UCLA: College World Series

A bird's eye view

June, 30, 2010
Note: listen for a distinct, unified, drop-of-the-pen sound by all reporters following the base hit. The media inside the press box sure didn't want what turned out to be the final game at Rosenblatt Stadium to end.

Get 'em while they're cheap

June, 29, 2010

Blair Angulo/ESPN Los Angeles A number of vendors across the street from Rosenblatt Stadium are selling these shirts. Just don't let UCLA baseball players see them.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Thirteenth Street is buzzing more than two hours away from the first pitch of tonight's Game 2 between UCLA and South Carolina in the College World Series final. Fans are scurrying in and out of merchandise tents, bargaining for eliminated teams' discounted gear and snatching up Bruins and Gamecocks apparel. Others simply walk into the booths in search of shade, looking to escape the suffocating 90-degree heat.

Some, though, are trying to put a stop to sales.

A South Carolina fan walked into a tent hoping to persuade a vendor to bring down the shirts pictured above.

"Y'all have to bring those down," the man said. "We're far from that. They look good, but we're not there yet."

The vendor laughed, but refused to take the shirts off the wall.

"There's nothing wrong with being a little confident," the vendor said with a smile.

The shirts are going for $30.
OMAHA, Neb. -- UCLA baseball finds itself down 1-0 following Monday night's loss to South Carolina in Game 1 of the College World Series final round.

Call it "the unenviable position."

Particularly because Monday night's 7-1 defeat felt more like a 20-0 drubbing. South Carolina did everything right, outhitting UCLA 14-3 and roughing up Gerrit Cole -- all as the supposed underdog.

Not many were around to catch the Bruins' lone run and two of their three hits in the ninth. By then, a majority of the 23,181 in attendance had streamed out of Rosenblatt Stadium.

"Anybody would have the momentum up 1-0," Savage said. "That's baseball. That's the way it is. That's how series work. They're certainly up a game, and it's their advantage right now, but, you know, that's why we're playing [Tuesday]."

UCLA has been in this position before. The Bruins lost the first game of the Los Angeles Super Regional to Cal State Fullerton before winning the last two to advance. That, combined with the fact that the team dropped only two series all year, reminds UCLA that it can bounce back in tonight's Game 2, which begins at 4:30 p.m. PT.

"We never felt we were totally out of [Monday's game]," catcher Steve Rodriguez said. "Even that last inning -- bases loaded, nobody out -- we were a couple hits away from getting right back into it and putting a little more pressure on them."

Perhaps playing their cards close to vest, neither coach committed to a starting pitcher for tonight's match-up. Savage suggested junior left-hander Rob Rasmussen might take the hill, suggesting it likely won't be sophomore Trevor Bauer, who made 135 pitches in a win Saturday.

South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner wasn't 100 percent sure either.

"We will do our normal routine and chat it up a little bit and 'philosophy' along the way," he said before drawing some laughs from reporters. "I think it will probably be a left-hander."

Where's the UCLA blue?

June, 28, 2010
OMAHA -- There's not a whole lot of UCLA blue in the stands at Rosenblatt Stadium for Game 1 of the College World Series final round.

One has to try to spot the Bruins' colors. A small batch about 10 rows behind UCLA's third-base dugout is the only section worth noting. Other than that, it's mostly a pro-South Carolina crowd.

It shouldn't come as a complete shock.

When UCLA played host to Louisiana State in the Regional round, LSU fans swarmed to Jackie Robinson Stadium. Judging by shirt colors in the stands, the ratio then was about 70-30 purple to blue.

A week later in the Super Regional round against Cal State Fullerton, Titans' fans also outnumbered the home team's contingent.

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 unable to close out TCU

June, 25, 2010
There will be a third game between UCLA and Texas Christian. Matt Purke, TCU's highly-touted lefty, made sure of it.

The Bruins' bats never going against Purke, the former first-round pick who was 15-0 heading into Friday afternoon's game. UCLA, a win away from the final round, didn't get a ball out of the infield until the fourth inning and didn't register a hit until the fifth. Purke surrendered two runs and only three hits and UCLA lost for the first time in the CWS, 6-2, to set up a tense final game between the two teams.

UCLA's own left-hander, Rob Rasmussen, failed to be as good as Purke when he needed to be. Nearly two weeks after tossing a complete game against Cal State Fullerton to book UCLA's trip to the College World Series, the junior struggled through 4 1/3 innings, laboring for 95 pitches and giving up three runs and six hits.

