The UCLA Baseball team (2-2) dropped its second consecutive game in disappointing fashion yesterday, blowing another late inning lead. On Tuesday against UC Riverside, UCLA blew a two run eighth inning lead, losing 3-2 in nine innings.
Last night, against Gonzaga (3-2), UCLA took a 1-0 lead into the 9th inning. The Bruin bullpen couldn’t hold it, giving up a game-tying run in the 9th, and a game-winning run in the 10th, falling 2-1 in the extra frame.
Simply stated, Brian Gadsby, UCLA's sophomore right-handed closer had a big hand in both of the losses.
Last night’s debacle ruined a gem of a game from UCLA starting pitcher, Griffin Canning. Canning put on a show for the professional scouts, throwing seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits, and striking out 12, tying his career high for Ks.
It was a game that made me question if Head Coach John Savage is managing this staff well, especially the bullpen. The starters have been great. And I have a hell of a lot of respect for Coach Savage and his ability with pitching staffs. Maybe these kids just aren’t the David Bergs that UCLA fans are used to. Long gone are the 2015 days of Tucker Forbes, Grant Dyer, and David Berg absolutely shutting down teams in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.
But not all of the blame goes to the bullpen. This was a team choke. The Bruins, time and time again, had one or more runners on base and failed to get the timely hit. UCLA stranded 13 runners. The sole Bruin run came from a Nick Valaika home run. On the season, the Bruins are hitting .218.
At 2 PM today at Jackie Robinson Stadium, the Bruins will look to dig deep and bounce back to avoid the series loss. The Bruins will start junior Jake Bird (1-0; 1.29 ERA), who pitched very well last week against SJSU. The Zags start senior right-hander, Justin Vernia (1-0; 0.00 ERA).
Speaking of seniors, Gonzaga has a lot of them. And that might be the difference between these teams, as UCLA is laden with underclassmen. The final out of the game last night occurred with the tying run on third base. Gonzaga's senior closer faced a UCLA freshman in his 13th college at bat. Who do you think won that battle? Check swing strike out.
UCLA is paying tribute to the military this weekend. Each veteran and current member of the Armed Forces will receive multiple free game tickets. Maybe UCLA breaks out their camouflage uniforms for the game today.
This is your UCLA baseball versus Gonzaga Game Two open thread. Comment below if you dare!