The streak lives.
Sophomore infielder Dean Espy blooped a run-scoring single to center field in the 10th inning to defeat Stanford on Thursday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, extending the UCLA baseball team’s winning streak to 22 games. It was the first extra-inning affair in UCLA’s impressive start to the season.
“I was really pumped up heading into that situation,” Espy said. “A lot of adrenaline.”
The Stanford outfielders were playing shallow, but Espy’s short, looping fly ball still found a crease.
“I didn’t think it was going to work,” Espy said. “But I knew, once I saw the outfielder busting in, even if he slid, we were still going to score ““ especially with Niko Gallego at third.”
The game could have had a different ending were it not for an immense running mistake an inning prior.
Sophomore closer Dan Klein came in from the bullpen in the ninth and gave up a single to left field that nearly scored the tie-breaking run.
But Tyler Gaffney, Stanford’s base runner, slipped as he rounded third. He was hung out to dry as he scampered toward the plate.
“We caught a huge break with Gaffney slipping ““ he was scoring, he was in,” coach John Savage said. “We were fortunate.”
A little bit of luck here and there never hurt anyone. The base-running mistake was just what the Bruins (22-0, 1-0 Pac-10) needed.
UCLA’s Pac-10 opener was a back-and-forth battle.
The Bruins battled back from a 5-3 deficit, as they have all season, scrapping for two runs in the bottom of the seventh after Stanford had broken a tie with a pair of runs in the top half of the frame.
Freshman third baseman Cody Regis came through with a line-drive single to right field that scored Tyler Rahmatulla and Chris Giovinazzo and tied the game. Rahmatulla had homered back in the first inning.
UCLA starter Gerrit Cole (6-0) did not factor in the decision after allowing three runs (one earned) in five and two thirds innings.
“Just for us to be punched like that and punch back really shows how tough our team is,” Espy said. “It’s exactly what we need.”