With three straight losses to start the week, salvaging the final two games of the weekend was a must for the UCLA baseball team.
And that’s exactly what the Bruins did.
A 5-1 loss to start the series off against Cal State Bakersfield didn’t bode well for UCLA. But in typical Trevor Bauer fashion, the junior pitcher threw his seventh complete game of the season on Saturday to secure an emphatic 10-1 win for the Bruins to even the series. A nail-biting 3-2 victory on Sunday ensured the Bruins a series win over the Roadrunners.
Bauer said he was disappointed with his performance in the middle innings of Saturday’s game, saying he got too emotional and lacked concentration. That’s easy to imagine when you consider that the eight runs that the No. 24 Bruins (29-19) posted in the third inning marked the highest run total in a single inning all year.
The five-time Pac-10 pitcher of the week battled back in the latter part of the game, striking out six Roadrunners in the game’s final three innings to give him 13 strikeouts on the day. Coach John Savage said he decided to leave Bauer in the game in the ninth because he “deserved” to throw the final inning of the game.
“We were going to take him out, but he said, “˜Coach, I want to finish, and I’m getting stronger,’ and I think he did a good job of finishing,” Savage said.
“When I take the ball to go out on the mound and start, it’s my game,” Bauer added. “I’m going to finish it, and if they beat me, they beat me, but they’re going to have to deal with me. They’re not going to get me out of the game.”
Junior right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole lost his fourth game in five starts Friday in a complete game effort but didn’t receive much help from the Bruin bats as they were able to total only two hits on the evening. Cole still retains a 3.42 earned run average and as of Thursday, was still picked to go No. 1 in the Major League Baseball Draft by ESPN’s Keith Law.
Cal State Bakersfield’s Mike McCarthy, Cole’s Friday night counterpart, earned the win by hurling a two-hitter.
“He was a good pitcher,” junior catcher Steve Rodriguez said of McCarthy. “He mixed it up really well and had a good splitter that kept us off-balance. We didn’t really recognize it, and we didn’t see the ball very well.”
Cal State Bakersfield, in just its third year of NCAA competition, has compiled an impressive resume under veteran coach Bill Kernen. Despite not being affiliated with a conference, the Roadrunners (27-21) have played admirably over a tough schedule, winning games against Arizona State, South Carolina and UC Irvine.
“They play with a chip on their shoulder because they know that they’re not as well advertised as a Pac-10 team would be, which makes them that much more dangerous,” Rodrgiuez said. “They’re very scrappy, and they do all of the little things right.”