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UCLA Baseball: Bruins Fall to Mustangs, 6-5, Seek to Even Series Today
A perfect storm of UCLA's pitching, fielding, and hitting mistakes combined to sink the Bruins versus Cal Poly last night in a game UCLA probably should have won.
The #6 UCLA baseball team will look to even the series today at Cal Poly, after the Bruins botched the contest and fell by the score of 6-5 last night. It was a winnable game, but some uncharacteristic mistakes by the Bruins cost them the game. First pitch today as at 6 pm PT.
Last Time Out
Zach Pettway continued with his transition to being fully healthy last night and left the game after four innings with UCLA clinging to a 3-2 lead. Pettway allowed two hits and two runs in his four innings.
UCLA got on the board with one run in the top of the first inning, care of a JT Schwartz RBI single. It is good to see Schwartz healthy and back in the UCLA lineup, as he is hitting .727 (8 for 11).
The Bruins extended their lead to 3-0 in the top of the third inning. With one out, Kevin Kendall singled, followed by a walk to Jarron Silva. Matt McLain singled home Kendall but, during JT Schwartz’s at-bat, Silva was picked off of third base. It was critical because Schwartz doubled, scoring McLain and it would have also scored Silva had he not been picked off.
Cal Poly countered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, care of two walks followed by a triple. The Bruins still led by one.
With the score 3-2 and Jared Karros on in relief for Pettway, the wheels came off the bus. After Karros retired the side in order in the fifth inning, he got into serious trouble in the sixth inning. After a lead-off double and a line out, Karros allowed three straight singles followed by a walk. That flipped the script and the Bruins 3-2 lead became a 4-3 deficit. It could have been worse, but UCLA reliever Jake Brooks fended off further damage by inducing a bases-loaded double play to end the inning.
The Bruins even the scored in the eighth inning on a single, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a fielder’s choice, but Cal Poly answered with a run of theire own in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs and runners on the corners, Kyle Mora induced a routine ground ball to shortstop, which should have ended the threat. McLain, however, could not handle the baseball and it dribbled into left field, scoring what would hold up as the game-winning run.
UCLA wasted a leadoff walk to Mikey Perez in the ninth inning. Kyle Karros tried to bunt Perez over to second, but could not lay down the sacrifice on three straight pitches. Kendall struck out swinging for the second out and pinch hitter Jack Filby struck out looking to end the game.
UCLA will send Jessie Bergin to the mound today. Bergin (2-1, 1.72 ERA) has had two good outings and one poor outing sandwiched in between them. I think that poor outing on the road against UC Irvine was an anomaly. Hopefully, Bergin will perform better on the road today.
Cal Poly will counter with the left-hander Travis Weston (1-1, 1.96 ERA). Weston has started three games and performed well in two of them. In the third, he got touched up by Southern Cal for six hits, four runs, three of them earned, in 3-1/3 innings, but got the no decision. Last weekend, he was masterful, throwing a complete game versus Utah State, allowing only two hits and one run while striking out eleven.
Last night, UCLA lost a very winnable game against a solid Cal Poly squad. The difference, in my opinion, was that the Bruins couldn’t execute in critical moments in all three phases of the game.
As far as pitching was concerned, Jared Karros had an awful sixth inning and, in the 20/20 vision that hindsight brings, head coach John Savage probably should have pulled him earlier.
In the field, McLain made a critical error on a play he makes 99% of the time, allowing what turned out to be the game-winning run to score. If McLain makes that play, the inning is over and the score is still tied.
Finally, at the plate, UCLA had the tying run on first base with no outs in the ninth inning. Kyle Karros was asked to bunt. He failed to do so on three consecutive pitches, and the game ended with the runner still on first base. Of course, Silva getting picked off in the third inning also cost UCLA a run.
The point is, UCLA did not execute in multiple critical moments yesterday. Due to their talent, UCLA can get away with miscues here and there, but three miscues in all three facets of the game was too much for the Bruins to overcome yesterday. It was a “perfect storm” of a failure to execute. Given UCLA’s pedigree under Coach Savage, I do not expect these type of results to be common.
I expect Bergin to have a strong outing today and for UCLA to force a rubber match for the series win tomorrow. I think Weston will also be strong for the Mustangs, resulting in a low scoring game.
#6 UCLA Baseball (9-4)
Opponent: Cal Poly Mustangs (7-4)
Game Time: 6:00 pm PT, Saturday, March 13, 2021
Where: Baggett Stadium, San Luis Obispo, CA
Projected Pitching Matchup:
UCLA - Jesse Bergin, RHP, Jr. (2-1, 1.72 ERA)
CP - Travis Weston, LHP, So. (1-1, 1.96 ERA)
This is your UCLA baseball at Cal Poly Mustangs game two open thread.