Sunday, October 22

Bruin baseball gets first sweep of the season

Celebratory chants carried from the UCLA baseball team’s clubhouse nestled in the northwestern corner of Jackie Robinson Stadium. This is exactly what the Bruins have been waiting for.

After being plagued by an early-season 10-game losing streak, the UCLA baseball team has created a more productive and satisfying rhythm for itself this weekend.

The Bruins (17-19, 9-6 Pac-10) defeated the visiting Huskies (14-22, 4-8) by a tally of 6-3 Sunday afternoon, completing their first series sweep of the season. UCLA defeated Washington 4-2 on Friday and 13-0 Saturday.

“It gets us back in the playoff picture,” coach John Savage said. “We’ve responded to a tough schedule and some adversity and really stepped up this week.”

Runs were exchanged between the two Pac-10 teams throughout Sunday’s game leading up to the seventh-inning stretch. The score rested at 2-2 entering the bottom on the seventh before the Bruins started frequenting the base paths.

Sophomore shortstop Niko Gallego doubled on the first pitch of his at-bat.

Senior second baseman Eddie Murray then singled to right, bringing Gallego home from second base. After junior right fielder Justin Uribe walked on a full count, junior center fielder Blair Dunlap belted a three-run homer to left center, his fifth on the season and second of the weekend.

The Bruins muscled four runs on four hits in the inning, putting them ahead 6-2 with a lead they would not relinquish.

Junior right-hander Charles Brewer went 6 1/3 innings for the Bruins in the series finale, allowing only one earned run on seven hits. He struck out eight batters and issued no walks.

UCLA has now won seven of the last nine games and is riding a four-game win streak. The Bruins defeated No. 15 San Diego State in their midweek game earlier this week, perhaps signaling a shift in UCLA’s pattern of play.

“We really turned it around this week,” Gallego said. “This is going to be huge for us as we play these next few weeks.”

Starting pitching, especially from freshmen Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, once again proved to be one of the Bruins most valuable assets. Over the course of the weekend, they allowed just two runs between them, both of which were unearned. In his sixth win of the season, Bauer pitched a one-hit complete-game shutout on Saturday and was the first Bruin to pitch a complete game since Tim Murphy’s nine-inning performance last season.

Savage said Cole and Bauer have adjusted remarkably fast to the college game in their inaugural seasons as Bruins. Making the transition from high school to college baseball has a taxing effect on most freshmen ball players but hasn’t fazed the young pitchers.

“It’s an eye-opener,” Savage said. “You don’t see guys like that come around very often.”

The Bruins see their performance this week as a catalyst for change that will hopefully promote more wins down the road.

“This does so much for our morale and confidence and trust in each other,” Gallego said. “This week has been huge for us.”

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