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Bruins Rally in Ninth to Even WSU Series

May 8, 2021
Kevin Kendall (Photo: Rod Commons/WSU Athletics)

PULLMAN, Wash. – The No. 25-ranked UCLA baseball team rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth to claim a 7-6 comeback win over Washington State on Saturday afternoon at Bailey-Brayton Field.

The victory evened the series for the Bruins (26-15, 13-10 Pac-12), who nearly doubled up on the Cougars (23-18, 10-13) in the hit column, 15-8.

The hosts led by a score of 5-3 heading into the eighth inning on Saturday, but the Bruins potted a single run in the top of the eighth to make it a one-run game, then sent nine batters to the plate as part of the go-ahead rally in the ninth.

Senior outfielders Pat Caulfield and Kyle Cuellar provided the run-scoring hits for the Bruins during the rally. Caulfield – who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh – cashed in a pair of runners in scoring position after scorching a roller back up the middle that made it 6-6.

Caulfield would eventually move to third on a JT Schwartz bloop single and Jake Moberg hit-by-pitch, then came across for the eventual game-winning run as Cuellar top-spun one into shallow right field for an RBI single. Cuellar's knock was UCLA's fourth hit of the frame, and he was the sixth to reach base.

The Cougars responded with a leadoff single to start the bottom half of the ninth, but UCLA freshman closer Max Rajcic recovered after that to get the next three batters in a row and seal the win. The scoreless frame earned Rajcic his fourth save of the year.

UCLA had led early on in the contest after scoring a single run in the first to make it 1-0 followed by a two-spot in the third that made it 3-1, but WSU went ahead in the bottom of the fourth on a three-run Kyle Manzardo home run that chased Bruin starter Sean Mullen from the game.

The Bruins continued to apply offensive pressure after falling behind, but couldn't come up with a big hit until the late-inning rallies. Six separate Bruins had multiple hits in the contest – including JT Schwartz who was 2-2, scored three runs, and reached base in all six of his plate appearances – but UCLA ultimately left 18 runners on base.

Senior righty Michael Townsend earned the win for UCLA after tossing a scoreless eighth inning. Adrian Chaidez was also strong out of the 'pen, giving up just one hit over 1 2/3 innings (including a 1-2-3 seventh).

Eight different pitchers were used on Saturday by WSU, with the Bruins scoring against six of them. The Cougars also committed four errors in the contest, tied for the most in a single game by a Bruin opponent this season.

UCLA and Washington State conclude the series with a Sunday rubber match starting at 1:05 p.m.