After a pitching duel last night that saw the UCLA Baseball team and the Michigan Wolverines go scoreless into the bottom of the 9th inning, the Bruins played ultimate UCLA small ball to push across the winning run, 1-0, in the lower half of the final frame. The Bruins improve to 5-3; Michigan falls to 7-3.
Whenever Griffin Canning takes the mound, you know it is going to be a pitchers’ duel and the narrative held true last night. Canning threw eight innings of no run, three hit ball, but UCLA could not get him a single run. Canning struck out 12 in the no decision, matching his career high and matching the number of strikeouts he recorded in his last start.
On the season, Canning has pitched 21 scoreless innings, striking out 32. He has not recorded a victory in three starts. UCLA has just not scored runs on Friday nights.
In the bottom of the 9th, UCLA freshman second baseman, Chase Strumpf, led off the inning with a double to left center field. Jake Hirabayashi pinch ran for Strumpf, bringing Brett Stephens to the plate.
Stephens, attempting to sacrifice Hirabayashi over to third, laid down a bunt that was fielded by Michigan’s pitcher, reliever Tommy Henry. Henry, trying to cut down Hirabayashi at third, threw the ball away, allowing Hirabayashi to score. E-1. Walk off. 1-0 UCLA. Game over. Bruins win. Unreal.
I have to eat crow and I will gladly do so. Although I correctly predicted that UCLA wouldn’t support Canning with any runs, I also predicted that UCLA’s bullpen would spit the bit, and lose the game.
They did not. To their credit, Justin Hooper and Brian Gadsby, who have had some tough personal results in UCLA’s losses this season, held Michigan scoreless in top of the 9th to keep it 0-0 after Canning left the game, leading to UCLA’s opportunity to win it with a single "bread stick" in the bottom half of the inning.
Earlier in the game, in the 5th inning, UCLA had an opportunity to blow the game open with the hot hitting Sean Bouchard at the plate. The Bruins had loaded up the bases with two outs. Sean struck out looking on an 0-2 count, and the score remained 0-0.
Today, UCLA faces the University of San Diego at Jackie Robinson Stadium at 2 p.m. PT. The Toreros beat our foes down the 10 freeway last night, 8-3, at Southern Cal’s Dedeaux Field. USD improves to 5-2. Southern Cal, UCLA’s opponent at Dodger Stadium on Sunday (3 p.m. PT start), falls to to 6-3 and will play Michigan today.
Looking at ERA and experience alone, today’s pitching match-up appears to favor UCLA. The Bruins’ starter, junior Jake Bird, has pitched very well this season, starting both Saturday games and sporting a cool 0.69 ERA. UCLA has not supported Bird with runs though. Sound familiar? Conversely, USD’s starting pitcher, freshman lefty, Chris Murphy, has a 5.14 ERA. Advantage Bruins?
Neither pitcher has a decision this season. Both are 0-0.
First pitch is at 2 p.m. PT. Although there is no TV for the game, for me, there is nothing better than listening to John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm call a UCLA game on a Saturday afternoon. Listen to them on UCLA’s live streaming audio feed. Follow along with live stats as well.
This is your UCLA Bruin Baseball versus University of San Diego Toreros open thread.