UCLA walk-off win against Gonzaga keeps weekend series mark perfect

UCLA baseball rallies for walk-off win to take series against Gonzaga

Ty Moore roped a high fastball past a diving first baseman and down the right-field line, enabling Brett Stephens to score the game-winning run from second base to give UCLA a 6-5 walk-off win. The Bruins (33-11) came streaming out of the Jackie Robinson Stadium dugout, rushing to greet Moore at first base.

It was the culmination of a four-inning swing that saved the Bruins' weekend. The No. 2-ranked UCLA baseball team nearly saw its perfect record in weekend series come to an end on Sunday, but it wasn't at the hands of a top-tier Pac-12 opponent.

Instead, it was the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who currently aren't even slotted to make the West Coast Conference's four-team tournament, that had the Bruins on the ropes.

"It was a grind. Gonzaga played very well," Coach John Savage said. "We were fortunate to win that series. There's no question about it. They outplayed us for about 2 1/2 games. To our credit, we stayed with it and bounced back and ended up winning the series."

Gonzaga (21-23) chased starter Griffin Canning after four innings, and Taylor Jones blasted a two-run homer against UCLA key reliever Grant Dyer to put the Bulldogs up 5-1 in the fifth inning.

The Bruins were undeterred. They answered with a run in the bottom half of the fifth when Stephens stole home while Moore was caught in a rundown during a double steal attempt with two outs.

UCLA came all the way back the next inning. After a sacrifice fly, Christoph Bono's two-out double brought the Bruins within a run. Bono then tied the score, 5-5, when Trent Chatterton hit a grounder to shortstop and reached base on a fielding error.

The Bulldogs had their chances. They got the lead-off man on base in each of the final three innings, putting the go-ahead run just 90 feet away in the top of the ninth inning. But UCLA relievers Tucker Forbes and David Berg did not surrender a hit in the final three innings.

The Bruins were able to get to Gonzaga closer David Bigelow for the game-winner in his fourth inning of work. Stephens hit a one-out single up the middle and advanced to second when Kevin Kramer walked, bringing up Moore, who finished with three hits and two RBIs.

Berg earned his fifth win of the season two days after he set the NCAA career appearance record with his 162nd outing out of the UCLA bullpen.

Gonzaga was in position to win the series after beating UCLA, 6-1, on Saturday. A five-run seventh inning was more than enough support for starter Brandon Bailey, who tossed a gem. He scattered seven hits in 7 2/3 innings and did not give up a run.

UCLA ace James Kaprielian produced a very similar line in a 3-0 shutout Friday night. Kaprielian struck out six and allowed just four hits in 7 2/3 innings to earn his eighth win of the season. Chris Keck and Stephens each had three hits and drove in a run in the win.

The Bruins will try to continue their momentum against WCC opponents on Tuesday, when they host defending conference champion Pepperdine at 6 p.m. 

UCLA will then hit the road, traveling to Tempe to take on Arizona State in a battle for first place in the Pac-12. The Bruins currently hold a two-game advantage on the Sun Devils after ASU dropped a series at California over the weekend.

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