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UCLA Rallies to Defeat Cal, 9-7

May 28, 2022
Daniel Colwell (photo: Jason Digos Jr.)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – No. 3 seed UCLA rallied late to record a 9-7 win over California in 10 innings on Friday night at Scottsdale Stadium as part of the inaugural Pac-12 Baseball Tournament.

With the win, the Bruins (37-21) will now face No. 2 seed Oregon State in the divisional final on Saturday. UCLA needs to defeat the Beavers twice to reach Sunday's Championship Game.

Cal (29-27) was eliminated from tourney play.

The two teams went back and forth in the early innings, resulting in a 7-5 lead for Cal after four innings. The game settled down after that, but the Bruins managed to rally for a pair in the eighth to send the game into extras, and then put up another two-spot in the tenth to finish off the comeback result.

Each starter had at least one hit for the Bruins, who totaled 15 knocks as a team. Particular standouts included freshman shortstop Ethan Gourson (2-4, two walks, team-high three RBIs), graduate first baseman Jake Palmer (2-4, three runs, two RBIs), and junior right fielder Michael Curialle (3-5, two RBIs).

The Bruin bullpen allowed for the comeback possibility with a lockdown performance down the stretch, as Jake Saum, Daniel Colwell, and Luke Jewett combined to allow just three hits and no earned runs over 6 2/3 innings.

Colwell was especially impressive, retiring all 10 batters he faced before making way for Jewett with one out in the eighth. Jewett allowed just a pair of singles from then until the end of the game.

Palmer, Curialle, and Gourson were all instrumental in UCLA's late-game rallies.

In the eighth, Palmer drilled a liner into the left-center gap for a double that scored JonJon Vaughns from first base and brought the Bruins within one. After a sac bunt got Palmer to third, Curialle reached out and poked an outside pitch over the drawn-in shortstop's head for a game-tying single.

Then in the tenth, Palmer led off the frame with a bad-hop single and once again moved up on a sac bunt. After a walk to Curialle, Gourson ripped an 0-1 change-up into center field to plate Palmer for the go-ahead and game-winning run. Kyle Karros followed that up by smashing a liner into right to bring in another run and close the game's scoring.

Gourson was at the center of UCLA's biggest rally of the early innings as well, scorching a liner that rolled all the way to the wall in left-center for a two-run triple as part of a three-run fourth inning that briefly gave the Bruins a 5-3 advantage.

Vaughns, making his first start since May 8, was a standout on both sides of the ball. On offense, he went 2-3 with a walk and a sac bunt. Defensively, he made possibly the play of the tournament in the fifth inning, making an over-the-shoulder catch at the fence in left field before uncorking a two-hop laser from the warning track to first base that nearly doubled off a runner.

Game one on Saturday between the Bruins and Beavers is set to begin at approximately 1:00 p.m. (the game will begin 45 minutes after the conclusion of the 9:00 a.m. contest between Stanford and Arizona). Should the Bruins win that contest, they will face OSU again on Saturday night (time TBD), with the winner advancing to the Championship Game.