Wednesday, December 11

Hitting struggles doom UCLA baseball in extra innings against USC

Freshman third baseman Chase Strumpf hit a deep fly ball to left field that landed in the field level at Dodger Stadium Sunday afternoon in the Bruins’ 4-3 loss to the Trojans. (Isabelle Roy/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Freshman third baseman Chase Strumpf hit a deep fly ball to left field that landed in the field level at Dodger Stadium Sunday afternoon in the Bruins’ 4-3 loss to the Trojans. (Isabelle Roy/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Different ballpark. Same team.

After going 8-for-67 in two games at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Friday and Saturday, UCLA baseball went just 4-for-33 at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, losing to USC 4-3 in 10 innings.

“We are playing tremendous defense right now. We are pitching. We clearly need to get our offense going,” said coach John Savage. “We’ve lost several games the way we lost tonight.”

In just 10 games this season, UCLA has dropped four one-run games and three extra-inning games.

An early string of one-run innings put the Bruins (5-5) three runs ahead of the Trojans (7-4).

In the second, Chase Strumpf cleared the short wall in Dodger Stadium’s left field corner to put UCLA ahead 1-0.

An inning later, a single and two walks loaded the bases for Strumpf in the bottom of the third. The freshman second baseman skied a ball to shallow right – one of the only areas of the field that wasn’t in the shade yet. The Trojans’ second baseman couldn’t make the play, so the Bruins cashed in an unearned run.

Senior left fielder Brett Stephens started the fourth inning with a double down the left field line, advanced on a bunt and scored on a sacrifice fly.

“We got three ones. But really, if we put up some crooked numbers, we like our chances in any game,” Savage said. “Over the last couple games, it seemed like we just have not been able to put a bunch of at-bats together.”

Junior first baseman Sean Bouchard added that, offensively, the team started to feel comfortable after taking the three-run lead, and that he felt like the offense laid off the gas pedal a little bit. Sophomore center fielder Daniel Amaral said that the fact that he and his teammates either struck out or flied out 24 times stuck out to him.

USC coach Dan Hubbs pulled his starter in the fourth and sent Chris Clarke – the brother of UCLA redshirt sophomore designated hitter Zander Clarke – to the hill. Clarke picked up 5 2/3 innings pitched and was not charged with a run.

Jon Olsen coasted through five scoreless innings, but struggled in the sixth. The sophomore starting pitcher got pulled right after he gave up a two-run triple to Trojan first baseman Lars Nootbaar.

“That’s as good as I’ve seen him since he’s been at UCLA,” Savage said of Olsen. “He developed tonight. … The good thing is the bar’s been set for him.”

A fastball up to 92 miles per hour and a curve ball Savage called special made Olsen’s career outing possible.

Freshman reliever Ryan Garcia came in and gave up a game-tying single. The next batter roped a line drive into right center, but Amaral came racing in to make a diving catch that saved two runs and ended the inning.

The Trojans broke the 3-3 tie with an unearned run in the top of the 10th. USC pinch hitter John Thomas reached on an error by senior pitcher Scott Burke and then scored on a double by Nootbaar.

UCLA went down in order in the bottom of the 10th to end the game.

Saturday’s struggle

After losing starting pitcher junior Jake Bird to a shoulder injury 30 minutes prior to Saturday’s game, UCLA looked to its bullpen to carry it through 12 innings.

The bullpen answered, but the Bruins only collected three hits in the extended game and fell 3-1 to the San Diego Toreros (6-3).

Bird felt a small tweak in his right shoulder, so senior reliever Moises Ceja made the spot start.

Six different relief pitchers combined for 11 innings of one-run ball before sophomore closer Brian Gadsby gave up the runs that cost UCLA the game in his fourth inning of work.

“The bullpen pitched to the plan, I don’t think you could have drawn it up any better,” Savage said. “It’s tough to win with three hits in 12 innings, and we almost pulled it off. At the end of the day we have to be better offensively.”

Bouchard worked the pitch count to 1-2 in the sixth inning before sending a massive fly ball over the left field wall, which gave the Bruins their third hit of the game and lone run of the evening.

Gadsby gave up a run in the ninth and two in the 12th, finishing with a line of six hits, three strikeouts and three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, making him unavailable for Sunday’s game.


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Sports editor

Gottlieb is the Sports editor. He was previously an assistant Sports editor in 2016-2017, and has covered baseball, softball, women's volleyball and golf during his time with the Bruin.

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