UCLA: Beau Amaral

UCLA's Beau Amaral talks about the Bruins' tough loss to Florida State at the College World Series with ESPN.com's Jason King.

Rapid Reaction: Florida State 4, UCLA 1

June, 19, 2012

UCLA's season came to an end with a 4-1 loss to Florida State in an elimination game at the College World Series Tuesday in Omaha. Here’s a quick look at the game:

OVERVIEW: Florida State struck early, tagging UCLA starter Zack Weiss for two runs on three walks and a hit in only 1/3 of an inning before he got pulled.

Both of the Florida State first-inning runs came on bases loaded walks as reliever Grant Watson walked the first man he faced after coming in with the bases loaded.

The Seminoles (50-16) consistently worked long at-bats, forcing UCLA pitchers to make 94 pitches through the first four innings. They left eight runners on base over that stretch but struck for two more runs in the fourth when cleanup hitter Joyce Boyd laid down a surprise bunt with the bases loaded and one out on the first pitch by UCLA reliever Ryan Deeter.

Third baseman Kevin Kramer charged the ball and tried to grab it, but overran the ball. As the it sat on the infield grass, Florida State's Devon Travis motored from second and scored giving Boyd a two-run bunt single that traveled about 50 feet.

Florida State pitchers Scott Sitz, Hunter Scantling and Robert Benincasa did the rest. Sitz, the starter, pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up only one run and five hits with eight strikeouts. Scantling and Benincasa closed out the game with 1 1/3 perfect innings.

TURNING POINT: Things started looking up for UCLA in the sixth inning when Kevin Williams walked, Beau Amaral doubled, Tyler Heineman got hit by a pitch and Cody Keefer singled in a run to make the score 4-1.

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Rapid Reaction: Arizona 4, UCLA 0

June, 17, 2012
UCLA lost to Pac-12 rival Arizona, 4-0, in a winners bracket game at the College World Series on Sunday night in Omaha. Here's a quick look at the game:

OVERVIEW: Arizona pitcher Konner Wade turned in a dominant outing by pitching a five-hitter with four strikeouts and no walks. He retired 14 consecutive batters to start the game and Chris Keck's pinch-hit single with one out in the eighth was the only hit Wade allowed with less than two out. Wade erased Keck one pitch later on an inning-ending double play.

The Wildcats (45-17) did all of their offensive damage in the fourth inning against UCLA starter Nick Vander Tuig (10-4) by stringing together five consecutive one-out hits that accounted for all four runs. A two-run single by Seth Mejias and a two-run double by Bobby Brown were the key blows.

After that, the story was Wade, who needed 109 pitches to get through his fifth complete game of the season. Earlier this season, Wade had given up 10 hits and six runs in a 15-3 loss to UCLA, but on Sunday only two runners advanced past first base.

Wade was in absolute control of the strike zone with a sinking two-seam fastball and threw strikes on 72 of his 109 pitches. He threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 31 batters he faced and he set the tone early by throwing strikes on 20 of his first 26 pitches.

The loss ends a 10-game win streak for UCLA (48-15), who last lost on May 20 at California. Vander Tuig hadn't lost a decision since a 3-0 loss April 21 at Oregon State, which was the only other game this season in which UCLA was shut out.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins finally appeared to be figuring out Wade when they strung together three consecutive two-out hits in the bottom of the fifth and loaded the bases. UCLA came up empty, however as second baseman Kevin Williams went up swinging at the first pitch and flew out to left field. UCLA didn't threaten again.

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Rapid Reaction: UCLA 9, Stony Brook 1

June, 15, 2012
Tyler HeinemanMatt Ryerson/US PresswireUCLA's Tyler Heineman, left, and teammate Beau Amaral celebrate one of the team's five first-inning runs.

UCLA opened the College World Series with a 9-1 victory over Stony Brook on Friday in Omaha, Neb. Here's a quick look at the game:

OVERVIEW: The College World Series opener couldn't have gotten off to a better start for UCLA (48-14), which struck for five runs in the first inning against Stony Brook ace Tyler Johnson (12-2). UCLA would tag Johnson for two more in the third and chase him after 2 1/3 innings -- his shortest outing of the season. The five runs in the first equaled the most Johnson had given up in a game this season.

