In a wild game last night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, the UCLA Bruins baseball team (29-6, 10-3 Pac-12) came back from a 7-3 deficit, edging UC Berkeley (19-13, 7-6) in the most painful way possible, at least if you are a Berkeley fan: a bases-loaded, two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth inning to break a 7-7 tie.
UCLA celebrated. Berkeley wondered how they could have squandered a game which they appeared to be in control through 41⁄2 innings.
Once again, UCLA starter Zach Pettway had control problems, serving up several pitches right over the meat of the plate and giving up a solo home run to Korey Lee in the first inning, a three-run home run to Quentin Selma in the fifth inning and another home run, this one a two-bagger, to Lee again in the fifth inning.
In addition to the six runs scored off of home runs, Andrew Vaughn also singled home a runner with two outs in the third inning. In the end, Pettway threw 41⁄3 innings, gave up eight hits, and allowed seven earned runs. His ERA skyrocketed to 4.55. Yet, he did not get the loss.
The Bruins led after four innings, scoring a run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly, and getting a two-run home run by Jake Pries in the bottom of the fourth inning, putting UCLA up 3-2.
The lead was short-lived as the Golden Bears put up a five spot in the top of the fifth inning, flipping the script to take a 7-3 lead, on the aforementioned three-run homer by Selma and Lee’s second dinger of the game, a two-run shot. Lee’s bomb sent Pettway to the showers.
UCLA loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fifth inning on a Kevin Kendall pinch-hit double, a Noah Cardenas single, and a Garrett Mitchell walk. That brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Ryan Kreidler. Unfortunately, Kreidler struck out on a check swing on a inside pitch. Strumpf followed with a first pitch line drive down the left field line for a two-RBI single, cutting Berkeley’s lead to 7-5.
Pries came to the plate and, on a 3-1 strike, UCLA executed a double steal, putting Mitchell on third and Strumpf on second. The 3-2 pitch was low and Pries took his base, loading the bases again. But Michael Toglia popped out and Jack Stronach flew out to center field, ending the inning with UCLA getting only two runs on the Strumpf single and leaving the bases loaded.
Meanwhile, reliever Jack Filby kept the Bruins in the game, striking out the last two batters in the brutal fifth inning and retiring the side in order in the top of the sixth.
But UCLA, once again, left runners on base in the bottom of the sixth, this time stranding two, and wasting a Cardenas walk and a Mitchell single.
With UCLA’s Nate Hadley taking over on the mound, UC Berkeley almost extended its lead in the seventh inning, but UCLA center fielder Matt McLain picked an Andrew Vaughn rocket off the yellow line at the top of the wall in center field. It could have been a two-run home run. It could have been a run-scoring double. Tough to tell. Either way, it was a great catch by McLain, Hadley induced another fly out to McLain and the score remained 7-5 as the teams went into the seventh inning stretch.
After UCLA went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, Kyle Mora took over pitching duties for the Bruins. The Golden Bears put two runners on in the eighth inning, but couldn’t cash in any runs.
In the bottom half of the frame, Stronach singled under the glove of the shortstop to start thing off for the Bruins. McLain drilled a grounder down the third base line for double, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Kendall singled up the middle, scoring Stronach and cutting the Berkeley lead to 7-6 with runners on first and third with no outs.
After the Golden Bears made a pitching change, Cardenas popped out in foul territory to the catcher. After a Kendall stolen base and a Garrett Mitchell walk, Kreidler came up to the dish with the sacks loaded for the second time in the game. This time, Kreidler took one for the team when he was hit by a high and inside pitch, tying the game.
Strumpf came to the dish with a 7-7 score and three ducks on the pond. Chase worked a full count, fouled a few pitches off and. then, was caught looking on a breaking ball he wasn’t expecting. Pries flied out and UCLA, again, left the bases loaded.
In the ninth, Holden Powell walked the lead-off batter, bringing Vaughn to the plate. But Powell struck him out swinging on a beautiful curve ball. Then, Powell struck out the next two Golden Bears, both swinging, to end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Stronach stroked a one-out single to shallow center field. McLain came to the dish, but struck out looking. After Kendall drew a walk, Cardenas was hit by a pitch, once again loading the bases with two outs. Up came Mitchell who worked a full count. The payoff pitch was low resulting in a walk-off walk.
Final: UCLA 8, UC Berkeley 7.
It was a crazy game and one that both teams could have won. The Bruins should consider themselves very lucky to get the “W.” Powell gets credit for the win and Berkeley’s Sean Sullivan suffered the loss.
Tonight, Jack Ralston (5-0, 3.20 ERA) will take the mound for the Bruins, while the Golden Bears will counter with Jared Horn (2-1, 2.03 ERA). UCLA seeks the series win, while the Golden Bears will look to even the series. First pitch is at 7 pm PT and the game will be televised nationally on the Pac-12 Network and locally on Pac-12 Los Angeles.
This is your UCLA Bruin baseball versus UC Berkeley game two open thread.