UC Santa Barbara 1
This article was updated on May 22 at 11:26 a.m.
UCLA’s newly minted single-season saves leader suffered a scare on Tuesday night against UC Santa Barbara.
After sophomore closer David Berg surrendered a lead-off single and a passed ball, a base-running mistake on a grounder got the first out of the inning with UCLA baseball clinging to a one-run advantage.
The next batter followed with a long fly ball to the right field warning track, dying just short of the wall for what would have been a go-ahead home run.
Berg, who set a school record with his 16th save of the season on Sunday, was able to induce a pop out to close the game and record his 17th save of the year in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over the visiting Gauchos.
“In a day game (that ball goes out), but the game was at night, so we play what time the game is,” said coach John Savage, letting out a smile. “It happened to be at 8:30 at night and the ball doesn’t travel as well; what are you going to do? … He hit it pretty good, but it stayed in the ballpark.”
No. 8 UCLA (38-15) took its first and only lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth.
Following a pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt to lead off the inning, junior shortstop Pat Valaika brought in junior centerfielder Brian Carroll on a sac fly to right.
Berg and the bullpen took it from there after a strong start by freshman Cody Poteet, who pitched six innings with just one hit and one run.
“I just feel like I’m getting more comfortable,” Poteet said. “Earlier in the year, I’d feel one way one day, and I’m just trying to find that consistency right now and figuring out what I need to do.”
Poteet got in trouble early on, hitting the lead-off batter, who later came into score on a two-out single to right field.
With the win, UCLA improved to 15-1 on the season in games decided by one run. The Bruins’ proficiency in one-run games is helped along by the strength of their closer – Berg has gone 35 and 2/3 innings without allowing a run.
“When I’m up three runs or two runs and I have a little more wiggle room, I can just kind of go after hitters. Right there in that inning, had a runner on second with nobody out and it’s only a one-run lead, I was going to be very firm there,” Berg said.