UCLA used the same formula it has used all season in putting away the Seawolves (52-14). The Bruins got their nine runs with only two extra-base hits. They generated most of their offense with singles, walks, hit batters and sacrifices. A two-run double to center field by Kevin Williams in the third was the only "big" hit for the Bruins, who had seven players score their nine runs.

Adam Plutko (12-3) pitched seven solid innings, Jeff Gelalich and Williams each drove in two runs, and reliever David Berg pitched two hitless innings to close out the game.

TURNING POINT: In the top of the second, after UCLA had taken a 5-0 lead, Stony Brook made a push to get back in the game by loading the bases with one out. Plutko pitched out of the jam by getting a strikeout and a popout, and deflated the Seawolves.

Stony Brook had another threat going in the fifth with runners at second and third with nobody out, but again failed to score thanks to an unusual double play in which first baseman Trevor Brown fielded a grounder, stepped on first and then fired home to get Kevin Courtney attempting to score on the play.

But really the turning point came in the bottom of the first when Beau Amaral led off with a single, Tyler Heineman beat out a chopper to shortstop for an infield single and Cody Keefer walked to load the bases. Gelalich followed with a two-run single for all the runs UCLA pitchers would need.

UCLA STAR OF THE GAME: Plutko continued his postseason dominance by giving up only one run on five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in seven innings. He improved to 3-0 this postseason and 4-0 for his postseason career, tying Trevor Bauer for most postseason wins in UCLA history.

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UCLA has unfinished business in Omaha

June, 14, 2012
The name on the front of their jerseys is the same and if UCLA had names on the backs of their jerseys, many of those would be the same, too.

But make no mistake, the UCLA baseball team that takes the field against Stony Brook for the College World Series opener Friday at 2 p.m. Pacific in Omaha, Neb., is a much different Bruins team than the 2010 version.

This team relies on balanced across all three phases of the game rather than a pitching staff that was among the best ever assembled in college baseball. This team has veteran leadership and experience rather than a staring lineup that included mostly freshmen and sophomores.

And while the 2010 team was the upstart program making only the third College World Series appearance since 1969, this team comes in as a national power with something to prove after coming up short in the 2010 national championship series.

"We got left at the altar last time," coach John Savage said. "There are some guys left saying 'hey, we came that close to winning the national championship.'"

There are seven of those players, to be exact. Seven current juniors who were on the team that advanced through the College World Series bracket only to get swept by South Carolina in the best-of-three championship series.

Outfielders Beau Amaral and Jeff Gelalich, designated hitter Cody Regis and infielder Trevor Brown all either started or played regularly during that 2010 post season run. Outfielder Cody Keefer was a starter that season until a leg injury knocked him out of the last 20 games. Catcher Tyler Heineman did not play in the College World Series, but he was there to experience the loss as was closer Scott Griggs, who pitched an inning of relief in Omaha that season.

For those players, a shot at redemption and a chance to complete some unfinished business is before them, but the Bruins know they have to keep those thoughts in check.

"It’s always disappointing to come that close and to lose," Gelalich said. "But it’s a different team, a different group of guys, a different ball park. We’re not going to try to make one game bigger than it needs to be."

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Six more Bruins selected in MLB draft

June, 5, 2012
UCLA baseball players Beau Amaral, Tyler Heineman, Scott Griggs, Trevor Brown, Eric Jaffe and Cody Keefer were selected Tuesday during the second day of the Major League Baseball draft.

They joined Jeff Gelalich, taken in the supplemental first round Monday, to give UCLA total of seven players drafted in the first 15 rounds--tied for most in school history.

"We are thrilled to see seven of our players selected in the first 15 rounds," coach John Savage said. "This is both a reflection of their very hard work and our team's success. It's an exciting time in their lives, knowing that they have a chance to begin a pro baseball career. We couldn't be any more proud of their accomplishments."

