Only two pitchers took the mound for UCLA on Sunday.
They were both freshmen.
“You got a guy throwing eight innings and a guy who’s throwing 93 to end the game,” said coach John Savage. “It was fun to see both those kids evolving into Bruin pitchers.”
Freshman Zach Pettway threw eight shutout innings to earn his second win of the season, and freshman Holden Powell earned his second save closing the ninth, leading No. 11 UCLA (6-1) to a 3-0 win over Baylor (3-3) in a series rubber match Sunday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
“(Pettway) was exceptional,” Savage said. “He commanded the fastball. He threw his change-up for strikes, he threw his breaking ball for strikes, pitch count was good. That was as impressive an outing as we’ve seen in a while.”
Pettway threw a perfect game through five innings in his second start for UCLA. The right-hander gave up Baylor’s first hit – a double – on the first pitch of the sixth inning but proceeded to retire the lineup in order immediately afterward.
“Once I got through that fifth inning, I was like, ‘Okay, it’s kind of going well,’” Pettway said. “Don’t think about (a perfect game), don’t talk about it. I kind of thought about it – gave up a double on the first pitch.”
The freshman threw 100 pitches, 67 for strikes, with six strikeouts, three hits, and no walks.
“Coach Savage and I have talked about going after guys and making them get themselves out,” Pettway said. “You don’t need to be too extra about it. Just go after guys and be aggressive.”
With a 3-0 lead going into the ninth, Savage brought in Powell to close the game. After earning a save Friday, Powell gave up a double in the first at-bat, but then retired the lineup in order to record his second save.
After UCLA saw seven pitchers and gave up eight runs and six walks in its loss to Baylor on Saturday, Savage thought Pettway set a high bar for the other starting pitchers.
“That felt like a Friday night game on a Sunday,” Savage said. “No walks, 8 K’s – that was premium pitching at a moment when we really needed it.”
UCLA earned its first run off an error in the first inning. Sophomore first baseman Michael Toglia hit a fly ball to left field, which was dropped by the Baylor outfielder, bringing junior third baseman Jake Hirabayashi to third while Toglia advanced to second. Sophomore left fielder Jeremy Ydens then hit a groundout RBI bringing home Hirabayashi on an unearned run.
Both teams combined for three hits and zero runs for the next five innings.
In the seventh, junior center fielder Daniel Amaral tacked on an insurance run by batting in sophomore shortstop Ryan Kreidler from first, who reached base on a hit by pitch. Baylor’s starting pitcher Hayden Kettler then hit Hirabayashi with a pitch, placing two Bruins on base, but was able to escape the inning with a groundout.
Kettler threw 101 pitches in seven innings, allowing three hits, walking three Bruins and hitting three with pitches.
“I’m gonna tip my hat to that pitcher,” Amaral said. “He did a good job, kept us off balance, made some good pitches when he needed to. We just did a good enough job to win and that’s all that really matters.”
UCLA took advantage of Kettler’s absence in the eighth inning, as sophomore second baseman Chase Strumpf hit a triple that bounced off the top of the center field wall and back into play. After another Baylor pitching change, junior left fielder Jake Pries doubled to left field, bringing home Strumpf for UCLA’s final run.
“We were a little disappointed in our offense for the majority of the game,” Savage said. “But Strumpf’s triple, Pries’ double, Amaral’s single to knock in a run – there were some big moments from certain guys.”
UCLA will travel to No. 22 Cal State Fullerton in its first road game of the year Tuesday.