UCLA faces Washington State today in the second game of a three game series. UCLA beat the Cougars 6-5 yesterday, holding on after a Cougar rally in the ninth. The No. 16 Bruins started Jake Bird who got the win after leaving in the sixth, having allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks.
Washington State scored a run in each of the first three innings to take an early 3-0 lead. But, the Bruins would rally in the bottom of the third to tie the game on an RBI single by Daniel Amaral that scored Jake Hirabayashi and a two-run double by Michael Toglia that scored Amaral and Ryan Kreidler.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Bruins took the lead when they scored three more runs. Chase Strumpf got the scoring started with an RBI double to left center and, two batters later, Jack Stronach drove Strumpf in with a single to right. Jake Pries added one more run on a Hirabayashi sacrifice fly.
The shaky Bruin bullpen was out in force as John Savage used six different pitchers over the remaining three innings. Despite the fact that the first five of those only went a 1⁄3 of an inning each, UCLA kept the Cougars off the board.
In the top of the ninth, Kyle Mora gave up a one-out home run to Justin Harrer and JJ Hancock followed that with a double to left center. James Rudkin moved Hancock to third with a single, giving the Cougs runners on the corners including the tying run on first. Derek Chapman pinch-ran for Rudkin and catcher Cal Waterman grounded out to move the runners up, scoring Hancock.
That left the Cougars with the tying run on second and two men out. Wyatt Segle pinch-hit for Danny Sinatro, but Segle popped up to end the game, earning Bird the win and Mora a 4-out save.
The Bruins plan on starting Freshman Zach Pettway today due to the injury to Jon Olsen. Pettway (3-0, 1.42 ERA) has been one of the best starters for the Bruins this year. He’s a talented young pitcher whose fastball can top 94 miles per hour. Pettway was not ranked particularly highly out of high school (68th ranked pitcher in the nation), but he has exceeded all expectations thus far.
Starting for Washington State is lefty Scotty Sunitsch. Scotty is the most experienced pitcher on the Washington State team and typically comes out of the bullpen but makes the occasional start. Last year he was 2-4 with 8 saves and a 4.17 ERA, his ERA is 3.38 after 16 innings of work this year.
This game seems like it should go the Bruins way, they’re playing one of the worst teams in the conference, have an advantage in every tangible area, and are playing an impressive young pitcher. That being said, as we all know, these things are not so easily predictable and a loss to this sub-par Washington State team could really hurt the Bruins going forward.
This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Washington Cougars Saturday baseball open thread.