The UCLA baseball team will have to settle for a one-game winning streak this time around.
UCLA fell to recent nemesis Cal State Fullerton, 6-1, on Tuesday night before another large crowd of 1,517 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. After a season-opening 22 game winning streak, the Bruins (23-2) have now lost two of their last three contests.
No. 3 UCLA and Cal State Fullerton (16-11) have developed quite a rivalry in recent years ““ and that was clear by the two bus loads of Titans fans that traveled to catch the midweek game.
Cal State Fullerton’s bats made the trip as well. UCLA senior right-hander Garett Claypool had been lights-out heading into Tuesday, but the Titans jumped all over him to all but take the air out of the place.
“I just wasn’t good,” Claypool said. “I wasn’t throwing strikes and I wasn’t getting ahead. When I did get ahead, I couldn’t finish.”
It was a completely different Claypool than the one that had taken the mound in previous games. Claypool (3-1) had eight appearances prior to Tuesday night’s game ““ posting an earned-run average of 1.21 and allowing just one homer in 29 and two-thirds innings.
The first bad sign came when Fullerton’s Christian Colon, considered one of the top offensive shortstops in the nation, led off with a double down the left field line. Two batters later, designated hitter Carlos Lopez brought him in with a home run to right field.
But Fullerton was just getting started.
Second baseman Corey Jones homered to right and catcher Billy Marcoe doubled into the gap before first baseman Nick Ramirez belted another homer to right field.
“They had a plan,” coach John Savage said. “They jumped on him, and before you knew it, they had a five spot.”
Claypool eventually settled down, but UCLA’s bats were silent against Fullerton starter Kevin Rath. Rath gave up just two hits and a run in four and one-third innings.
UCLA didn’t respond until the fifth frame, when sophomore catcher Steve Rodriguez scored from third on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 5-1. But that was it for a UCLA offense that left 10 runners on base.
“College baseball games are never over with, but five runs in the first is a punch,” Savage said. “There was not any punch back, and that was disappointing.”
Fullerton’s Dylan Floro, Daniel Renken and Ramirez shut the door, combining to toss four and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief.
“We couldn’t get a big hit,” Savage said. “It was one of those nights where we could just never get going offensively. … They got the better of us.”