Apparently, last night was a night for pitchers’ duels. Not only did the UCLA Softball team come out ahead of Ole Miss in their NCAA Super Regional game 1-0, but the UCLA Baseball team also found themselves in one, too.
Unfortunately, in that one, the Bruins were on the short end of the matchup, losing 2-1.
UCLA starter Jake Bird held the Ducks scoreless until the bottom of the 5th. Bird hit leadoff batter AJ Balta with a pitch and the Ducks’ Jake Bennett laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Balta to second. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Morgan McCullough.
They would add an insurance run in the bottom of the 7th to make it 2-0, Ducks.
The Bruins were down, but they weren’t out yet. In the top of the 8th, UCLA rallied. With one out, Jack Stronach drew a walk to give the Bruins just their fourth baserunner of the game. John Savage sent Curtis Godin in to pinch run for Stronach. Godin promptly stole second and Ryan Kriedler walked to give UCLA runners on first and second with just one out.
Savage lifted Daniel Rosica for pinch-hitter Zander Clarke whie the Ducks went to the pen and brought in Kenyon Yovan to pitch to Clarke.
Savage called for a double steal to move the runners over. That play resulted in a throwing error that scored Godin and moved Kriedler to third. But, before Kriedler could tie the game up, Clarke fouled out and Brett Stephens struck out in a 7-pitch at-bat to end the inning.
That turned out to be the Bruins’ last gasp as they went down in order in the ninth to finish the game.
Jake Bird (5-4) took the loss for the Bruins and Matt Mercer (6-7) picked up the win for the Ducks. Yovan earned his 15th save of the season.
With the loss, UCLA can will finish conference play in third place. The only question is whether they will tie for third or claim it outright. A win today or an Arizona loss today or tomorrow will give the Bruins a sole claim to third.
The Bruins will again look to get to the 30-win mark for the season this afternoon in the rubber match of the three-game series. Jon Olsen (6-1, 3.12 ERA) will take to the hill for UCLA while sophomore lefty Cole Stringer (4-2, 3.36 ERA) goes for the Ducks.
After today’s game, the Bruins will come home and wait for the NCAA Selection Show on Monday morning to find out if they have made the postseason. A win today certainly wouldn’t hurt.