Amaral, a center fielder, went to the Cincinnati Reds in the seventh round. Heineman, a catcher, and Griggs, the closer, went in the eighth round to the Houston Astros and Dodgers, respectively. The San Francisco Giants used a 10th-round pick on Brown, who has versatility to play any infield position including catcher.

Jaffe, a seldom-used reliever, went to the Chicago White Sox in the 11th round and Keefer, the UCLA left fielder, went to the Miami Marlins in the 15th round.

The draft concludes Wednesday with rounds 16-40.

Plutko pitches a gem in regional opener

June, 1, 2012
Adam PlutkoAP Photo/Gus RuelasAdam Plutko pitched his second complete game of the season as the UCLA beat Creighton.

LOS ANGELES -- Adam Plutko was pitching with a heavy heart, but luckily for him the baseball felt light.

A day after attending the funeral of his great grandmother, Plutko turned in the finest pitching performance of the season for UCLA as he spun a two-hitter to lead the Bruins to a 3-0 victory over Creighton in a first-round game of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional on Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

It was the first postseason shutout for UCLA since an 8-0 victory over Yale in 1992, putting the Bruins, seeded no. 1 in the regional, in a winner's bracket game against New Mexico on Saturday at 7 p.m.

After driving back from the funeral in San Diego on Friday morning, Plutko met his team at the ballpark and proceeded to dominate the Creighton bats from the outset. The sophomore right-hander retired the first nine batters he faced and 15 of the first 16. He struck out seven and walked three and allowed only one base runner to advance past first base.

"It’s been kind of a rough week," Plutko said. "It’s been a whirlwind of a week, but it was a lot of fun to pitch this game."

The complete game was a boon for the Bruins (43-14), who have not gotten many of them this year. Plutko had the only other one -- a 2-0 victory at Georgia on March 9. Obviously the Bruins have been relying heavily on their bullpen, but to get complete game in the first game of a regional could prove invaluable down the road.

"Adam gave his best outing of the year, quite honestly, and we needed it," coach John Savage said. "In a series when you are talking about multiple games in a few days, you’re talking about saving your bullpen and Adam just did it as well as he could."

The Bruins got all the offense they would need in the first inning when Cody Keefer beat out a chopper to shortstop for a two-out infield single and Jeff Gelalich followed by ripping a run-scoring double into the left-center gap.

Another two-out rally in the second produced two more runs as Cody Regis singled and Kevin Kramer and Beau Amaral followed with back-to-back doubles to give UCLA a 3-0 lead.

After that it was all Plutko (10-3) who effectively moved his fastball around the strike zone to keep the Bluejays (26-29) off balance. He got some help from Amaral, who made two nice running catches in center field with a man on first to thwart a potential Creighton threat.

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UCLA defeats USC, wins share of Pac-12

May, 28, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- At some point the UCLA baseball team might figure out how to win a conference title without so much drama, but until that day arrives the Bruins will just have to take what they can get.

The Bruins won a share of the Pac-12 title when they completed a three-game sweep over crosstown rival USC with a 7-6 victory Sunday in the regular-season finale at Jackie Robinson Stadium. It is the second consecutive conference title for the Bruins, who have won both by overcoming long odds on the final weekend.

This year, the Bruins trailed Oregon by two games and Arizona by one heading into the final weekend, but Oregon got swept by Oregon State and Arizona lost two of three to Arizona State, leaving the Bruins (42-14, 20-10) in a tie with Arizona (38-17, 20-10) atop the final standings. The conference crowns co-champions so no tiebreakers are used to determine a champion.

Last year, UCLA entered the final weekend a game behind Oregon State, but won the title outright when Oregon State got swept by Oregon.

"We feel very fortunate," coach John Savage said. "That’s why you play 30 games. Until the last pitch is thrown, there is anybody in this conference that can beat anybody and it just goes to show you that. I don’t know what to say other than the credit goes to the players and sometimes you get a little lucky how things fall and today we were a little fortunate."

