Brant Hurter made his first start of the season against freshman righty Jesse Bergin (1-0, 0.00 ERA). The rubber game was played in windy but perfect late winter weather after two gloomy games the previous days, and the Bruins took full advantage.
The first drama of the game came in the top of the second when UCLA loaded the bases with two outs on a single, double, and hit batsman. But, Hurter notched his fifth K of the game to keep it scoreless.
The Jackets missed their own chance to score in their third when Jackson Webb reached 2nd with one out. A thrown away pick off gave him a chance – that he didn’t take – to go to 3rd where Murray’s fly ball would have scored him. Nick Wilhite’s defense saved a run in the top of the 4th with a great running catch over his head deep in center field and a runner going from 1st.
Tech got their first hit in the 4th when McCann smashed one off the right center wall for a double, but he got no further than third base so it was scoreless still. It didn’t stay so long, as the Bruins used small ball to score in their 5th with a single, bunt, wild pitch, and RBI groundout.
Brandt left for Keyton Gibson after giving up two quick singles in the 6th. Keyton hit the first batter and gave up a run on a sac fly before striking out a pinch hitter for out two. Luke Bartnicki came in with runners first and second, but was pulled for Jonathan Hughes after he hit a batter to load the bases. Tech couldn’t afford to fall farther behind, and Jonathan did his part with a strikeout of a pinch hitter.
In their 7th, the Bruins got the kind of luck that good teams get. A bouncer exactly down the left field line just cleared Serratos’ glove for a double. A poor comeback bunt should have gotten the runner at 3rd, but Hughes threw wide for an error and the run scored. After another single and pop out, a blooper fell in no man’s land behind 2nd for the fourth run. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Hughes took charge and got a K for out two and picked the runner off 2nd for out three, which was reviewed with no change.
Hadley relieved Bergin, who had held Tech scoreless on two hits, for the 7th. Hadley loaded the bases with a walk, single, and error on the second baseman, but got Colin Hall to ground out to keep Tech scoreless. Kyle Mora struck out the side in the Tech 8th, including McCann who had beaten him Friday in the 11th.
UCLA added two runs they wouldn’t need in their ninth, on a homer by Kreidler off Jake Lee and a bases loaded walk by Will Shirah before Hugh Chapman finally ended the damage. Holden Powell then completed the 6-0 shutout despite Tech getting runners to second and third in their ninth. Hurter got the loss, Bergin the win and the Jackets suffered their first shutout since highly ranked Louisville in 2017.
The Tech batters are clearly behind the pitching this season, especially elite pitching. Only Kyle McCann and Austin Wilhite have as many as 7 hits and only they and Jackson Webb and Michael Guldberg are over .300 over the first six games. All the other starters, including injured Luke Waddell, are sub .200! The Jackets have been outscored 18 – 31 runs in those six games while going 3-3, and the team BA is barely .200. To be fair, they usually play teams far below UCLA in February. I think playing these three games, especially winning one, will be a net positive this year. The competition gets a bit easier for the next seven games, but everybody wants to beat GT.