The UCLA Baseball team earned a series victory on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Utah Utes, 7-3, at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sophomore Cody Poteet picked up the win to improve to 3-2, giving up just three runs (two earned) on five hits in six innings pitched. Poteet struck out five batters as well. Zach Adams took the loss for the Utes to drop to 0-2 on the year, pitching four innings and allowing five runs on 10 hits while striking out a batter.
The Bruins struck first in the top of the second with a run off of Adams. Senior Kevin Williams led off the inning with a triple to right-center and on the next at-bat came around to score as freshman Luke Persico brought him in with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 1-0 Bruins. Utah tied things up in similar fashion in its half of the inning though. Wyler Smith led off with a triple down the left field line before scoring on a RBI groundout by Konnor Armijo to tie the game at 1-1.
However, the tie would be short-lived as UCLA scored four runs in the top of the third. With two outs, junior Shane Zeile singled up the middle before moving to second on a wild pitch. Williams then logged his second hit of the day, singling to center to bring around Zeile and give the lead back to the Bruins. After Persico singled Williams over to second, sophomore Christoph Bono hit a chopper through the right side to score Williams to make the score 3-1 in UCLA’s favor. The next batter was sophomore Justin Hazard, who blooped a double down the left field line to score Persico and Williams, making the score UCLA 5, Utah 1.
That would be all the run support that Poteet would need, as he kept the Utes off the board for the next three innings by retiring eight of the nine batters he faced in those innings. In the bottom of the sixth, Utah threatened by getting runners on second and third with one out to bring up Max Schuman. Schuman would bring home a run with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 5-2 Bruins, but Poteet got TJ Bennett to fly out on the next at-bat to limit the scoring to one.
UCLA would add two runs in the top of the seventh to increase its lead to five. After freshman Brett Stephens and sophomore Ty Moore led off the inning with a single and a hit by pitch, they moved up to second and third on a wild pitch. Zeile then brought the runners home with a single to left to give the Bruins a 7-2 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, Utah got the first two batters on via an error and a single to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Poteet was relieved by sophomore Jake Ehret after that to face Hunter Simmons. Ehret got Simmons to ground into a 1-6-3 double play to get two crucial outs, though a run scored on the play to cut UCLA’s lead to 7-3. Ehret then got a groundout on the next at-bat to end the threat and keep the Bruins ahead going to the eighth.
Zeile led the UCLA offense with a 3-5 day that included two RBI and a run scored. Williams added two hits, two runs and a RBI of his own while Hazard went 2-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Finally, Bono went 2-4 with a run and a RBI in the ballgame.
UCLA (21-16, 9-6 Pac-12) returns home this week starting with a midweek game on Tuesday, April 22 against Loyola Marymount (24-16) at 6 p.m. out at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Game Notes: Justin Hazard’s two doubles in today’s game are a new single-game career-high…Ty Moore got hit by his team-leading 12th pitch of the season…four of UCLA’s seven runs in today’s ballgame came with two outs…Shane Zeile logged his team-leading 16th multi-hit game of the year with his three hits in today’s game…Zeile also raised his batting average to a team-high .328 in Pac-12 play…Cody Poteet has walked only one batter in his last 22 innings pitched…Max Schuh has not allowed an earned run in his last 17 appearances (13 IP)…UCLA improved to 59-4 since the start of the 2013 season when holding the opponent to three runs or fewer…the Bruins are also now 58-1 in the last two seasons when leading after the seventh inning…UCLA’s pitching staff has now allowed three runs or fewer to their opponent in 14 of the last 23 games…eight of UCLA’s nine hitters recorded at least one hit in today’s game.