It is the 1oth conference title in baseball for UCLA, but it is the first time the Bruins have won titles in consecutive seasons and completed a season in which the Bruins won 40-plus games for the eighth time in school history. It also continued a run of domination over USC (23-32, 8-22) as UCLA defeated the Trojans for the 19th time in the last 24 meetings.

"When you're at UCLA, you always want to beat SC and sweeping them is extra sweet," said shortstop Pat Valaika, whose two-run single in the bottom of the eighth broke a 5-5 tie. "And to sweep them to win the conference title is even sweeter."

It certainly wasn't easy. UCLA was seemingly coming from behind the whole game as USC took a 2-0 lead in the second, a 3-2 lead in the fourth and a 4-3 lead in the sixth before Trevor Brown delivered a two-run single in the sixth to give UCLA a 5-4 lead.

USC tied it in the top of the eighth when James Roberts struck out with two outs and the bases loaded, but reached first when the third strike hit the dirt and scooted to the backstop for a wild pitch.

The Bruins loaded the bases in the eighth on a hit batter, a walk and an error, bringing Valaika to the plate to face USC reliever Martin Viramontes. Valaika struck out against Viramontes on Saturday with the bases loaded in the ninth, so Valaika said he was extra focused for his eighth-inning at bat Sunday.

"I wanted a little bit of revenge," Valaika said. "I hit a curve ball, which he was throwing a lot of those yesterday, so I was just sitting on it and trying to do my job and it worked out."

The hit not only got Valaika some revenge, but it got UCLA the conference title. If they had lost to USC, the Bruins would have finished a game behind Arizona, which had already finished playing by the time Valaika came to bat in the eighth.

It completed a remarkable closing stretch of the season for UCLA, which won 11 of its last 12 games and 14 of 16 to end the regular season.The Bruins were rewarded by the NCAA for that effort when they were chosen as one of 16 hosts for the regionals which begin Friday.

It is the third consecutive year the Bruins have been selected as a regional host and on Monday morning, they are expected to earn a top eight national seeding for the playoffs.

"We’re excited with where we are," Savage said. "All the credit goes to the players. They stayed together all season with one of the toughest schedules in the country and in one of the toughest baseball conferences in the country."

And a conference in which UCLA is the champion.

"It means a lot to everybody in the program," Savage said. "To be able to say that we’re back to back, it’s special. I think everybody in our room feels that way."

Especially with how unlikely it seemed when the weekend began.

"Definitely coming into it a lot of it wasn’t in our hands," center fielder Beau Amaral said. "We just knew that we had to take care of our side of it and hope for the best and we're all pretty proud of the accomplishment. It says a lot about our team and our coaches and our program."
UCLA center fielder Beau Amaral was named the Pac-12 player of the week after batting .700 with a home run, two doubles, six runs scored and three RBI in two games.

Amaral, a junior, is the third UCLA player to earn player of the week honors. He was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and three runs in UCLA’s 12-3 win against Washington State on Friday night then followed that with a career-high five hits on Saturday in a 12-3 victory over the Cougars.

Amaral was batting .322 for the season as the Bruins (17-4, 4-1) entered their game Monday against Washington State. The Bruins, No. 6 in Baseball America's national rankings, had won 15 of 16 games going into the series finale against the Cougars.

Baseball: Five heading to the Cape

June, 16, 2011
Nineteen UCLA baseball players will compete in collegiate leagues this summer, five of which will get a crack in the prestigious Cape Cod League in Massachusetts.

Beau Amaral, Cody Keefer and Scott Griggs -- each of which is entering the ever-important draft-eligible year -- along with pitchers Zack Weiss and Eric Jaffe will head to the Northeast looking to improve their stock against the nation's premier prospects.

