Clouds hung over Jackie Robinson Stadium on Saturday, threatening a rainstorm and stopping play in the fourth inning.
After San Francisco sophomore Stephen Yarrow singled to left field in the top of the ninth inning, both the odds that the UCLA baseball team would hold on to its 4-1 lead and the chances that the rain would hold off looked slim.
Enter UCLA’s true freshman closer Nick Vander Tuig in his first appearance as a Bruin. Couple that with a UCLA victory courtesy of a Vander Tuig save and a torrential downpour all coming within minutes of each other and the Bruins were able to escape with a 4-1 win.
“I was nervous in the bullpen but I knew once I got out there I would be fine,” Vander Tuig said. “I just focused on the hitter and I’m happy to get that first pitch in.”
The right-handed Vander Tuig took over for junior left-handed reliever Mitchell Beacom, who faced only one batter in relief of junior All-American starter Trevor Bauer. Bauer only allowed two hits and struck out 10, throwing 118 pitches in the process.
Vander Tuig, who committed to UCLA as a high school junior and missed his senior season after Tommy John surgery, has taken on the closing duties for the Bruins with the loss of Dan Klein to the Major League Baseball draft.
“Nick pitched like a veteran today coming out of the bullpen,” coach John Savage said. “Those were some quiet last few outs and you want quiet outs. You want the game to go away slowly.”
UCLA doubled their hits from Friday’s game against USF, totaling eight on Saturday. Five of those eight hits came from sophomore Jeff Gelalich and junior Tyler Rahmatulla, UCLA’s No. 2 and 3 hitters. Gelalich went three for three Saturday and manufactured UCLA’s third run all on his own.
After singling up the middle, Gelalich stole second and third base and proceeded to score on a throwing error by USF catcher Travis Higgs, a sequence that Savage likened to MLB great Rickey Henderson.
“I talked with coach (Rick) Vanderhook before the game about the approach I wanted to take and I was able to stick with that and concentrate on what I wanted,” Gelalich said. “I was lucky enough to put a good swing on it.”
The Bruins will look to pick up the three-game sweep tomorrow when they face the Dons Sunday at 1 p.m. UCLA true freshman right-hander Adam Plutko will get his first career start.
UCLA and Savage agreed to a contract extension Tuesday that will keep him at UCLA until 2015.
“I’m elated to be at UCLA. I’m very honored and humble to be at UCLA,” Savage said. “I couldn’t be working for a better guy in Dan Guerrero. I worked for him at UC Irvine and I was fortunate enough to get the job at UCLA and I’m proud to be a Bruin and I want to be a Bruin for the rest of my career.”
Savage said Saturday that sophomore right-handed pitcher Scott Griggs would start for the Bruins Tuesday against Pepperdine. The Tuesday starter has been a question mark for UCLA’s pitching rotation since Garett Claypool graduated after last season.
Friday and Saturday’s games were moved forward because of rain. Check Twitter.com/DBsports for updates on changes in Sunday’s game time.