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UCLA Baseball Staves Off Pac-12 Tournament Elimination, Beats Cal in Extras

The Bruins staged a late comeback and piled on runs in the 10th to stay alive another day in Scottsdale.

Late Wednesday night, the Bruins were sent into the losers bracket by the Golden Bears.

Two days later, the blue and gold enacted their revenge and eliminated their neighbors to the north in a high-scoring, extra-innings showdown.

Freshman shortstop Ethan Gourson and sophomore third baseman Kyle Karros teamed up for back-to-back RBI singles in the top of the 10th to lift No. 3 seed UCLA baseball (37-21, 19-11 Pac-12) ahead of No. 6 seed Cal (29-27, 14-16 Pac-12) by two runs. The extra-innings rally helped the Bruins secure the 9-7 win and advance to Saturday’s action, where they will meet No. 2 seed Oregon State.

Despite the eventual victory for the Bruins, the contest was back-and-forth throughout, with the Golden Bears holding the lead for most of the affair.

Redshirt sophomore right-hander Kelly Austin toed the mound for the start against Cal and faced immediate trouble after allowing a two-run home run in the bottom of the first. The Golden Bears added on another run while the Bruins scored three via a groundout and two sacrifice flies to tie it up at three.

Austin eventually allowed six runs, but only three were earned for the former JuCo product.

Gourson, meanwhile, contributed to the Bruins taking their first lead of the night. The left-handed hitter drove a sinking liner into left-center field that rolled to the wall and allowed graduate first baseman Jake Palmer and sophomore left fielder JonJon Vaughns to score and put UCLA ahead 5-3.

However, the lead was short-lived when gaffes in the infield turned that advantage into a deficit.

Three tailor-made double-play balls were grounded to Gourson, sophomore second baseman Daylen Reyes and Palmer in the bottom of the fourth, but all three Bruins could not corral the hits smashed towards them, allowing three unearned runs in a four-run frame that gave the Golden Bears a 7-5 lead.

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UCLA was down to their final six outs in the top of the eighth, but worked together in a rally started by Vaughns. The two-sport athlete reached on an infield single to start the frame, beating the pitcher to the bag with his top-notch speed tool.

Palmer – the Bruins' batting average leader on the season – ripped a double into the left-center gap, bringing Vaughns all the way home to cut the lead to one. The former UC Irvine transfer advanced to third on a bunt by Reyes and crossed home himself to tie the game at seven on a bloop single into short center field by junior right fielder Michael Curialle.

Vaughns’ appearance marked his first since May 14 against Washington State. The 6-foot-2 power threat hit 2-for-3 with a walk out of the nine-hole spot in the lineup.

A much-needed performance from a senior-freshman combination was able to hold Cal scoreless from the fifth inning onward and give the offense the chance it needed to stage a comeback. Senior lefty Daniel Colwell – who recently became the midweek starting pitcher for UCLA in lieu of injuries – hurled 3.1 no-hit innings while striking out two batters.

Freshman righty Luke Jewett followed up his teammate with 2.2 innings of his own, striking out one, walking one and allowing two hits to close things out in extras. The JSerra Catholic (CA) product earned the victory – his third of the season – and helped the Bruins advance to fight another day.

Despite the score being close throughout, UCLA was unable to capitalize on a plethora of scoring opportunities. The blue and gold hit 4-for-22 with runners in scoring position and grounded into three double plays.

Like Thursday, freshman shortstop and the Bruins' home run leader Cody Schrier was unavailable to play. The elimination game was only the fourth game that the right-handed hitter had missed all season long and third in the last 10 days.

On Saturday afternoon, UCLA will return to Scottsdale Stadium for a shot to make the first-ever Pac-12 Championship Game. The Bruins will have to defeat No. 2 Oregon State twice to advance, while the Beavers would have to win once to play for the title.

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