Despite taking an early lead, the 13th-ranked UCLA Baseball team couldn’t hold it as the Bruins fell to Houston by a score of 4-3 on Saturday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Jake Lemoine earned the victory for the Cougars, giving up three runs on 10 hits in seven innings pitched. Lemoine also struck out four. Junior Max Schuh took the loss, pitching 0.2 innings in relief and allowing one unearned run. Junior Grant Watson started the game for the Bruins, scattering eight hits in six innings of work while striking out one.
UCLA jumped on Lemoine early by scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. Senior Brian Carroll led off with a single up the middle and two batters later moved to third on a single by junior Shane Zeile. Then with two outs, freshman Luke Persico drove in Carroll with a single to left to make it 1-0 Bruins. Sophomore Christoph Bono followed that up with a single of his own to score Zeile and give the Bruins a two-run advantage before senior Pat Gallagher brought home Persico with a single to left, making it 3-0 UCLA.
Houston got one back in the top of the third when with Kyle Survance on second, Frankie Ratcliff hit a grounder to third that got through junior Chris Keck. Survance was able to score on the error and the Cougars cut UCLA’s lead to two. Watson kept the Cougars off the board for the next two innings, but Houston added another run in the top of the sixth. After getting the first two batters of the inning, Watson allowed back-to-back singles to Justin Montemayor and Josh Vidales to put runners at first and third. The next batter was Caleb Barker, who hit a single to right-center that just eluded the grasp of a diving Bono to score Montemayor and make it a one-run game. With runners still on first and third, Watson came up big though, striking out Jordan Stading with a great curve ball on a 3-2 count to keep the UCLA lead.
The Cougars eventually went ahead in the top of the seventh, scoring two after Watson had exited the game. After freshman Grant Dyer allowed a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Michael Pyeatt, Pyeatt moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt. Then with Schuh in the game, Pyeatt came home to score as Ratcliff reached on an error by Trent Chatterton at short, tying the game at 3-3. A wild pitch moved Ratcliff up to second and then Montemayor drove him in with a single to center, making it 4-3 in Houston’s favor. On the play, Ratcliff crossed the plate just before Carroll threw out Casey Grayson at third to give the Cougars the lead.
UCLA tried to get something going in the bottom half of the eighth, as sophomore Ty Moore led off with a single. However, on the next at-bat Zeile flew out to center and Moore was doubled off of first, ending the threat. UCLA failed to score in the ninth and the Cougars went on to win 4-3.
Overall, Gallagher went 3-4 with three singles and a RBI for the Bruins while Persico went 2-3 with a run scored and a RBI. Montemayor led Houston with two hits and a RBI.
The Bruins (7-7) will now head across to town to square off against rivals USC (8-5) at the Trojans’ Dedeaux Field at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Sophomore Cody Poteet will take the mound in the weekend series finale for UCLA.
Game Notes: With his appearance today, junior David Berg has now appeared in 112 games in his career, passing Chuck Yaeger (1981-84) for second-most all-time in school history...with his 1-4 game, Brian Carroll has now reached base safely in his last 10 games…Shane Zeile also extended his streak to eight games of reaching base safely…Zeile has now recorded at least one hit in 11 of his first 14 games played this season...this was just the fourth game in the last two seasons where the Bruins scored in the first inning and did not win the ballgame…three of the four runs scored by Houston today were unearned…seven of UCLA’s nine starting batters recorded at least one hit in today’s game.