The dugouts at Jackie Robinson Stadium emptied after 8 1/2 innings, the frustrations of a tightly fought 2-1 decision — a home win for UCLA — boiling over Saturday afternoon.
Bruin starting pitcher Trevor Bauer was covering first base on the final play, closing his eighth complete game this season when Cal first baseman Devon Rodriguez was called out on what would have been a game-tying RBI single. Then Bauer turned and said something to his former Hart High teammate.
It was enough to set off Rodriguez, who had to be held back, and both benches. The eruption was over quickly though, one of those moments that never show up in box scores. What will be etched there is a gem by Bauer in what was likely the national strikeout leader’s last game at UCLA.
The junior, a probable first-round selection in July’s MLB Draft, struck out eight in his seventh straight complete game. Bauer (11-2, 1.34 ERA) breezed through the early innings after allowing a double in the first, retiring the side the next three frames. He needed only six pitches to finish off the top of the third.
On the rubber for Cal (30-17, 13-10 in the Pac-10) was Dixon Anderson, who entered the game having given up 10 earned runs in his past eight innings. Anderson (4-3, 3.84 ERA) looked just as shaky early on. After an error at second put a runner on first, the 6-foot-6, 224-pound junior walked the next batter and hit the one after to load the bases with no outs. A double play helped limit the damage to one run.
Anderson’s control remained spotty through the next two frames — all four of his walks came in the first three innings. In the bottom of the third, he walked first baseman Dean Espy and gave up a double by left fielder Cody Keefer. With runners on second and third, a sac fly to deep center gave UCLA (30-20, 15-8) a 2-0 lead.
It was around then that the Bruins’ ace, the once-blue cap atop his head sun-bleached to gray, started to fade. Cal center fielder Chad Bunting took two balls, then sailed a solo shot over left center top open the top of the third. It was the Bears’ second hit of the day.
They would connect three more times that afternoon, but Bauer used a devastating curveball to make sure Bunting was the only one to cross home plate, closing the fifth with back-to-back strikeouts on 0-2 counts.
The righty wasn’t quite as sharp through the last four frames, walking shortstop Marcus Semien in the sixth on the payoff pitch and putting Cal in scoring position in each of the last three innings. He ran into the most trouble in the top of the eighth, when left fielder Austin Booker singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Semien grounded out.
Cal’s Logan Scott shut out the Bruins in 2 2/3 innings of relief, striking out two of the seven batters he faced. Sophomore Justin Jones takes the mound tomorrow for the Bears at 1 p.m.
Jack Wang covers baseball.