The Greatest Coach of All Time once said, “Be your best when your best is needed.” Last night, the UCLA baseball team (13-3) heeded the words of the legendary John Wooden, thoroughly outplaying the defending national champion Oregon State Beavers (13-2-1) in all facets of the game, beating OSU by the score of 8-0.
UCLA outhit Oregon State, had better plate discipline, played better defense, pitched better, and was more aggressive on the base paths.
The Bruins pounced on the Beavers early in the bottom of the second inning. Michael Toglia led off the inning with a single. After Matt McLain flew out, Toglia stole second while Kevin Kendall was at bat, and Kendall, who has not been hitting well, promptly singled through the right side, scoring Toglia, and putting the Bruins up, 1-0.
The Bruins added two more to the tally in the bottom of the third. Garrett Mitchell led off with a double, but was only able to get to third with two outs. Jack Stronach came to the plate and drove a 1-1 pitch over the right field wall, for a two-run home run and the Bruins lead was now 3-0.
Stronach would drive in another run in the bottom of the fifth inning, on a sacrifice fly to right center field. Bruins, 4-0.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bruins exploded, doubling their advantage. UCLA loaded the bases with just one out, care of a couple of singles by Ryan Kreidler and Chase Strumpf, and a four pitch walk to Stronach. Head Coach John Savage chose to pinch hit with Jarron Silva and it turned out to be the right call as Silva singled to center and the Bruins went up 5-0. Toglia then singled home Strumpf. Bruins, 6-0. The merry-go-round continued as McLain legged out an infield single, putting the Bruins up by seven and leaving the bases still loaded. Kendall completed the UCLA scoring in the seventh with a sacrifice fly that not only made it 8-0, Bruins, it also left Beaver nation a little shell-shocked.
As UCLA was racking up eight runs on twelve hits, UCLA’s Friday ace Zach Pettway was having, arguably, the best outing of his UCLA career. Pettway threw seven innings, only allowed three hits, all of them to the Beavers’ third baseman George Mendazona, no runs, two walks, and eight strikeouts. He was involved in a defensive gem of a play with Toglia. Pettway deservedly earned his first win of the season, after some tough luck no decisions.
Kyle Mora came on to pitch two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth, allowing only a two-out single in the eighth inning.
In general, UCLA played stellar defense on the night, making several tough plays look routine. They were aggressive on the base paths. They pitched. They hit. They played like a team that could contend. They looked the better team. It was awesome. But, as anyone who follows baseball knows, things could be completely reversed today.
Still, it was a big win for the Bruins who will now seek the series win this evening. It’s a later than usual Saturday game at Jackie Robinson Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled to be thrown at 6 pm PT. Jack Ralston (3-0, 1.96 ERA) will take the hill for UCLA. The Beavers will counter with Bryce Fehmel (3-0, 3.12 ERA), who defeated the Bruins in his Saturday start last season, 4-1, in Corvalis. It should be fun!
This is your UCLA baseball versus Oregon State Beavers game two open thread. Let us know your thoughts on the game.