FULLERTON -- Things may appear bleak now, but UCLA head coach John Savage is confident that brighter days are ahead.
He senses a shift coming.
The Bruins fell again Tuesday night, this time to local rival Cal State Fullerton, 5-3, before 1,910 at Goodwin Field. It was UCLA's seventh loss in the last 11 games and ninth on the season. Last spring, the national runner-up Bruins (11-9) didn't lose their ninth game until May 1.
"It's been frustrating," Savage said. "We've played a lot of tight ballgames. Tonight was a microcosm of our season."
UCLA, which began the season at No. 1 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and had dropped to No. 24 heading into Tuesday, had the tying runs on base in the eighth, but Marc Navarro popped out to end the threat. The Bruins stranded seven runners.
"We were close, one or two at-bats away," said junior Dean Espy, who had two of the Bruins' seven hits.
Despite the offensive struggles, Savage remains optimistic that his team will soon turn things around. UCLA went into Tuesday night touting a 1.97 team ERA -- 38 earned runs in 19 games -- while holding opponents to a .185 batting average.
Right-hander Zach Weiss, the freshman who made his first career start Tuesday, had the team's worst ERA at 3.21.
But offensively, the Bruins were hitting a mere .241 as a team and have no players at or above the .300 mark.
Weiss was shaky early, allowing three hits and plunking two for No. 12 Fullerton's (17-8) three first-inning runs. He would eventually settle down, retiring nine in a row before surrendering a base hit and giving way to Mitchell Beacom in the fifth.
UCLA got on the board in the fourth and added two in the sixth to make it 5-3, but couldn't claw its way back.
"It was two top-25 teams in Southern California playing on a Tuesday night," Savage said. "They just did a little bit more than we did."