Baseball is pain. Don’t ever let anybody convince you otherwise.
Stanford had Tristan Beck and a two-run lead two different times tonight. It had Colton Hock and a two-run lead with three outs to go. Then UCLA grabbed their bats and wrecked my Friday night. An errant throw from Nico Hoerner and a single put Hock behind the 8-ball right away, and four batters later UCLA had a 6-5 win in Game 2 of the series.
Hock, who’d been effective the night before on the very same mound, just had no answers for the Bruins in the ninth. Four of the six batters he faced had hits, punctuated by Kort Pederson’s game-winning single that sent the Bruins charging out of their dugout and onto the field in celebration of a game they’d all but gift-wrapped for Stanford.
The Cardinal broke through in the third inning. Hoerner singled sharply up the middle to drive home Jack Klein, who reached on a steal that appeared to be a botched hit and run attempt. Two batters later, Mikey Diekroger drove home Hoerner.
UCLA scratched off Beck in the fourth when Chris Bouchard tripled into the right centerfield gap. Beck bounced back to retire Luke Persico and strand Bouchard. Bouchard was problem for Beck all night, going 3-4 and driving in two runs.
Beck was not dominant, and let’s all talk about the fact that a six-inning three-run performance in which he walked two and struck out eight is a disappointment. Tristan’s biggest problem was a lack of fastball command, as he was consistently up and out of the zone or up in the zone, where UCLA’s bats were waiting.
After UCLA tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, Beck still had a chance to be the winning pitcher (proving once again how useless pitcher wins are as a measure of anything), as the Bruin defense got charitable. UCLA dropped a pop-up to short left down the line and they dropped an out at first with the pitcher covering. Consequently, Stanford had two runs and a 5-3 lead.
Kris Bubic came on in the bottom of the seventh and locked down UCLA, retiring six straight on only 20 pitches to get the ball to Hock. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t work out as well as the Cardinal had hoped on this night. Bubic, as a reliever, could definitely sympathize and talked about what it takes to bounce back from the disappointment.
“You just gotta have really short memory. You’re going out there almost every night, you have to be ready to contribute, whether it’s one batter, one innings, two innings, so you just gotta have a short memory and be able to pound that zone.”
As far as Coach Marquess’ message to the squad afterwards, Bubic said, “the main message is that we got beat tonight. We did some good things of course, but kind of gave that away. But, we’ll come back and win the series tomorrow.”
Nine was unsure when asked about a starter for the finale, but acknowledged Brett Hanewich or Andrew Summerville would certainly get consideration.
And now let us never speak of this night again.