Kevin Kramer mans third base versus USC, Credit: Jeff Poirier
The No. 9 UCLA baseball team used a steady offensive attack and lights-out pitching to complete the season sweep of UC Irvine on Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins topped the Anteaters by a final score of 8-1 just two weeks after taking a 6-4 extra-inning victory in Irvine.
The midweek win lifted UCLA’s record to 28-13 overall, and provided another boost to the Bruins’ resume. As the calendar turns to May, every notch in the win column could be the difference between hosting a regional and hitting the road for NCAA play. UCLA has now won four straight games versus UCI, and holds a 49-28-1 edge in the all-time series between the University of California counterparts.
Freshman righty Cody Poteet secured the W after allowing no runs on two hits in 6.0 innings of work. The outing was the first in which Poteet flashed his developing dominance, as he registered five strikeouts with zero walks. The Anteaters only mustered two hits through the first six innings, and by then UCLA had already built itself a sizable lead. It was a confidence-building performance for Poteet, whose record improved to 3-4 with the decision.
Offensively, UCLA was able to get the job done and then some, plating eight runs on 13 hits. The Bruins got on the board first in the home half of the third inning when catcher Shane Zeile hit a sacrifice fly to right to score OF Eric Filia. Then, after adding runs in the fifth and sixth, UCLA exploded for five runs in the bottom of the seventh to kill any chance at an Irvine comeback.
Sophomore 3B Kevin Kramer led the way for the Bruins at the plate, tallying 3 RBIs on 2-for-5 hitting to go with two runs scored. His bases-clearing triple in the seventh is what broke the game open for UCLA. Junior Brenton Allen also had a solid game, going 3-for-5 with an RBI as the designated hitter. It was the first three-hit game of his career. However, in spite of the success, the Bruins still stranded 14 runners in the contest, so there’s work left to be done.
Looking forward, UCLA will continue its eight-game homestand this weekend against Utah (16-23, 5-16 Pac-12). The Utes, who have lost six straight games, are currently in last place in the conference. As a result, they’ll come into Westwood with nothing to lose, which could make them a surprisingly dangerous squad.
The Bruins will need to keep their eyes on the prize down the home stretch of the season, and that means taking care of Utah. A sweep of the lowly Utes would greatly bolster UCLA’s Pac-12 title hopes, while losing even one game could seal the deal for the Bruins.