LOS ANGELES — The Baylor baseball team let a big fish slip away.
The Bears took a lead into the eighth inning, but the bullpen couldn’t hold onto it. No. 12-ranked UCLA rallied with four runs in the bottom of the eighth to steal a 5-2 win in the series opener Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Bears (2-2) wasted another strong start from their opening day starter Cody Bradford. The sophomore left-hander tossed five scoreless innings, striking out seven.
But Baylor couldn’t crack UCLA starter Jake Bird until the sixth, after Bradford had left the game. And the Bears couldn’t hold onto their lead once they had one.
With a 2-1 edge entering the bottom of the eighth, Baylor appeared to be in good shape. But the Bruins broke through against BU reliever Collin Sharp, who hit one batter, walked two more and surrendered a two-run single to Chase Strumpf. The four-run outburst pushed UCLA (5-0) into the lead at 5-2.
In the ninth, Bruins reliever Holden Powell retired the Bears in order to put the finishing touches on UCLA’s rally win.
After neither team scored in the first five innings of the game, Baylor capitalized on a UCLA error to score a pair of unearned runs in the sixth. With two outs and Davis Wendzel on second thanks to a double, Cole Haring smacked a ground ball that Bruins shortstop Ryan Kreidler misplayed to allow Wendzel to score. Davion Downey followed with a walk, and Josh Bissonette punched an RBI single to bring the score to 2-0, Bears.
Jacob Ashkinos (0-1) took the loss for the Bears, allowing three runs in two innings of relief. Brian Gadsby (2-0) picked up the win for UCLA, while Powell tallied the save.
Bisonette, Wendzel and T.J. Raguse led Baylor with two hits apiece. Wendzel’s batting average is now up to .588 on the young season.
Game 2 of the series is slated for Saturday at 4 p.m. Central.