The seniors were honored before Sunday’s game and the kids who ran the bases afterward might beg to differ, but for most in attendance, UCLA baseball’s final home series of the season was nothing special.
It was certainly nothing new. In dropping two out of three to Arizona State, UCLA did what it’s done over and over in Pac-12 play: win a game, but lose the series.
The Bruins took Saturday’s game in a resounding 13-2 victory, but lost on both Friday and Sunday against the Sun Devils, finishing the weekend tied for ninth place in the conference.
The Sun Devils have now taken six straight series, rebounding from a 4-8 conference start to put themselves in third place in the Pac-12 with a chance to claim the crown next weekend against USC.
“It’s important, we feel like, if we can somehow mathematically get it down to that last weekend,” said Arizona State coach Tracy Smith. “We’re not real deep and our goal’s been to try to figure out a way to win two on the weekend and up to this point, it’s worked out.”
Bruin coach John Savage cannot say the same. Though it has managed to post a 12-15 conference record, UCLA has won just two of nine series in Pac-12 play, with half of its wins coming in sweeps over Washington State and Oregon.
In six of their nine conference match-ups, the Bruins have dropped the series two games to one.
“We just haven’t won enough series,” Savage said after Sunday’s loss. “You’ve got to put more than one game together over a weekend.”
The Bruins were able to put together an impressive performance Saturday against the Sun Devils, with the offense producing 16 hits and 13 runs to back junior starter Grant Dyer’s complete-game effort.
Dyer struck out nine Sun Devils and walked none, throwing 88 of his 128 pitches for strikes. In his last three starts, the right-hander has racked up 26 strikeouts and allowed just six earned runs in 25.1 innings.
“He did a really nice job of keeping us off balance,” Smith said. “He was doing a good job of commanding his secondary stuff in the zone, kept us off stride.”
The win marked UCLA’s second Saturday victory in a row, once again giving the Bruins a chance to claim the series victory Sunday.
Just as it did against USC a week earlier though, UCLA ended up on the wrong end of a lopsided score, suffering a 10-4 loss. The Sun Devils jumped quickly on Bruin starter Jake Bird, who only recorded one out while being tagged for four hits and three runs, and kept scoring all the way until a four-run ninth inning.
ASU scored double digits as well in Friday’s opener, bludgeoning UCLA ace Griffin Canning for eight runs in 6 and 1/3 innings of work in a 12-4 victory.
“It’s really another opportunity that has slipped by us,” Savage said. “When you don’t play good baseball, you’re not going to win, and I didn’t think we played very good on Friday or Sunday.”