The Bruins had their foot in the door on several occasions Sunday, but stood and watched as it slammed shut.
No. 11 UCLA baseball (31-16, 15-9 Pac-12) squandered a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning of Sunday’s rubber match against unranked Washington (25-21, 15-9) in Seattle, losing 6-4 on a walk-off 2-run homer in the 11th frame. The Bruins left seven runners on base in the final three innings and struck out looking with two outs in the ninth and 11th.
The Bruins had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the ninth with two on base, but junior center fielder Daniel Amaral struck out looking to end the inning.
UCLA then loaded the bases in the 10th but couldn’t capitalize. Freshman reliever Holden Powell retired the side in order to get the Bruins to the 11th, but sophomore pinch hitter Jarron Silva watched a third strike go by with two outs.
“It’s disappointing. Offensively we didn’t really get anything going toward the end. We had some guys on but we couldn’t cash in,” said sophomore left fielder Jeremy Ydens. “It’s frustrating but we’ll get back going and get some confidence going towards the end (of the season).”
Washington then hit a 2-run homer to center field off Powell to walk-off in the 11th inning with a victory.
UCLA left 15 runners on base on the day and struck out 11 times in total.
“There’s a lot of different pitchers coming at us from different teams, (but we need to improve on) just sticking to our approach,” Ydens said. “Being better with two strikes and being able to cash in on RBI situation is big for us.”
Sophomore right-hander Ryan Garcia started for the eighth time this year, throwing 5 2/3 innings, allowing 3 runs on four hits. The Bruin pitching staff combined for three strikeouts total.
“I was definitely expecting low-scoring games (this series),” Garcia said. “It was a surprise how big the field played the past couple days. Simple pop-flies turned into home runs.”
The Bruins have lost two series in a row and six of their last seven games. They now sit two games behind the second-place Oregon State Beavers in the Pac-12 race, tied for third with the Huskies.
“It’s disappointing. We haven’t played well in a couple weeks. We need to start playing better or else our season is not going to last very long,” said coach John Savage. “We’re not swinging the bats very well, we’re not pitching, we’re not playing much defense – we’re in a funk right now.”
UCLA allowed 18 hits Saturday – the most since March 17, 2017 – losing to Washington 13-6.
The Huskies put up 4 runs in the first inning off freshman Zach Pettway, who earned his third loss of the season after giving up 7 runs in 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander allowed a career-high 10 hits and threw a career-low one strikeout.
The Bruins snapped a four-game losing streak in the series opener Friday, defeating the Huskies 7-3.
Right-hander Jake Bird tied a career-high with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. The senior allowed eight hits overall and all 3 runs in the bottom of the fourth frame.
UCLA immediately answered a 3-0 deficit in the fifth inning with a 3-run homer by sophomore first baseman Michael Toglia. Redshirt junior catcher Daniel Rosica hit an RBI sac fly an inning later to give the Bruins a lead that would hold the rest of the game.
No. 3 Oregon State took two out of three games from conference-leader No. 2 Stanford this weekend to come within half a game of first place.
UCLA is now two games away from a top-two seed, which will likely result in home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. However, the postseason is distant from Savage’s focus right now.
“We’re so far from the playoffs that we’re just trying to get better today,” Savage said. “We got our hands full the rest of the season, really, and if we don’t play well, there won’t be any playoffs. We have to play better baseball.”
The top four seeds have a significant gap between the rest of the conference. UCLA will play Oregon State and Stanford will face Washington in the regular season finale.
The Bruins will play their last midweek game of the season Tuesday against the CSUN Matadors. The first matchup between the two teams March 14 was suspended in the eighth inning due to weather with UCLA leading 3-2. They will finish that game first and play the second game at 6 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium.