On a cold and rainy night, the UCLA Baseball team was edged by second-ranked Oregon State in the series opener, falling to the Beavers, 4-2, at Goss Stadium in Corvallis, Ore. Oregon State scored the two go-ahead runs in the bottom of the eighth to earn the victory over the Bruins.
Ben Wetzler (9-1) outdueled sophomore James Kaprielian to earn the win, pitching eight innings and allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out eight. Kaprielian (6-5) took the loss after giving up four runs on six hits in 7.2 innings pitched. Kaprielian struck out four and walked six as well. Scott Schultz picked up his fifth save of the year for the Beavers with a scoreless ninth inning.
The first two innings went scoreless before the Bruins took the lead in the top of the third. After senior Aaron Weimer singled with one out, freshman Brett Stephens moved him over to second with a single of his own, bringing up sophomore Ty Moore with two outs. Moore came through on a 1-0 pitch, smacking a double just past the diving arm of Oregon State left fielder Michael Conforto to plate Weimer and Stephens and give UCLA a 2-0 lead. Kaprielian then ran into some trouble in the bottom half of the inning, putting the first two batters on via an infield single and a walk. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, but Kaprielian kept the Beavers off the board by getting a strikeout of Jeff Hendrix and a groundout from Andy Peterson to end the threat.
Neither team scored in the fourth, and then in the bottom of the fifth Oregon State got one back to cut UCLA’s lead in half. Gabe Clark led off the inning with a single, eventually getting to second with two outs. Trever Morrison then brought him in with a triple to right to make it 2-1 UCLA. Kaprielian walked Hendrix on the next at-bat to put runners on the corners for the Beavers, but he was able to battle back and got some good fortune to end the inning. Oregon State attempted a hit and run with Peterson and Hendrix and Peterson looked to come through with a line drive up the middle. However, freshman Luke Persico broke to cover the bag at second and found himself in perfect position to catch Peterson’s line drive, ending the inning.
The Beavers would find the tying run in the bottom of the sixth though. After Conforto led off with a walk and made his way to second with two outs, Clark scored him with a two-out double to left to tie the game at 2-2. Two innings later, Oregon State was able to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs, Dylan Davis and Michael Howard hit back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners. A walk to Clark loaded the bases for Logan Ice, who then drew a five-pitch walk off of Kaprielian to bring in the go-ahead run. Kaprielian was removed in favor of sophomore Jake Ehret after that as Ehret came in to face Caleb Hamilton. Ehret would go on to walk Hamilton, scoring Howard to give the Beavers a 4-2 lead. The Bruins went down in order in the top of the ninth and Oregon State earned the 4-2 win.
Sophomore Christoph Bono led the Bruins with two hits on the evening while Moore went 1-4 with two RBI.
UCLA (23-23-1, 10-12 Pac-12) and Oregon State (36-8, 18-4 Pac-12) will continue their series tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Goss Stadium. The game will again be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.
Game Notes: Nick Kern made his first collegiate start in the Bruins’ lineup tonight, starting at designated hitter after making 29 appearances out of the bullpen this season…Shane Zeile threw out his Pac-12 leading 17th base stealer of the season tonight, throwing out Dylan Davis in the fourth…Zeile has also now reached base safely in 28 of his last 31 games and has logged at least one hit in 14 of his last 17 contests…Christoph Bono and Ty Moore reached base safely for the seventh consecutive game…James Kaprielian logged at least six innings for the 11th time in 13 starts this year…seven of UCLA’s nine starting hitters recorded at least one hit in the ballgame…all six runs in tonight’s game were scored with two outs...UCLA lost for just the fourth time this year when out-hitting the opponent.