Senior right-hander Garett Claypool, playing for the first time in nearly a month, didn't fare any better. He gave up three runs in relief of Rasmussen.

UCLA had a shot at the game when it trailed by one in the seventh, but Beau Amaral struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat. TCU would tag Claypool for home runs in the seventh and eighth innings to pull away.

The elimination game between UCLA and TCU is Saturday, with the winner advancing to the championship round. If South Carolina forces another game by beating Clemson on Friday night, the Bruins and Horned Frogs take the field at 11 a.m. PT Saturday. If Clemson closes out its side of the bracket, Saturday's game is at 4 p.m. PT.
Gerrit Cole subtly revealed one of his secret weapons late in the regular season.

The UCLA baseball team had just swept California in Berkeley, so maybe he was giddy and didn't really mean it. Perhaps he was joking -- the righty demonstrating a soft side not fitting for a hard-thrower like himself.

"It was that steak dinner we had," Cole said with a laugh before bouncing into the visitor's room.

Well, someone had his Omaha steak.

The sophomore pitcher cooked up a Grade A outing Monday night. Something medium-rare, something many would pay a lot for. He carried a stern, focused look throughout his eight-inning, three-run performance that wound up to be the ideal recipe for a UCLA win, 6-3, over Texas Christian.

"Cole showed why he's an All-American with the way he pitched," TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "That was really, really impressive."

The Bruins improved to 2-0 at the College World Series and will await the winner of Florida State-TCU for a meeting Friday. After going winless in two previous trips to Omaha, UCLA needs a win to get to the championship round.

A by-the-numbers look at Cole's work:
  • 13 -- the number of strikeouts Cole recorded Monday night, the most in a CWS game since Cal State Fullerton's Jason Windsor fanned 14 in 2004.
  • 13 -- the number of TCU batters that went down swinging.
  • 97 -- the speed of Cole's fastball in the eighth inning.
  • 1 -- the number of TCU hits through six frames.
  • 2 -- the number of times Cole convinced head coach John Savage to keep him in the game.
  • 9 -- consecutive batters Cole retired before Jason Coats singled to start a three-run rally in the seventh.
  • 6 -- the number three-ball counts Cole got himself into.
  • 151 -- the number of strikeouts Cole has this season, one shy of teammate Trevor Bauer's single-season program mark (set Saturday).

Baseball: UCLA leads TCU 5-0 after six

June, 21, 2010
UCLA couldn't have asked for a better start from Gerrit Cole.

The pitcher has set the tone through six, as No. 6-seeded UCLA leads Texas Christian 5-0.

Cole was scorching early, striking out the side in the first by getting three hitters to go down swinging. The offense backed him by manufacturing a 2-0 lead -- Blair Dunlap smacking a run-scoring single in the first before Beau Amaral roped a two-out RBI hit in the second.

And just when it seemed like the Bruins would lull America to sleep, freshmen left-handed hitters Cody Regis and Jeff Gelalich showed off their muscle in the third. Regis belted an opposite-field two-run blast -- his fifth of the postseason -- then Gelalich skied one to right for the 5-0 UCLA advantage. With the three-inning outburst, the Bruins extended their scoring streak to 10 straight innings (they scored in the final seven innings Saturday in an 11-3 win over Florida).

But make no mistake about it: it's been The Cole Show through six.

The flame-throwing right-hander has been mixing his fastball (94-97 miles per hour) with an 87-mph slider. He has struck out nine and allowed just one hit.

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.

College World Series viewing guide

June, 19, 2010

Chris Carlson/Associated Press Beau Amaral (25) and the UCLA Bruins hope to get off to a good start Saturday against No. 3-seeded Florida.

Most single-season wins in program history? Check. A Super Regional series victory leading to a College World Series bid in the last season at Rosenblatt Stadium? Check and check.

Those accomplishments are all fine and dandy, but there's one remaining goal for the UCLA baseball team -- a goal the Bruins hope to step closer to today in their CWS opener against Florida on ESPN.

UCLA is in Omaha, Neb. for the first time since 1997 thanks to a program-best 48 single-season victories. The following are a few things you need to know before the fun begins.

