Who says you can’t hit the ball out of Jackie Robinson Stadium at night? Who says the postseason is where freshmen hitters go to die? Who says UCLA is just a weak-hitting, bunt-happy team?
Cody Regis put those stigmas to rest, tucked them into bed and kissed them goodnight with one vicious swing of the bat Sunday night. The end result was a three-run, line-drive homer to right in the eighth that propelled the Bruins to a 6-2 win over UC Irvine and sent them to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to the crucial at-bat, UCLA second-year hitting coach Rick Vanderhook summoned Regis back to the on-deck circle for a brief conference. The talk could have been about moving two runners into scoring position, but according to Regis, Vanderhook told him to prepare for a fastball on the first Matt Summers offering.
“I went into that at-bat thinking that I was going to bunt and preparing myself to bunt, but then I got the green light,” Regis said.
So Regis made the ball go, his second home run in two days proving why he’s one of UCLA’s most promising hitters.
“The freshmen class is very good,” UCLA head coach John Savage said. “It’s a combination of very good pitching, very good freshmen position players and a real good group of older guys that are keeping this thing together.”
Now the Bruins are heading to their first trip to the Super Regionals since 2007 and a year after missing the postseason altogether. Junior pitcher Rob Rasmussen made sure of it, backing strong performances from previous starters Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer with six innings of two-run ball. Relievers Erik Goeddel and Dan Klein combined for three scoreless innings to close it out.
“UCLA is one of those teams that can be standing on the last day,” Irvine head coach Mike Gillespie said.
The Bruins won their 46th game of the year to set a new school record for victories in a season. UCLA went 45-21-1 in 1997 -- a year that ended with a trip to the College World Series.
UCLA is two wins away -- against either Cal State Fullerton or Minnesota -- from Omaha.
“We feel like we have a special team but we know we have a lot of work to do,” Savage said.