When the ball popped out of the glove of Dirtbags’ diving second baseman Victor Carlino and allowed No. 2 UCLA to take a fifth inning two-run lead Tuesday night, the outcome became predictable. The Bruins took down the Dirtbags 2-0 at home.
“It looked like we were guessing,” head coach Troy Buckley said. “It wasn’t very good.”
Neither team could afford a two-run deficit on a night when strong pitching kept runs at a minimum.
Junior RHP Sagun Gainey made his Dirtbags (2-13) debut Tuesday night. He received a rude welcome from the first batter he faced, Garrett Mitchell, who hit a home run to right field to put UCLA ahead 1-0
Gainey did not allow another hit, but was slated to go only two innings. He was replaced by junior RHP Raul Rizzo, also making his Dirtbags debut as he recovers from injury. Rizzo did his part and kept UCLA (12-3) hitless for two innings, though he did walk two batters.
“[Rizzo’s] injury is pretty significant,” Buckley said. “There’s a chance he could end up hurting it even more but he understands the risk that he’s dealing with so I give a lot of credit to that.”
The game became a bullpen battle as UCLA RHP Ryan Garcia, an All-Star in the prestigious Cape Cod League last summer, also went just two innings. He has been recovering from nerve inflammation. Garcia was a no-decision and was replaced by Sean Mullen.
The Dirtbags had trouble keeping up with Mullen’s 93 mph heater, which is among the fastest they’ve seen all year. Junior left fielder Riki Desa bolted a two-out double off the top of the wall in the fourth, but was stranded at second base. DeSa added a single in the sixth, his fifth hit in the last two games.
“I’m just aggressive to the fastball,” DeSa said.
Dirtbags RHP Tyler Gums entered in the fifth, walked two batters and threw two wild pitches. That allowed UCLA to take a 2-0 lead on the infield single that popped out of Carlino’s glove.
With two outs in the bottom of the inning, junior OF Calvin Estrada had an opportunity to tie the game, but struck out swinging with the bases loaded. He left two more runners stranded with a strikeout in the seventh and UCLA strolled to a win.
The Dirtbags continue their home stand 6 p.m. Friday when they open a series against Minnesota.