Bruins Drop Friday Contest at Oregon, 5-3
EUGENE, Ore. – The UCLA baseball team was narrowly edged by No. 13 Oregon, 5-3, in Friday night's Pac-12 series opener at PK Park.
The contest was a pitcher's duel early, with the score sitting at 1-1 at the conclusion of the sixth inning. Oregon (23-8, 9-4 Pac-12) went ahead for good with a four-run rally in the seventh and weathered a ninth-inning charge from UCLA (22-12, 9-7).
Trailing by four heading into the ninth, the Bruins' comeback hopes looked like they had a spark after the first four batters of the frame reached base – Kevin Kendall, Pat Caulfield, and Matt McLain all singled to score a run, then JT Schwartz worked a walk – which loaded the bases and put the tying run on first with nobody out.
It looked like the rally would continue as the next batter, Mikey Perez, ripped a liner down the left field line that ultimately landed just foul. That liner would have likely scored a pair and put the tying run on third with still nobody out, but instead Oregon closer Kolby Somers recovered and retired the next three batters in order to escape with the win.
Friday's matchup had all the makings of a pitcher's duel with both starters – right-hander Zach Pettway for UCLA and southpaw Robert Ahlstrom for Oregon – dealing through the middle innings.
The Bruins drew first blood in the contest, as freshman third baseman Kyle Karros led off the third inning with a single through the 5-6 hole and later scored on a Caulfield sac fly. Ahlstrom rounded into shape after that nick though, retiring 17 in a row before allowing the three singles to open the ninth.
Pettway meanwhile was cruising through the first half of the game, facing the minimum through the end of the fifth inning and striking out five over that span.
The Ducks eventually got to him in the sixth – parlaying a leadoff double from Sam Novitske into a game-tying run – before potting four runs in their decisive seventh-inning rally.
With a pair of base hits, Kendall led the way offensively for UCLA. Caulfield, McLain, and Noah Cardenas all had a hit and an RBI.
Junior lefty Daniel Colwell didn't allow a hit in 1 1/3 innings of relief, and helped end the Ducks' rally in the seventh with a standout effort on a play at the plate; after a pitch squirted away from Cardenas, Colwell streaked towards home, made an on-the-run catch of a Cardenas flip, successfully blocked the plate, then laid the tag on Novitske to prevent a run and end the inning.
UCLA looks to even the series tomorrow afternoon, with first pick from PK Park scheduled for 2:00 p.m.