April 26, 2009


CBI Live
Bruins battle to take series from Beavers


By Abbey Mastracco

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com

LOS ANGELES - The question on the Westside this weekend was who could hold a lead. Standout defenses and clutch pitching performances made it impossible to determine a winner until the very last innings in the Pac-10 match between No. 20 Oregon State (9-6, 24-11) and UCLA (11-7, 19-21).

So when the Beavers’ defense began to unravel in the seventh, the Bruins took full advantage of it. And the answer to the question was UCLA, as they were able to hold on to a 5-2 lead Sunday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium, to take a 2-1 series win.

“It seems like we’re finally getting over the hump a little bit,” said UCLA head coach John Savage. “We beat a very, very good Oregon State team, a Top-20 team, this weekend and we needed to.”

Sunday’s win earned the Bruins their second straight Pac-10 series win and should give their RPI a boost. The key series victory keeps them in postseason contention, although they still remain on the bubble.

“I think you can say that we’re a team that’s certainly in the mix but we just have to keep playing,” Savage said.

Sunday’s game unfolded much the same way Friday and Saturday’s games had, with Oregon State taking a slim lead in the first and UCLA coming back to tie with a solo shot a few innings later. The Beavers put up one more in the fifth, and the Bruins manufactured two more of their own to take a 3-2 lead in bottom half.

Things quickly went downhill for the Beavers in the seventh when the stellar defense that had been on display all weekend began to crumble. Oregon State allowed two more runs to score on three costly errors.

With two outs and Steve Rodriguez still on first after a leadoff single, Oregon State reliever James Nygren threw wild to first trying to hold the runner on. The ball drifted all the way back to the visitor’s bullpen and Rodriguez reached third.

Blair Dunlap then reached safely when first baseman Carter Bell dropped the ball behind him on a routine putout. Cody Decker then lined a single down the left field line driving in Rodriguez. But left fielder Rob Folsom dropped the ball trying to throw to third, allowing Dunlap to come around and give the Bruins a 5-2 lead.

Gavin Brooks, after blowing the save in Saturday’s game, came on the mound to get the last out after Matt Grace and Jason Novak held the Beavers scoreless for 3.2.

“You can only say so much about Grace and Novak and what they did,” Savage said. “But we needed Gavin at the end. Gavin knew how important this series was for us, that it was really, really critical to win this series.”

Pinch-hitter Adalberto Santos worked the southpaw for a long at-bat but eventually popped a lazy fly to center for the last out. The save was Brooks’ seventh.

“Last night was tough,” Brooks said. “To be cruising like that after we did so well and battled back. I was pretty upset last night and I didn’t want to let that happen again.”

Right-hander Charles Brewer (2-4) got the win, giving up two earned runs off six hits and striking out four in five innings. The Beavers’ Jorge Reyes took the loss, just his second of the season. Reyes lasted six innings, giving up three runs (one earned) off six hits, walking three and blanking seven.

The freshmen led the game for UCLA with Rodriguez going 3 for 3, scoring three runs and driving in one, while Tyler Rahmatulla finished 3 for 4.

Ryan Ortiz finished off a big offensive series going 2 for 3 with a RBI. Joey Wong went 2 for 4 and scored twice.