Last week, the UCLA baseball team needed to come from behind twice to defeat Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Last Tuesday, UCLA used a pair of bunt singles to escape with a 2-1 win over visiting Pepperdine.
On Thursday night, No. 6 UCLA needed extra innings to emerge victorious and extend its win streak to 22 games with a 6-5 decision over No. 19 Stanford at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Sophomore Dean Espy was the hero, blooping a single to center field to score Niko Gallego from third base in the 10th inning. It wasn't pretty, but the streak is alive.
"I didn’t think it was going to work," Espy said. "But I knew, once I saw the outfielder busting in, even if he slid, we were still going to score."
The contest went into extras following a shake-your-head baserunning mistake by Stanford's Tyler Gaffney in the top of the ninth inning. With the score tied at 5-5 and Gaffney standing on second base, Jake Schlander singled off UCLA closer Dan Klein. Left fielder Cody Keefer didn't have a play at the plate, so he threw the ball to second base to prevent Schlander from advancing.
But while rounding third base, Gaffney slipped on the wet grass and fell. Instead of returning to third, he sped home.
UCLA second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla hesitated before throwing a strike to catcher Steve Rodriguez as Gaffney charged toward the plate. The ball got there before him, so Gaffney tried to hurdle over Rodriguez but was unsuccessful.
"We caught a huge break with Gaffney slipping – he was scoring, he was in," head coach John Savage said. "We were fortunate."
UCLA and Stanford (12-8, 2-2) meet again tonight at 6 p.m. Right-hander Trevor Bauer will get the ball for the Bruins.