The 2010 UCLA baseball team continues to leave its mark in the program record books.
First it was the mind-numbing 22-game win streak to open the season. Then came the nation’s No. 1 ranking.
On Tuesday night, UCLA reached the 30-win plateau in the fewest games in school history, defeating UC Irvine 4-1 at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
With the win, the Bruins (30-7) also improved to 18-5 at home this spring.
Senior right-hander Garett Claypool played a major role in the feat, allowing just one run in a career-high seven and two-thirds innings to lower his earned-run average to 2.11 ““ tops amongst UCLA starting pitchers.
“I had a mentality coming in of just attacking the glove, going pitch to pitch,” Claypool said. “I kind of let them hit it ““ that kept my pitch count down and kept me in there longer.”
Claypool (6-1) surrendered his only run with two outs in the top of the eighth, with UCLA holding on to a 4-1 lead.
Then, coach John Savage had no choice but to bring out his bullpen.
“Claypool did what he does on Tuesdays,” Savage said.
“He earned it. When a guy has a shutout and works his tail off all week for it, you have to reward him.”
The same could not be said for Claypool’s counterpart, right-hander Evan Brock of UC Irvine (24-14).
Brock lasted only one inning and a third, allowing five of the nine batters he faced to reach base.
The Bruins, though, failed to cash in on a bases-loaded opportunity in the first frame when junior shortstop Niko Gallego struck out swinging.
Brock exited with runners on second and third, but UCLA only mustered one run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of freshman outfielder Beau Amaral.
In all, the Bruins left eight runners stranded in the first four innings.
“We had plenty of opportunities,” Savage said. “That game could have had a bigger spread, but Irvine was not going to throw cookies over the plate.”
UCLA finally snuck into the kitchen and reached into the cookie jar in the fifth inning.
Freshman outfielder Cody Keefer led off with a double to the right field corner and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Gallego.
With the infield drawn in, freshman third baseman Cody Regis did what his teammates could not in the innings prior, lining a single to right to score Keefer and give the Bruins a 2-0 edge.
It didn’t end there.
Junior outfielder Chris Giovinazzo promptly jumped all over Irvine pitcher Kyle Hooper’s next offering, launching a towering home run to the Eucalyptus trees beyond the left-field fence for his first round-tripper of the season.
“We were just trying to be aggressive,” Giovinazzo said. “Coach (Rick) Vanderhook told me to get a first pitch and just let it fly. I ran into one.”
All of a sudden, Claypool had a four-run cushion.
“It was a big relief,” Claypool said. “I believed in our hitters, they battled and got the job done.”