After splitting the first two games against the defending Pac-12 baseball champions, UCLA fell behind by three runs early to Oregon State in Saturday's series finale at Jackie Robinson Stadium. But the Bruins (23-6, 10-2) didn't panic.
Instead, they slowly started chipping away at the lead, scoring a run in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to tie the score before erupting for five runs in the eighth inning to assure the series victory with a 10-5 win.
"They put up five in the fourth [inning], so we knew we had time," UCLA second baseman Trent Chatterton said. "We just tried to mark in every inning and just get one [run] and that's what we did."
Chatterton played a big part, driving in three runs on the day, including the tying run with an RBI groundout in the sixth inning and then providing the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded single in the eighth inning. Two batters after Chatterton, Brett Stephens hit a two-out fly ball that Oregon State left fielder Kyle Nobach lost in the lights.
With a full count and two outs, all three runners were running on the pitch and were able to come around to score before Nobach could retrieve the ball after it landed behind him only a few steps from his initial positioning. Luke Persico followed with an RBI double for the final tally.
The Bruins were able to climb back into the game because of the stellar work of their bullpen. After Nobach had a two-run single and Elliott Cary hit a two-run homer off of freshman starter Griffin Canning in the fourth inning, Coach John Savage went to his bullpen.
Cody Poteet gave up a single to the second batter he faced. That was the Beavers last hit of the game. Poteet pitched 2 2/3 innings and struck out three to keep the Bruins in the game.
"He really saved the day," Savage said. "Our bullpen went 5 2/3 [innings] with one hit and didn't give up any. That's been one of our strengths for sure this season is our bullpen and Cody now adds another piece to it."
Finishing off the final two innings was All-American closer David Berg, who has been impeccable in Pac-12 play. Berg has pitched 16 scoreless innings, giving up just one walk and eight hits (seven of which came in a six-inning effort against Washington) while he has struck out 22.
To go along with the win he earned Saturday, Berg also picked up a win in the extra-inning affair against Washington and has recorded five saves in the Bruins' first 12 conference games.
One of those saves came the night before when UCLA evened the series with Oregon State (22-9, 5-4), winning 4-1 behind six scoreless innings from Grant Watson (5-2) and two RBIs from Kevin Kramer.
The Bruins had their eight-game winning streak snapped in the opener, 3-2. The Bruins would have tied the score in the bottom of the ninth inning if not for a great diving catch by Nobach.
Trailing 3-1, Ty Moore hit one hard for what looked like a sure-fire RBI extra-base hit, but Nobach made a full-extension dive in the left-center field gap and made the grab. Chris Keck followed with a single that scored a run, but without Nobach's defensive prowess, the tying run would have scored.
UCLA ace James Kaprielian took the loss despite striking out nine in 5 2/3 innings and not giving up an earned run. But a dropped foul pop fly that could have ended the inning was followed by four straight batters reaching with two runs coming in to score. Two was enough for Oregon State starter Andrew Moore, who allowed just an unearned run on four hits in 7 2/3 innings to earn the win.
With the series victory, UCLA remains in first place in the Pac-12 standings and sets up a potential showdown for the top spot with crosstown rival USC next weekend. The Bruins will travel to Dedeaux Field to take on the No. 9 Trojans with the first game slated to begin Friday at 3 p.m. PDT.