Down 4-0 after the three innings, the Bruins were on their way to dropping their sixth Tuesday game in seven tries and third game in a row.
But UCLA baseball (16-18, 6-9 Pac-12) responded, and put a crooked number on the board in the sixth to take down Pepperdine (18-17, 8-7 West Coast Conference) in Malibu by a score of 10-6.
“I think we really had some unselfish at-bats,” said coach John Savage. “We used the middle of the field, had some opposite field doubles, a couple of middle of the field singles and a couple mature walks that allowed us to have that big seven run inning.”
After scoring a run thanks to a bases-loaded hit batsman in the fourth, the Bruins entered the sixth down by three. They left that inning up by four after a seven-run, six-hit parade that brought 11 batters to the plate and put the game out of reach for the Waves.
The rally started up when redshirt freshman catcher Daniel Rosica got a fastball up in the zone and put it down the right field line for a two-RBI double. Rosica would come around to score the tying run on a sacrifice fly from sophomore first baseman Sean Bouchard, the only member of the starting lineup who didn’t record a hit.
Junior left fielder Brett Stephens finished the rally off with a two-out, two-run double to right center to put his team up by four.
On the other side of the ball, the plan from the start was to pitch a bullpen game. Freshman pitcher Jon Olsen made his first career collegiate start, but Savage said he was only expected to throw three innings. He threw 2 2/3 innings, giving up three runs.
Freshman lefty Justin Hooper was scheduled to pitch an inning, and he did more than that, overpowering the middle of Pepperdine’s order in a two-strikeout, eight-pitch perfect frame.
“I’m so happy for him,” Savage said. “He’s obviously made some strides. He started off as rough as you could as a freshman, but his last three or four outings have been pretty impressive.“
Freshman outfielder Daniel Amaral led off and got the start in the center. The freshman said he’s been batting leadoff his whole life, and after he went 2-for-5 with a stolen base, Savage said he might start to pick up more playing time now that he’s completely healthy.
“You’re going to see a little bit more of him – for sure against left handed pitching,” Savage said. “He has the ability to hit a double and has the ability to steal a base and has the ability to drop a bunt. He’s going to be a really good player and really a future leadoff guy. He sparked us today.”
Other notable offensive performances in the 10-run, 17-hit performance came from redshirt senior right fielder Eric Filia (3-for-5, 2 RBI), junior designated hitter Kort Peterson (3-for-5, 1 RBI) and senior second baseman Brett Urabe (4-for-5, 2 R).
Pepperdine threatened in the ninth, plating a run and bringing the tying run to the plate against closer Brian Gadsby. Rosica called time to go talk to the freshman.
“I told him to keep making pitches,” Rosica said. “He was making some good pitches and they were putting good swings on the ball. I told him to just keep going after it. That’s what he did and it worked out.”
Gadsby got out of the jam with two consecutive pop-ups to end the game.
The Bruins return home this weekend for a three-game weekend set against Oregon.