LOS ANGELES -- Fourth-ranked UCLA clinched the Pac-12 Conference title by defeating the Arizona Wildcats 5-3 on Sunday afternoon in front of a sell-out crowd at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins finish the weekend 3-0 and needed a loss from USC to California to claim the out-right conference crown.
This marks the 11th conference championship in school history and the third in the past five seasons. Additionally, UCLA ties a school-record for conference wins with their 21st of the season (set in 1979, '86 and 2013).
UCLA climbed back from an early two-run deficit to total five runs on eight hits. No Bruin had more than one hit, but Chris Keck (1-for-4, 2 RBI) and Brett Stephens (1-for-5, R, 2 RBI) each drove in a pair of runs to lead the UCLA attack.
Out of the bullpen, Cody Poteet (5-1) threw 1.1 scoreless innings, striking out one, to earn the victory. Arizona starter Bobby Dalbec (2-7) received the loss after allowing four runs on six hits in 4.1 innings. Senior closer David Berg (12) earned the five-out save, coming on in the eighth inning to shut the door on the Wildcats.
Arizona (28-23, 12-18), who hadn’t scored all weekend, took the early lead on UCLA with a run in the opening frame. After the leadoff hitter was retired, Kevin Newman doubled down the left field line and was followed by Riley Moore who singled up the middle. With runners on the corners, Bobby Dalbec then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Wildcats the 1-0 edge.
Three innings later, the Wildcats added another run to go up by a pair. Tyler Krause doubled with one out and advanced to third on a failed pick-off attempt. JJ Matijevic then cashed in with an RBI groundout to extend the Arizona lead to two.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, UCLA (40-12, 21-6) finally got the bats working, putting up a four-spot to take the lead away from Arizona. Trent Chatterton and Justin Hazard singled in consecutive at-bats and each advanced a base on an error to lead off the frame. Stephens then followed with a single back up the middle to plate two runs and bring the game even at two. Then, after a walk to Kevin Kramer and a bunt single from Luke Persico, Keck delivered two more runs for the Bruins with a single of his own to put UCLA on top, 4-2.
The Bruins proceeded to tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning to push the lead to three runs. With two outs and Chatterton on third, Kramer blasted a double off of the right-center field fence to plate the fifth run of the contest for UCLA.
The Wildcats responded with a run in the eighth inning to pull back within two runs of the Bruins. However, Dalbec’s RBI double would serve as the last tally of the game for Arizona who subsequently succumbed to Berg out of the bullpen.