year. Shane Zeile hit a sac fly to make the score 3-2. Hazard hit an RBI single to tie the game 3-3. Luke Persico drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI double. And Aaron Weimer, playing in his next to last game for UCLA, drove in two more runs with a single, to put the Bruins up 6-3. Berg pitched another perfect 9th inning to pick up back-to-back saves (just like the good old days). The win went to Jake Ehret, who finished the bottom of the 8th in relief. Here is the box score for Saturday's game.
Sunday afternoon was a different story, as Washington ended UCLA's short two game win streak. Cody Poteet (4.1 IP, 6 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 K) took the loss. There was no score through three innings, and then the roof caved in. The Huskies scored three in the bottom of the 4th, and three more in the bottom of the 5th off Poteet. UCLA scored its lone run on a ground out RBI from Aaron Weimer. Final score 6-1 Washington.
With that, UCLA finishes 2014 25-30-1, 12-18 in conference play (9th place- Ouch). This is the first time UCLA has not gone to Omaha since the 2011 season, the first time UCLA has not gone to the postseason since the 2009 season, the first time UCLA has had a losing record since the 2009 season, and the first time UCLA has had a losing record in conference play since the 2003 season.
This is definitely a season to forget. Next up will be "hold your breath" time as the MLB draft takes place, starting June 5. College baseball fortunes are made and loss to no small extent in the MLB draft. Juniors and redshirt sophomores who are drafted either turn pro or thrill their teammates by returning for their senior campaign (exp- Ben Wetzler at Oregon State this year, Chris Appel at Stanford last year). High school recruits who are drafted either turn pro or come to play for their college team (exp- Gerrit Cole in 2008). Until the signing deadline passes, things stay up in the air.
But the Bruins do have one towering strength going into next season. James Kaprieilian will once again anchor the UCLA rotation for his junior campaign. That means that every Friday game will be winnable, regardless of the competition. Now if we can just develop a similar base for the other games, we can get back to where we belong.
We will have a closer look at the 2014 season in a few days, after I finish crying. In the meantime, winning two out of three in Seattle was a great way to end the season. Let's build on that in the offseason. Go Bruins !!