UCLA baseball might have been up by two, they might have been up by 10 – either way, they weren’t going to let their guard down.
“We’ve been taught pretty well that you never take your foot off the pedal,” said sophomore catcher Shane Zeile.
“That’s our mentality – we play through to the end of the game because they could come back at any point in time.”
That comeback was never even on the horizon though, as the No. 12 Bruins (5-2) stayed on top in their 12-3 win over UC Santa Barbara. UCLA’s lead stemmed from two runs in the third inning and grew steadily over the course of the game – until the Bruins’ bats exploded in a seven-run sixth inning that took the game from a win to a blowout.
The Bruins have looked to improve their offense lately, especially after a weekend series that resulted in two close wins and a shutout loss.
Coach John Savage attributed his team’s win to better two-strike hitting and more confidence at the plate.
“We have a lot of young guys, there’s going to be some bumps but we’ll establish ourselves as a good offensive team.”
It wasn’t just the bats that kept them in the game – defense and pitching led by freshman pitcher Cody Poteet also kept the Gauchos at bay. Poteet allowed two runs, one earned, and the Bruins let just one more cross home plate in relief.
“The pitchers pitched well as a group. When we have defense … that’s what we need to win games, that’ll take us as far as we can go,” said sophomore third baseman Kevin Kramer.
Poteet’s strong performance was all the more impressive in that Tuesday marked his collegiate debut.
“We think he’s going to be a good one. … He’s got four good pitches and he’s only going to get better. … It was good to see him get out there and get a few good innings,” Savage said,
The win extended UCLA’s winning streak in midweek non-conference games from last season to twelve.
“Last year, one of our strengths was Tuesday games … we appreciate these games because it lets us get that midweek work in,” said Zeile, who scored two runs in the win.
While the Bruins had some trouble at the plate last weekend, seven players recorded at least one hit in the win.
“It’s nice to get back offensively,” Kramer said.