When UCLA baseball was in a tight spot in the seventh inning on Tuesday night, with the tying runs in scoring position, coach John Savage called upon his lefty specialist, redshirt sophomore Max Schuh, to get the final out of the inning.
After his warm up, Hawai’i (7-22) countered Savage’s move to the bullpen, bringing on a right-handed pinch hitter to face Schuh. Even though Schuh hadn’t faced a right-handed batter all season, Savage kept him in the game and the 6-foot-4-inch southpaw responded, striking out the batter swinging on a 2-2 curveball.
The Bruins got out of the jam, maintaining their 2-run advantage, one they would not relinquish in an eventual 5-1 win over the visiting Rainbows.
“I was a little surprised they pinch hit the lead-off batter; he’s one of their best players and I didn’t think they’d do that,” Savage said.
“But I told Max you’ve got to be ready because you’re going to get a pinch-hitter sooner or later, and it happened tonight.”
With the victory, UCLA managed to snap its two-game losing streak overall, also rebounding from having its 14-game Tuesday win streak snapped last week in a loss to Cal State Fullerton.
The Bruins have now won three of their last eight games going into the weekend series against Loyola Marymount.
A three-run third inning was all the support freshman starter Cody Poteet and the Bruin bullpen ended up needing against Hawai’i.
Junior left fielder Brenton Allen opened the scoring in the third, smacking a triple to the alley in right-center field to score the runner from first.
The Bruins (20-9) added two more, scoring one run on an error and yet another on a sacrifice fly by junior shortstop Pat Valaika to take a 3-0 lead.
“To get a 1-0 pitch it was exactly what (hitting) coach (Rex) Peters told me I was going to get,” said Allen of his RBI triple.
“He said, ‘Get in the back of the box and look for a middle-in pitch,’ and that’s exactly what I got and I was looking for it so I hammered it.”
Poteet pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and just one runner past second base.
With runners at the corners in the second inning, Poteet struck out the batter to get out of the jam.
The Bruins tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI double from junior first baseman Pat Gallagher, and RBI single by sophomore catcher Shane Zeile.
Sophomore sidearm reliever David Berg only needed six pitches in order to pitch a perfect ninth that finished off the game.
“It was really a team victory tonight. I started off the season pretty bad but I’ve been working hard to get back at it and it’s not all about one guy,” said Zeile, who finished the night up 2-for-4.
“You’ve got to trust the next guy up and they did a nice job trusting me tonight.”