For the first time this season, five runs were not enough for a Bruin victory.
No. 2 UCLA baseball (9-3) began the weekend with a 7-5 loss to No. 16 Michigan (9-2), on Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium in the first game of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic. The Bruins fell short of a six-run comeback after scoring five unanswered runs, but the Wolverines were able to tack on an insurance run to secure the victory.
“I felt this was probably our best loss of the year,” said junior first baseman Michael Toglia. “We were competitive. We bounced back after the first couple of innings and just kept competing the whole time.”
In the top of the first, Michigan jumped out to an early lead after stringing together a few singles and walks. RBI singles by outfielders Miles Lewis, Jordan Brewer and Jesse Franklin scored their first four runs – the most UCLA has allowed all in an inning this season.
“We haven’t given up any runs this year,” said coach John Savage. “I didn’t think (sophomore right-hander Zach Pettway) was bad, I just thought they did a nice job and put some solid at-bats together.”
The Wolverines would add to their lead in the third inning as back-to-back singles put runners on first and second for Brewer to knock in his second RBI of the game. Pettway would give up a walk to load the bases and another walk that would increase the Michigan lead to six. Friday’s game marked most runs the Bruins have given up all season, with their previous high being four against Georgia Tech on Feb. 22.
“You’re going to take blows in this game and it’s just a matter of how you respond,” Savage said.
Pettway would not give up another run for the rest of his start, going 6 2/3 innings and striking out eight batters in the process. After the third inning, Pettway only allowed two more hits and struck out six in the process.
“He’s been a rock since he’s been on campus,” Savage said. “You have to give him credit for staying with the game and responding the right way.”
The Bruins’ offense gave Pettway some run support responding to the Wolverines’ two-run third inning by scoring two of its own in the bottom of the frame. A double by sophomore right fielder Garrett Mitchell started the inning and was followed up with an infield single by junior catcher Will McInerny that caused three Wolverines to slip and fall and put runners on the corners. Freshman outfielder Matt McLain grounded out to score Mitchell, and the next at-bat, an RBI-single by junior shortstop Ryan Kreidler gave the Bruins their second run of the game.
Toglia stepped up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh, following a double by McLain and walks by Kreidler and senior outfielder Jake Pries. Toglia ripped the ball into the right-center gap for a bases-clearing triple, cutting the Michigan lead to just one.
“It’s good to see (Toglia) get on track,” Savage said. “He’s off to a rough start and we know he’s a very good player, so it’s fun to watch him get on track a little bit.”
Though the Bruins took a loss Friday night, McLain said the team was optimistic about its comeback effort and its approach for the rest of the weekend.
“We went down 6-0 and a lot of teams would quit right there,” McLain said. “We didn’t, we just had to keep playing each and every pitch.”
The Bruins will return to Jackie Robinson Stadium to play game two of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic against Oklahoma State at 2 p.m.