This post was updated June 3 at 2:10 p.m.
The Bruins trailed for eight innings Friday, but they came away with the victory.
On Saturday, they didn’t trail until the tenth, but were unable to escape with a win this time around.
No. 2 seed UCLA (37-20, 19-11 Pac-12) fell to No. 1 seed Minnesota (43-13, 18-4 Big Ten) 3-2 in 10 innings in game four of the Minneapolis Regional. The Bruins’ last five playoff games have all been decided by one run, and Saturday’s loss is their third in extra innings over the last two postseasons.
“It was playoff baseball at its best,” said coach John Savage.
Freshman right-hander Zach Pettway got the game rolling before a 30-minute lightning delay, getting through the top of the first unscathed despite allowing a one-out triple. The freshman said the lightning delay was new to him, but that it didn’t change his approach.
“I haven’t experienced that living in California,” Pettway said. “I’m not going to blame anything on a lightning delay, that was just on me.”
Pettway threw 100 pitches in seven innings, allowing one earned run and tallying four strikeouts. He found himself in multiple jams – including one in the third when he was visited on the mound three times – but he fought his way out and didn’t allow any hits with runners in scoring position.
Through six innings, the Gophers’ starter – Big Ten Pitcher and Freshman of the Year Patrick Frederickson – walked five and allowed two runs. The freshman had seven strikeouts, but he had one walk in each of the first five innings.
Frederickson also held the Bruins in check with runners in scoring position, as UCLA finished the night 0-for-11 in those situations.
“I’m really impressed with (Pettway and Frederickson),” Savage said. “Young guys going at each other, it was fun to watch.”
The Bruins managed to take a short-lived 1-0 lead in the first inning when sophomore first baseman Michael Toglia drove in sophomore left fielder Jermey Ydens on a sacrifice fly to left field. Coming into Saturday, UCLA was 25-1 when scoring first.
Pettway allowed a solo home run in the very next frame, but the Bruins were able to retake the lead in the bottom of the inning. Junior center fielder Daniel Amaral fought Frederickson for eight pitches and eventually drew a walk, then stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw. Freshman right fielder Garrett Mitchell grounded out and drove in Amaral to make it a 2-1 Bruins lead.
UCLA was held off the boards for the remainder of the game after stranding the bases loaded in the fifth and seventh innings. A leadoff triple in the third by Ydens and a walk by Toglia in the bottom of the ninth – his third of the game – were wasted as their teammates were unable to drive them home.
“I think it has been a common theme for us,” said sophomore second baseman Chase Strumpf. “We kind of fell into a lull in the middle innings. … It’s just about flipping that switch.”
Minnesota knotted the score at 2 in the top of the eight on a controversial sacrifice fly. The ball was lined to Amaral in center, and he hit redshirt junior catcher Daniel Rosica’s chest with his throw to the plate, but the Minnesota baserunner snuck under the tag to tie it up. Savage came out to discuss the play with the umpires, but the play could not be reviewed since video review is not available until the NCAA Super Regionals.
The Gophers had a the go-ahead run on third with two outs in the ninth, and they knocked grounder up the middle could have given them the lead. However, Strumpf ranged to his right and made a running throw across his body to prevent the run and end the inning.
UCLA was unable to get anything going in the ninth and tenth, and an RBI-double by third baseman Micah Coffey in the top of the tenth became the winning run for Minnesota.
Sophomore reliever Kyle Mora – who closed out the victory against Gonzaga on Friday – gave up two earned runs in his three innings on the mound after replacing Pettway in the eighth. Mora was named an All-Conference honorable mention last week after posting a 1.69 ERA in the regular season.
UCLA now moves into the losers bracket and will rematch against No. 3 seed Gonzaga in an elimination game noon Sunday. The winner of that game will have to defeat Minnesota on Sunday and Monday night to advance to the Super Regionals next weekend.