Ryne Nelson’s first pitch was 98 miles per hour on the outside edge of the plate.
UCLA’s Michael Toglia sent the ball over the fence in left field for a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning that lifted No. 1 UCLA to a 4-2 Pac-12 Conference baseball win over Oregon in front of 1,068 Thursday night at PK Park.
“That’s what great players players do,” Oregon coach George Horton said. “It’s not that easy when you see one pitch off a guy at 98 and hit it over the opposite-field fence. That’s pretty special.”
Oregon starter Robert Ahlstrom got the first out of the eighth before Jake Pries singled. Noting that Toglia hits left-handers like Ahlstrom better than right-handers, Horton brought Nelson out of the bullpen and his first pitch left the park.
“We had the guy we wanted in the game there in that spot and he got Nelly,” UO third baseman Spencer Steer said. “So tip your cap.”
The Bruins (46-8, 23-5) clinched the Pac-12 title while Oregon (27-28, 10-18) fell below .500 on the season.
UCLA took the lead with a run in the second inning when Jeremy Ydens walked and Jack Stronach singled before Noah Cardenas singled in Ydens.
Oregon threatened in the bottom of the second when Evan Williams, Jakob Goldfarb and Max Foxcroft each walked before Sam Novitske lined out to center field.
The Bruins made it 2-0 in the third after Ryan Kreidler doubled and scored on a double by Pries.
The Ducks tied the score with two runs in the bottom of the third after Tanner Smith singled and scored on a double by Steer. Jonny DeLuca brought in Steer on a ground out.
Ahlstrom allowed eight hits and three earned runs in 7 1/3 innings while striking out nine.
“The guy battles his rear end off and got better as the game went along and gave us a chance to win,” Horton said. “We played the Nelly card and thought that was the right move.”
UCLA starter Ryan Garcia allowed three hits and two earned runs with six strikeouts in seven innings. Relievers Kyle Mora and Holden Powell each tossed a scoreless inning.
“You have to earn everything you get off them,” Horton said. “We have to be a little sharper.”
Steer’s double was the only extra-base hit for the Ducks, who had four hits. Steer set the school record with his 129th career RBI.
“Obviously, without guys getting on base I wouldn’t be in that position,” he said. “I’d rather trade it in for a win, that’s for sure.”