Why UCLA can win it all:

Pitching, pitching, pitching. The word needs to be stressed three times here because head coach John Savage has three aces at his disposal. Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer (today's starter) and Rob Rasmussenare each capable of completely shutting down the opposition. Cole is your power guy, Bauer your finesse guy, Rasmussen your sneaky-good left-hander. Then there's the bullpen, which features Garett Claypool, Matt Grace, Erik Goeddel and closer Dan Klein. When the opponent scores two runs or less -- and it's happened 30 times this spring -- UCLA is 29-1. Perhaps most notably, the Bruins won eight of 11 one-run games. If the College World Series turns into an arms race, look for UCLA (2.97 team ERA) to keep winning.

Player to watch:

Kimberly Lajcik/Daily Bruin Sophomore pitcher Trevor Bauer (right) plays a pivotal role as the Game 1 starter.

Bauer will be the tone-setter: win and the Bruins slide into a favorable spot as favorites to advance to the championship round, lose and the team will have to fight off elimination two days later. The sophomore right-hander will again make a Saturday start, though it's not a Game 2 like in a typical weekend series. Savage, though, insists that Bauer wants the ball in his hands. As mentioned earlier, Savage has the luxury to pick from a starting rotation that features three pitchers with 10 or more wins and 115 or more strikeouts.

Chompin' at the bit:Playing away from Westwood should not be a big issue for UCLA, which went 19-4 in 23 road games this season. Playing against unfamiliar competition should not be a problem, either. The Bruins are 30-5 against non-Pac-10 teams -- with three of those losses coming against Super Regional contestant Cal State Fullerton. Like UCLA, Florida swept through its Regional with easy wins over Bethune-Cookman (7-3), Oregon State (10-2) and Florida Atlantic (15-0). The Gators needed just two games to do away with Miami (Fla.) and punch their tickets for Omaha.

Notes: UCLA is making its third trip to the College World Series (1969 and 1997 were the other years) ... The Bruins placed in second behind No. 1 national seed Arizona State in the Pac-10 Conference this season. ASU swept a three-game set at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium in early May ... If UCLA loses to Florida, it faces the loser of TCU-Florida State on Monday. If it wins, it faces the winner of the same game ... Game-time forecasts call for a 50 percent chance of rain Saturday.

Baseball team honors John Wooden

June, 16, 2010

Chris Carlson/Associated Press Senior first baseman Justin Uribe (left) and the UCLA baseball team have honored John Wooden with helmet decals and the writing of "JW" on caps.

After the passing of John Wooden, the national champion UCLA softball team honored the former basketball coach by wearing black wristbands with the letters "JW" embroidered in white.

The baseball team has done something similar in its postseason run, decorating their caps and the back of their helmets with Wooden's initials. Following UCLA's Super Regional victory over Cal State Fullerton on Sunday night, head coach John Savage commented on the presence he believes Wooden has had on his team.

"No question about it," Savage said. "Our guys have talked about coach all season, really. He's certainly with us. We're just very honored to be at the school where he coached."

No. 6-seeded UCLA opens College World Series play against No. 3 Florida on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT in Omaha.

A note, a video and a link

June, 15, 2010
A note:

The Los Angeles Daily News is reporting that UCLA starting second baseman and No. 3 hitter Tyler Rahmatulla broke his wrist during this postgame celebration and will miss the College World Series. Rahmatulla, a sophomore, forced a Game 3 against Cal State Fullerton by blasting a clutch, two-out, two-run home run in the ninth inning of Saturday's elimination game. Head coach John Savage has options, though -- he can move third baseman Cody Regis to second and have backup first baseman Dean Espy man third. Backup catcher Trevor Brown, whose two-out, two-run single in extras Saturday gave UCLA the lead, can also play the infield.

A video:

A link:

The Tennessee Titans and fourth-round NFL Draft pick Alterraun Verner have agreed to terms on a four-year deal. Click here for the Titans' release.

College World Series schedule announced

June, 14, 2010
The UCLA baseball team will face off against Florida at 4 p.m. (PT) Saturday afternoon, the NCAA announced Monday night. The No. 6-seeded Bruins and No. 3-seeded Gators will play the day's second game, following the completion of the College World Series opener between TCU and Florida State.

The Omaha appearance will be UCLA's first since 1997.

Saturday’s losers play one another at 1:30 p.m. (PT) on Monday afternoon, while the winners take the field at 6 p.m. (PT). The best-of-three championship finals is scheduled for Monday, June 28 through Wednesday, June 30.

All CWS games will be televised live by ESPN or ESPN2. The series will be the last one played at legendary Rosenblatt Stadium, which has been the host site for nearly six decades.

Video: Baseball team's on-field celebration

June, 14, 2010



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