Seven other Bruins will play in the West Coast Collegiate League, four in Northwoods League, two in the California Collegiate League and one in the Far West League. Among the group is catcher and potential starting quarterback Richard Brehaut, who will stay in California as a member of the Academy Barons, a team that plays its games at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

A list of the 19 players, with league and team in parentheses:

Brenton Allen (West Coast, Walla Walla)
Beau Amaral (Cape Cod, Chatham)
Richard Brehaut (California, Academy)
Trevor Brown (Northwoods, LaCrosse)
Brian Carroll (Northwoods, Wisconsin)
Ryan Deeter (West Coast, Bellingham)
Pat Gallagher (West Coast, Bellingham)
Jeff Gelalich (West Coast, Bellingham)
Matt Giovinazzo (Far West, Neptune Beach)
Scott Griggs (Cape Cod, Brewster)
Tyler Heineman (Northwoods, Wisconsin)
Eric Jaffe (Cape Cod, Chatham)
Cody Keefer (Cape Cod, Yarmouth-Dennis)
Michael Kerman (California, Academy)
Cody Regis (Northwoods, Wisconsin)
Eric Snyder (West Coast, Wenatchee)
Pat Valaika (West Coast, Wenatchee)
Zack Weiss (Cape Cod, Yarmouth-Dennis)
Kevin Williams (West Coast, Walla Walla)

Links to league websites: California Collegiate League, Cape Cod League, Far West League, Northwoods League, West Coast League.

Trevor Bauer is Pac-10 pitcher of the year

May, 31, 2011
UCLA's Trevor Bauer has been selected the Pac-10 Conference pitcher of the year and freshman pitcher Adam Plutko and sophomore outfielder Beau Amaral were first-team all conference selections.

Bauer (12-2) lead the Pac-10 with a 1.27 ERA and leads the nation with 189 strikeouts as UCLA heads in to the NCAA regionals beginning Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Opponents have batted only .151 against him and he set a conference record by earning six conference player of the week awards this season. He is projected as a top-five pick in Monday's major league baseball draft.

Bauer, a junior right-hander, has made the all-conference team in all three of his years at UCLA. He was 8-1 with eight complete games in nine Pac-10 starts this season. In those games, he had a 1.24 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 80 innings and pitched three shutouts.

Plutko (6-4) ranked fourth in the Pac-10 with a 2.16 ERA and has 86 strikeouts and 22 walks in 100.0 innings. He went 3-2 with a 2.51 ERA and one complete game shutout in nine Pac-10 starts. Amaral batted .307 with two home runs, 29 RBI and led the Bruins with 16 doubles, 35 runs scored and a .411 on-base percentage. Amaral batted a team-best .347 in Pac-10 games.

Junior pitcher Gerrit Cole, junior pitcher Mitchell Beacom, junior catcher Steve Rodriguez, sophomore outfielder Cody Keefer and freshman right-hander Nick Vander Tuig were named honorable mention all-conference.

Cole (6-7) has a 3.28 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 23 walks in 107.0 innings. Beacom, a key reliever, has a 2.20 ERA with 38 strikeouts and nine walks in 32.2 innings. Rodriguez has 17 RBIs and started 41 games as UCLA's catcher. Keefer has batted .305 as UCLA's everyday left fielder and Vander Tuig leads the Bruins with eight saves.

California's Tony Renda is the Pac-10 player of the year and Oregon State's Pat Caseywas named the Pac-10 coach of the year. Arizona State infielder Deven Marrero earned defensive player of the year and Stanford infielder Brian Ragira is the conference freshman of the year.

Baseball: Bruins finding their groove

April, 18, 2011
The UCLA baseball team fell two spots -- from 18th to 20th -- in this week's USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' poll despite earning a series victory against hot-hitting Arizona.

Tough crowd.

The Bruins (19-12, 9-3 Pac-10) have turned it on as of late, winning all four of their conference series and eight of their last 11 games overall. UCLA's pitching cooled off Arizona (batting .340 heading into Friday), holding the Wildcats to a .202 average in three games.

Gerrit Cole absorbed a tough 5-4 loss Friday, but the Bruins bounced back with 4-0 and 8-5 wins Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Trevor Bauer tossed a complete game shutout Saturday, allowing just four hits while striking out 13. Beau Amaral had six RBIs on Sunday, including the game-tying two-run blast and go-ahead three-run double.

UCLA hosts San Diego State (11-25) on Tuesday night before hitting the road for a three-game set at Stanford (16-12, 3-6) beginning Thursday.

