UCLA Notches 3-2 Walk-Off Win Over Arizona in Pac-12 Opener
LOS ANGELES – The No. 11-ranked UCLA baseball team posted a 3-2 walk-off win over No. 17 Arizona on Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, with junior Jack Filby drawing a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth to plate the game-winning run.
It was the second time this season that Filby drew a walk to produce a walk-off win for the Bruins (11-5, 1-0 Pac-12), as he also earned a bases-loaded walk to defeat UC Irvine on Feb. 26. Both times, Filby walked on four consecutive pitches out of the zone.
UCLA entered the late innings nursing a 2-0 lead, but watched Arizona (12-5, 0-1) tie the game on a two-run home run from Jacob Blas with two outs in the eighth.
The Bruins didn't wait long to break the deadlock, rallying to score in the ninth and end the game in regulation.
Sophomore first baseman JT Schwartz sparked the rally, drawing a four-pitch walk to lead off the frame. Sophomore right fielder Michael Curialle put the Bruins in business two batters later, as he legged out a high chopper over the mound for a single, with both runners moving up a base after Arizona second baseman Kobe Kato's throw to first got away.
The Wildcats then elected to intentionally walk junior catcher Noah Cardenas, setting up Filby's pinch-hit base on balls.
"We're fortunate on that [Curialle] ground ball, we go second and third there, and then Filby does a nice job of doing what he does," said UCLA head coach John Savage. "He sees the ball really well at the plate, no panic, and fortunately we came away with a win on Friday night."
The Bruins opened the game's scoring with two runs in the fourth. The rally started after junior middle infielders Mikey Perez and Matt McLain both reached, the former on a line drive single that just escaped the leaping glove of Blas at shortstop, and the latter on a solid base hit to left that went for a double after the Arizona left fielder slipped while charging the ball. A bases-loaded, bloop single from Curialle later in the inning cashed in both those runners.
The three runs for UCLA held up due to a standout performance on the mound from a trio of Bruin pitchers, led by starter Zach Pettway.
The senior right-hander, making his third start of the year, allowed just three hits while striking out six over five scoreless innings. It was his longest start of the year so far.
The Wildcats only put Pettway in danger once, following a leadoff double from Daniel Susac in the third. Pettway stranded the runner though, inducing a pop-up on an attempted Arizona squeeze and later getting some help from Cardenas, who back-picked Susac on a first-and-third play to end the inning.
Sophomore righty Jared Karros followed with 2 2/3 solid innings of relief, allowing just one hit. He and Pettway combined to retire 13 consecutive Wildcats from the fourth through eighth innings.
Junior righty Sean Mullen earned the win to improve to 4-0 on the year. He bounced back after allowing the game-tying homer in the eighth, striking out three-hitter Ryan Holgate to the end the inning, then fanning a pair as part of a scoreless ninth.
Arizona starter Chase Silseth struck out nine over 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs. Right-handed reliever Preston Price absorbed the loss for the Wildcats, evening his season record at 1-1.
UCLA and Arizona continue the three-game series on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The contest will be streamed live on UCLABruins.com and the Pac-12 Now app.