The UCLA Bruin baseball team (21-6, 7-3 Pac-12) lost a tense, tight game last night to the Stanford Cardinal, by the score of 3-2. UCLA will try to even the series today, while Stanford will seek the series win, which would likely make the Cardinal the new #1 when next week’s rankings come out, regardless of what happens tomorrow. First pitch is at 2:05 pm PT.
Stanford got got on the board early, dinging UCLA starter Zach Pettway with a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. As he has done in recent starts, Pettway then settled in a had a very nice game, throwing 72⁄3 innings and only allowing two runs. the second of which came in the bottom of the eighth with two outs and Pettway running out of gas.
The problem was that Stanford’s starter Brandon Beck stymied the Bruins for most of the night as well, holding UCLA without any runs until the ninth inning.
It was a classic pitchers’ duel, with both pitchers putting up goose eggs from the second through the seventh innings. That’s not to say that both teams didn’t have opportunities.
UCLA had a number of chances to score:
- UCLA could not cash in a lead-off double in the first inning;
- The Bruins could not score off a lead-off double in the third inning;
- UCLA had runners on first and second with one out in the fourth inning and could not plate either runner;
- The Bruins had the bases load in the eighth inning with only one out.
Stanford had its chances too:
- The Cardinal had two on and one out in the third and did not score;
- Stanford wasted a lead-off double in the fourth inning;
- The Cardinal had two on with two outs in the sixth inning and could not push a run across; and
- Stanford wasted another lead off double.
So, with it still 1-0 and with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Stanford finally got a clutch hit and scored an insurance run. With two outs, a single and a double down the right field line made the score, 2-0, going into the ninth inning.
UCLA answered the bell in the top of the ninth. After a Michael Toglia walk and a Jack Filby pinch-hit single, Ryan Kreidler doubled down the left field line, scoring Toglia. RJ Teijeiro pinch-hit and delivered an RBI “single.” It was really a routine fly ball that dropped between Stanford’s left fielder and center fielder, but it looks like a line drive in the box score and, even if it was caught, pinch-runner Mikey Perez would have tagged and scored anyway.
After executing a double steal, the Bruins had the go-ahead run on third and another runner on second with only one out, but couldn’t plate another run, leaving the score 2-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth. UCLA needed another clutch hit and didn’t get one.
In the bottom of the ninth, Stanford got that clutch hit. Kyle Mora came in to pitch. He struck out the first batter, but third-string catcher Teijeiro could not handle the pitch, allowing the runner to advance to first base. Mora, then, struck out the next batter. After a stolen base, a fly out, and an intentional walk to create possible force outs at all three bags, Mora walked another Stanford batter, loading the bases with two outs (again, it should have been three if not for the strikeout/passed ball).
With Mora struggling to find the plate, he was forced to throw a strike on a 2-0 count and it was laced into left field, ending the game on a walk-off, two-out single.
It was a tough loss for the Bruins, but the game showed how evenly matched these two teams are. The difference in the game was one clutch hit. Or one passed ball on a strikeout. UCLA essentially needed four outs in the bottom of the ninth, but only got three.
UCLA needs to bounce back today to avoid what would be its first series loss of the season. Jack Ralston (4-0, 2.66 ERA) will take the hill tonight for UCLA. Stanford will counter with lefthander, Jacob Palisch (2-0, 4.94 ERA). Palisch has a high ERA but, unlike last night’s starter, Beck, Palisch has gotten better run support from the Stanford offense. UCLA has done pretty well against lefties this season. So, we’ll see how it shakes out.
This is your UCLA baseball versus Stanford Cardinal game two open thread.