It had been a tough weekend for UCLA. It was on its first losing streak of the season, working to avoid a sweep by Arizona State when the third game of the series kicked off on Saturday afternoon.
All of a sudden, the Bruins were up 1-0 with the bases loaded and the Sun Devils were pulling their starter, sophomore Adam McCreery.
But it wouldn’t stay that easy for UCLA, as it took the team 10 innings and 12 runs to snag the lone win.
The lead changed hands six times and the Bruins went through four pitchers en route to a 12-10 win in the final game of the series in Tempe, Ariz.
Saturday’s game, by far the most eventful of the weekend, ensured that UCLA remained unswept, as ASU took the first two games, 4-1 and 7-4.
“It’s important to salvage the series a little, we played well the whole weekend,” said sophomore third baseman Kevin Kramer. “We bounced back and it was a roller coaster. … It was a good win.”
The Bruins’ starting pitchers had uncharacteristic trouble in all three games.
On Thursday, junior Adam Plutko lasted the whole game, but a few early mistakes forced the loss. Friday, junior Nick Vander Tuig gave up four runs in five innings.
Sophomore Grant Watson took the mound on Saturday, coming into the game with a 5-0 record and a 1.13 ERA.
However, six early runs led to coach John Savage pulling Watson in the third.
UCLA didn’t dig deep into its bullpen during the first two games, so the seven-plus innings of relief in the series’ final game didn’t leave the Bruins without pitching.
Sophomore David Berg earned the win from a four-inning appearance out of the bullpen, a career-high. Berg is characterized as a pitcher who has high endurance many times in his career as a Bruin, and Saturday was another one of those times.
“We never want to have to put Berg out there for four innings but at the end of the day, that’s really what kept us in the ballgame,” Savage said.
UCLA pulled a victory out of the extra-inning affair with a two-run single from designated hitter Kevin Williams.
“We just wanted to come out and play our game and stick with our guys. … We finished the weekend and salvaged it,” Williams said.
While it took 10 innings for the Bruins to secure the win, it was one of their strongest offensive efforts of the season. UCLA’s hits started early and often, an area of its game that had been lacking in the first two games of the series.
It was important to the Bruins to come out in the last game and prevent the sweep, as they now head into a critical home series against Oregon State with some momentum.
“It takes resiliency to know you put your best effort forward,” Kramer said. “It was good for us to get that win out of the series, we knew we could win that game and I think it showed.”
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