The UCLA Baseball team lost a close one on Friday night, falling to the Oregon Ducks in the opening game of the series by a score of, 2-1, at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Tommy Thorpe (9-4) earned the win for the Ducks, allowing one run on four hits in 6.2 innings pitched. Sophomore James Kaprielian was the tough luck loser, pitching a complete game while allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits and striking out 11. Jake Reed picked up his 12th save of the year for Oregon with 1.2 innings in relief.
The game proved to be a pitcher’s duel in the early going, as both Thorpe and Kaprielian held the opponent scoreless for the first five innings. Kaprielian retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced and did not allow a hit until the top of the fifth when Mitchell Tolman singled to lead off the frame. A sacrifice bunt moved Tolman up to second before a wild pitch brought him to third with one out. Kaprielian settled in though and got back-to-back strikeouts of A.J. Balta and Josh Graham to keep the Ducks off the board.
Oregon would take the lead, however, in the top of the sixth. Nick Catalano led off with a single through the left side before moving up to second on a sacrifice bunt. Kaprielian was able to get the next batter, but with two outs Tyler Baumgartner singled to center to score Catalano and give the Ducks the lead. The Bruins looked for the tying run in the bottom half of the inning, as junior Shane Zeile led off with a double to left. Sophomore Ty Moore moved him up to third with a sacrifice bunt of his own, but freshman Nick Kern and sophomore Christoph Bono both grounded out on the next at-bats to end the inning.
The Ducks would then tack on an insurance run in the top of the seventh to give themselves a two-run lead. Tolman led off the inning with a double before moving up to third on a bunt single by Shaun Chase. That brought up Balta, who laid down a safety squeeze down the first base line. Tolman did not take off initially, but after senior Pat Gallagher recorded the out at first to get Balta Tolman broke for home. Freshman Luke Persico fired the ball to Zeile at the plate, but Zeile was unable to hold on to the ball allowing Tolman to score to make it 2-0, Oregon.
The Bruins would battle back in the bottom half of the inning though, starting when senior Aaron Weimer drew a walk off of Thorpe with two outs. The Ducks brought in Garrett Cleavinger after that and Cleavinger proceeded to walk the next two batters to load the bases for Zeile. Zeile was able to draw a hit by pitch from Cleavinger, bringing in Weimer and cutting Oregon’s lead down to one. Oregon again went to bullpen after that, bringing in Trent Paddon to face Moore with the bases loaded. Paddon would strike out Moore though, ending the threat and keeping the Ducks ahead.
UCLA continued to fight and was almost able to find the tying run in the bottom of the eighth. Sophomore Justin Hazard led off with a walk before being pinch-run for by senior Brian Carroll. A sacrifice and a single by Persico then put runners at the corners with one out for Gallagher. Gallagher came up and laid down a great squeeze bunt, but Tolman charged in from first and was able to get Carroll at the plate for the second out. Weimer then came to bat and on the first pitch laced a single to left that looked to have a shot at scoring Persico. However, Oregon’s Austin Grebeck threw out Persico at the plate to end the inning. UCLA went down in order in its half of the ninth and Oregon went home with a 2-1 win.
At the plate, Zeile led the UCLA offense with a double and a RBI while Weimer contributed a hit and a run as well.
The Bruins (23-27-1, 10-15 Pac-12) and Ducks (38-16, 15-10 Pac-12) will continue their series tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The game will again be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.
Game Notes: James Kaprielian’s complete game was the first of his career and the second this season for the Bruins…Kaprielian’s 11 strikeouts were also one shy of his career-high and marked the fourth time this season that he has posted double-digit strikeouts in a game…Kaprielian has now allowed two runs or less in 10 of his 14 starts this year and has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts…Ty Moore has now reached base safely in 11 consecutive games, logging at least one hit in his last seven…Aaron Weimer has also now reached base safely in his last eight games…tonight was the 17th one-run ballgame the Bruins have played this season.