The UCLA Bruins baseball team (42-12; 22-6 Pac 12) scrapped out a 4-3 victory over the Oregon Ducks (35-23; 14-14 PAC 12) last night in Eugene, to further lock down a national seed, and to put the Ducks’ postseason hopes in serious jeopardy. The Ducks almost certainly have to win the last two games of the series to have a chance at a postseason berth.
Although UCLA starter, James Kaprielian, didn’t have his best stuff, the Bruins still spotted him to a 3-1 lead through five innings. Oregon got on the board first, with a solo home run by Scott Heineman in the bottom of the 2nd inning. UCLA bounced back immediately, putting up 3 runs in the top of the 3rd inning. With one out, Christoph Bono walked, then took second on a wild pitch, and took 3rd on a passed ball. Trent Chatterton, drew a walk, bring hot-hitting Brett Stephens to the plate. Stephens dropped a beautiful drag bunt down the first base side grass, squeezing home Bono to tie the score, and legging it out for a bunt single. Kevin Kramer grounded out, and Ty Moore walked, loading the bases for Luke Perisco. Perisco went the other way on an outside pitch, lining the ball to right field, scoring Chatty and Stephens, for a 3-1 UCLA lead.
That’s how it stayed until Kap got into a bit of trouble in the 6th. Cody Poteet came in to extinguish the threat, facing three batters and recording three outs. Poteet helped himself with a nice defensive play on a bunt, and a beautiful called third strike on a big curveball to end the inning.
Tucker Forbes pitched a perfect 7th inning and all seemed well in Bruinland. Grant Dyer in the 8th and Dave Berg in the 9th . . . game over, right? Wrong.
Dyer gave up a first pitch single and then, after a K, gave up a second single. Exit Dyer; enter Berg, with runners on 1st and 2nd. After a double steal, putting both runners into scoring position, Oregon’s 8 hole hitter, Tim Susnara, ripped a ball through the box—just missing Berg’s outstretched glove—into center field for a 2 RBI single, tying the game at 3.
The threat wasn’t over though, with a runner on 1st and one out. Berg included a fielder’s choice, 6-4, in which Kramer made a great diving play to glove the ball, and then a flyout to end the 8th inning.
In the ninth, Daryl Miller, Jr. led off with a single off the shortstop’s glove. Kort Peterson sacrificed Miller, Jr. over to second, and Brett Urabe came on to pinch run. After Bono and Chatty walked to load the bases with one out, Oregon went to their ace closer, Garrett Cleavinger. Stephens grounded to the third baseman, who threw to the plate for the force out at home. Still bases loaded, but two now outs for Kevin Kramer.
Kramer takes his base and the Bruins take the leads 4-3. UCLA was unable to scratch out any more runs, and the game went to the bottom of the 9th.
Dave Berg was able to retire the Ducks in the 9th. But it wasn’t easy. Oregon started off with a lead-off single, and a sac bunt to get the runner over to second. The Ducks had two chanced to cash in the run, tie the game, extend the game, and perhaps extend their season beyond Sunday, but they were unable to do so, with consecutive ground outs to the end the game. Dave Berg earned the win.
The Bruins will try for the series win tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. The Ducks will try to keep their fading postseason hopes alive. Senior lefty, Grant Watson (8-4; 2.02 ERA), starts for UCLA and freshman lefty, David Peterson (4-6, 4.62 ERA), will take the mound for the Ducks.
This is your UCLA v. Oregon Game 2 Open Thread.