The Bruins started the postseason with a loss, so it’s win-or-go-home for the rest of the weekend.
“We expected a dogfight, and we got one,” said coach John Savage.
UCLA baseball fell to No. 19 Texas by score of 3-2 in the first game of the Long Beach Regional. Because of the double-elimination style bracket, another loss this weekend will eliminate the Bruins from the NCAA Tournament.
Junior ace Griffin Canning threw 7 2/3 innings on 108 pitches in what could be the final collegiate start of his career. He allowed three runs – two earned – and six hits, striking out seven.
“There’s stuff I can take from it, positive things. But it ultimately comes down to what I can do for my team,” Canning said. “I just wasn’t able to win.”
The first run of the game scored when Longhorn first baseman Kacy Clemens – the son of MLB great Roger Clemens – sent a 2-0 change-up over the right field wall.
Texas extended its lead to 2-0 with an unearned run during a three-error bottom of the seventh.
Designated hitter Travis Jones reached on an error by freshman shortstop Ryan Kreidler and then stole second on a pitchout. Redshirt sophomore catcher Daniel Rosica’s throw hit Jones and went into center field, advancing Jones to third. He would score on a single.
“At the end of the day we just didn’t quite play clean enough baseball,” Savage said.
Kreidler hit a leadoff home run in the next inning to score UCLA’s first run. Longhorn starter Nolan Kingham, who Savage called outstanding, finished the game with 7 2/3 innings pitched and five strikeouts with no walks.
“He didn’t have his normal velocity like we were expecting him to,” Kreidler said. “But one thing that pitchers do is they make pitches when they don’t have their best stuff, and I thought he did a good job of locating that fastball and he kept us on our toes.”
The Bruins added another in the ninth on an RBI single from freshman third baseman Jack Stronach, but ultimately left the winning run on base.
UCLA will play the loser of Friday evening’s contest between No. 9 Long Beach State and San Diego State in an elimination game Saturday at 1 p.m.
“It’s kind of been the story of our season,” Kreidler said. “We didn’t start very well…if we want to make the postseason we had to play quality baseball to get above .500 and get in. We did that. We’re here. We’re going to keep playing the way we know how to play and take tomorrow for what it is.”