Behind another strong performance on the mound from junior Grant Watson and a three-run first inning, the 22nd-ranked UCLA Baseball team defeated Washington State on Saturday afternoon by a score of 4-2 at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Watson tossed eight innings for the Bruins, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out five. Joe Pistorese took the loss for Washington State after giving up four runs on seven hits in eight innings pitched. Junior David Berg logged his sixth save of the year with a scoreless ninth inning.
UCLA took the early lead in the bottom of the first, starting when senior Brian Carroll and sophomore Christoph Bono led off with back-to-back infield singles. With runners on first and third, junior Shane Zeile then hit a bloop single to center to score Carroll, making it 1-0 Bruins. After a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, freshman Luke Persico stepped in and singled through the left side, scoring Zeile and Bono to give UCLA a three-run lead.
Washington State did get one back in the top of the second though after P.J. Jones singled and advanced to third on an error in center by Carroll. The next batter was Patrick McGrath, who grounded out to shortstop to score Jones to cut UCLA’s lead to 3-1. However, UCLA would bring its lead back up to three in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs and sophomore Trent Chatterton on second, Carroll ripped a singled to left, scoring Chatterton and making it 4-1 in favor of the Bruins.
After a scoreless third inning, the Cougars added a run in the top of the fourth. Washington State loaded the bases with one out to bring up McGrath, who then singled to left to score Collin Slaybaugh, cutting UCLA’s lead back to two. Watson did well to limit the damage though, getting a groundout back to the pitcher and a strikeout to end the threat.
From there the pitching took over, as Watson retired the next 14 batters to keep UCLA’s lead at 4-2. Berg then entered in the ninth and made quick work of the Cougars to seal the victory for the Bruins.
At the plate, Zeile and Carroll led UCLA with 2-4 games that included a run and a RBI each. Persico added two RBI of his own while Chatterton went 1-3 with a run scored.
UCLA (13-8, 4-1 Pac-12) and Washington State (9-10, 3-2 Pac-12) will conclude their three-game series tomorrow at 1 p.m. out at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Sophomore Cody Poteet will start the series finale on the mound for the Bruins.
Game Notes: UCLA improved its record to 23-4 in the last two seasons when scoring in the first inning…the Bruins are also now 39-8 since the start of 2013 when scoring first…Shane Zeile recorded his team-leading eighth multi-hit game of the year with his 2-4 day…David Berg made his 118th career appearance in today’s game, which is one appearance shy of tying the school record set by Bill Wenrick (1984-87)…Berg also recorded his 31st career save in today’s game…Grant Watson has now pitched eight innings in three of his last four starts…in his last four starts, Watson is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA…Watson also improved his career record as a starter to 22-5 with his victory today…Watson and Berg combined to retire the final 17 hitters of the game…this was the sixth consecutive game that UCLA has held the opposition to two runs or fewer…UCLA has now won its last 52 games when leading after seven innings…today’s game time of 2:04 was the shortest game of the year for the Bruins.