Baseball: Blair Dunlap signs with Baltimore

July, 15, 2010
Blair Dunlap, a 43rd-round selection who hit .314 as a redshirt senior last season, signed with the Baltimore Orioles and was assigned to the Aberdeen IronBirds of the Class A New York-Penn League.

Dunlap is one of three Bruins taken by Baltimore -- the other two being closer Dan Klein (third round) and left-hander Matt Drummond (20th round). Both are expected to eventually sign.

Dunlap, who hails from Mission Viejo, was the oldest player on last season's team and posted his best offensive campaign. He hit .300 as a freshman in 2006, took a medical redshirt the following year and then hit .250 and .301 the next two seasons. Dunlap moved from the outfield to designated hitter to make room for freshman Beau Amaral, who earned second-team all-freshman honors from Baseball America.

Two is the magic number

June, 28, 2010

Kimberly Lajcik/Daily Bruin Everyone's up for UCLA's first-ever College World Series final.

OMAHA -- For the first time in history, the merchandise tents across from Rosenblatt Stadium are loaded with UCLA baseball championship-series gear.

Shirts, hats, posters -- it's all here. Dog tags, even.

The Bruins, making their first-ever appearance in the College World Series finals, hope another version of those commemorative souvenirs is on the horizon.

"Every day we go in the Hall of Fame room and we go in the weight room and you see all the national championships, and baseball doesn't have anything underneath it," head coach John Savage said. "It's a gut check every time you see it, knowing that you could do something special and put it up there."

The first game of a best-of-three series with South Carolina comes tonight, with ace right-hander Gerrit Cole taking the mound for the Bruins. The sophomore won his previous start in a 6-3 win over Texas Christian, striking out 13 and giving up five hits in eight dominant innings.

But despite earlier success, Cole knows the Gamecocks pose an interesting challenge. South Carolina lost its first game in Omaha, but followed that up by winning its next four to get to the finals.

"I've watched them throughout the World Series," Cole said. "They're an extremely resilient team. They have quite a few tremendous players, a lot of big-name players."

UCLA (3-1), the only remaining national seed at No. 6, has played well on the big stage. The arms have continued to be the story, as opposing batters have combined to hit .195 and strike out 48 times in 35 frames.

But the Bruins bats, perhaps a bit overlooked by some pundits, have carried their weight as well. UCLA is hitting .324 as a team, led by top-of-the-order pest Beau Amaral's 7-for-15 effort.

It's clear to see that all facets are coming together at the right time. Two wins separate UCLA from championship merchandise.

Baseball team rolls to first-ever CWS win

June, 19, 2010

Kimberly Lajcik/Daily Bruin UCLA's batting order responded to Tyler Rahmatulla's (5) absence, banging out 18 hits on the way to the program's first-ever win at the College World Series.

Maybe Tyler Rahmatulla's broken wrist isn't as big an issue as it's been made out to be.

The UCLA baseball team looked just fine without its No. 3 hitter, cranking 18 hits and scoring in all but one inning Saturday night to earn its first-ever College World Series win, 11-3, over Florida at Rosenblatt Stadium.

To make up for Rahmatulla's absence, head coach John Savage moved third baseman Cody Regis to second and gave first baseman Dean Espy the nod at third. The defensive alterations didn't affect the two at the plate, with Regis and Espy combining to go 4 for 12 with three RBIs in the heart of the lineup.

Another switch that worked: moving shortstop Niko Gallego -- usually the No. 9 hitter -- to the leadoff spot. Gallego, a .277 hitter this season, was 4 for 5 and scored twice. Beau Amaral adjusted well from being bumped from his usual leadoff spot, going 3 for 4 in the No. 2 hole to set the table and keep the No. 3-seeded Bruins on the verge of scoring throughout the game.

Pitcher Trevor Bauer also had to deal with a switch, starting the series opener instead of the second game (as he has all season). The sophomore right-hander was tagged for two runs early, but settled down to go seven innings and strike out 11. The punch outs helped him set UCLA's single-season record for strikeouts with 151.

UCLA plays Texas Christian University at 6 p.m. PT on Monday in the winner's bracket.



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