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UCLA Rallies, Walks Off Oregon State

Apr 30, 2021
Max Rajcic (photo: Don Liebig)

LOS ANGELES – The UCLA baseball team overcame a four-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning and ultimately captured a 6-5 walk-off win thanks to a bases-loaded balk in the tenth in Friday night's series opener against Oregon State at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Trailing 5-1 heading into the last of the ninth and facing one of the top closers in the conference in Jake Mulholland, UCLA (24-13, 11-8 Pac-12) rallied back from the brink to tie it at 5-5 and send the game to extras.

The Bruins set the tinder for that ninth-inning rally with three consecutive one-out singles, and JT Schwartz worked a seven-pitch walk to force in the first run of the frame and make it 5-2.

UCLA quickly got down to its last strike as OSU's Jack Washburn got a three-pitch strikeout and then got pinch-hitter Jack Filby into a 1-2 count. But Washburn left his next pitch over the plate and Filby turned on it, lining it off the wall in right-center field for a bases-clearing and game-tying double.

UCLA closer Max Rajcic bent but didn't break in the top of the tenth, allowing two baserunners but bouncing back to escape with a zero.

The Bruins immediately applied pressure in the bottom half, with Kyle Karros leading off with a solid base hit followed by a four-pitch walk to Kevin Kendall. After a sac bunt by Kyle Cuellar moved both runners into scoring position, the Beavers (28-13, 10-6) opted to intentionally walk Matt McLain to load the bases.

That move backfired for OSU as Washburn flinched before coming set on his first pitch to freshman infielder Daylen Reyes, bringing in Karros from third for the walk-off run.

Friday marked UCLA's third walk-off win of the season, and Filby has figured prominently in all three. Before his clutch double, he worked bases-loaded walks to score the game-winning run in UCLA's previous two walk-offs.

The Bruins and Beavers had battled to a 1-1 tie through seven innings before the visitors pulled ahead in the eighth.

The late-inning rally by Oregon State spoiled a standout start for UCLA senior right-hander Zach Pettway, as the Long Beach, Calif. native surrendered just four hits and one run over six-plus innings.

Even the one run against was tough-luck, as OSU's Matthew Gretler top-spinned a ball that took an in-between hop in the 5-6 hole and deflected off UCLA third baseman Kyle Karros's glove and into shallow left field to score Troy Claunch from second base.

McLain and sophomore DH Josh Hahn teamed up to knot the score at 1-1 in the fourth. McLain led off the frame by working a seven-pitch walk then moved to third when Oregon State starter Kevin Abel skipped a pickoff throw to first base. That error paid off for UCLA as Hahn pounced on a breaking ball and sent it up the middle for an RBI single.

Three-hitter Andy Armstrong provided the big swing for OSU in the eighth. With two on and nobody out, Armstrong tried to sac the runners over but ended up in a two-strike count. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Armstrong instead lined one just over the head of Kyle Cuellar in left field to plate the go-ahead run.

Garret Forrester followed with a two-run triple into the right-center field gap to cap the three-spot.

The inning could have been worse for the Bruins as the Beavers went on to load the bases with nobody out, but UCLA nearly turned a triple play on the next batter – the runner at third held up on a fly ball to right but both trail runners tried to advance; UCLA got the runner going back to second and just missed getting the runner at first as well – and then ended the inning with a Daniel Colwell strikeout of Gretler.

Abel struck out eight but walked six over 4 1/3 innings for OSU, allowing just one unearned run. Will Frisch followed with 2 2/3 hit-free relief innings, but their bullpen struggled after that, allowing five runs over 2 1/3 combined innings.

UCLA and Oregon State continue the series on Saturday with another night game. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network.