May 4, 2013
Los Angeles, Calif. - The ninth-ranked UCLA Baseball team clinched its fourth straight weekend series victory on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Utah Utes by a score of 5-4 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Junior Nick Vander Tuig picked up his fourth consecutive win after allowing just two runs in 6.2 innings pitched.
Vander Tuig gave up six hits in his 6.2 innings of work, striking out six and walking just one. Dalton Carroll took the loss for the Utes, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits while walking four. For the second straight game, sophomore David Berg notched the save, tossing 1.2 innings of scoreless baseball.
The Utes took an early lead in the top of the first, when Trey Nielsen scored from third on a single by TJ Bennett to make it 1-0 Utah. The Bruins equalized in the bottom half of the inning though, starting when sophomore Kevin Kramer doubled to right-center with one out. Sophomore Eric Filia then brought him home with a single up the middle in the next at-bat to tie the game at 1-1.
Utah went back ahead in the top of the second, scoring another run when Cody Scaggari hit into a fielder's choice that allowed Wyler Smith to come in. Once again the game would not be tied for long though, as the Bruins tied it up in the bottom of the second. Junior Pat Gallagher led off the inning with a hit by pitch, and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a groundout. Junior Brian Carroll then stepped to the plate with two outs and knocked in Gallagher with a single to right-center, evening things up at 2-2.
Vander Tuig would settle in after that, keeping the Utes off the board for the next four innings while retiring 12 of the next 15 batters he faced. UCLA's offense rewarded him in the bottom of the sixth, taking the lead on sacrifice fly by Gallagher that allowed Valaika to score.
The Bruins then added some much needed insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh. Junior Brenton Allen led off the inning with a solo shot to right-center, making it 4-2 in favor of UCLA. Later in the inning, Valaika came to the plate with Kramer on second and Filia on first, and drove a pitch to right-center gap for a single, bringing home Kramer and giving the Bruins a three-run lead.
Utah fought back though, and got a run in the top of the eighth on a RBI single by Bennett off of junior Zack Weiss, cutting the deficit to two. The Utes then brought another run home on an error at short by Valaika to make it 5-4. Berg then entered the game with one out and runners on first and third in the top of the eighth, and ended the threat with a strikeout of Smith and a pick off of Connor Eppard at first. Berg would strike out the side in the ninth to close out the game and earn his 12th save of the year.
Valaika led the Bruins at the plate, going 2-3 with a run and a RBI. Kramer followed that up with a 1-3 day that included a double and two runs scored while Filia, Gallagher and Allen each knocked in a run.
UCLA (30-13, 13-7 Pac-12) and Utah (16-25, 5-18 Pac-12) will wrap up their series tomorrow at 1 p.m. out at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Sophomore left-hander Grant Watson (5-3, 3.13 ERA) will start the series finale for the Bruins.
Game Notes: UCLA has reached the 30-win plateau for the seventh time in head coach John Savage's nine-year tenure at the school...in his last four starts, Nick Vander Tuig is 4-0 with a 1.22 ERA, 25 strikeouts and just four walks...Vander Tuig has also now pitched at least six innings in 11 of his 12 starts this season...Brenton Allen is now 7 for his last 16 (.438 batting average) with three RBI and two runs scored...Pat Valaika's error in the eighth inning snapped a streak of 32 consecutive games without an error...Valaika did extend his hitting streak to six games though and has now reached base in 15 consecutive games...David Berg extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 25.1 and is now just three saves shy of matching the single-season record for most saves by a UCLA pitcher...the Bruins improved to 11-1 on the year in one-run ballgames.