June 4, 2010

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CBI Live
Bruins Batter Golden Flashes

By Ryan Eshoff

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


Ryan Eshoff is a rising junior at UCLA, a native of San Jose, and has seen more of California than is recommended. He has been on the sports staff of the Daily Bruin newspaper his entire UCLA career, spending the last year as an assistant sports editor and preparing to become a senior writer. He has covered the entire breadth of Bruin sports and considers himself, for better or worse, the world's foremost expert on UCLA water polo. In his less than copious amounts of free time, Ryan fights the East Coast bias and roots rabidly for the San Jose Sharks, the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Dodgers while wishing there was an NBA franchise in the Bay Area.


LOS ANGELES – It took LSU and UC Irvine more than four hours to create a competitive buzz at Jackie Robinson Stadium in the first game of the Los Angeles Regional Friday.


It took UCLA just four innings to squelch it.


In the nightcap against fourth-seeded Kent State, the top-seeded Bruins played the ungracious hosts, jumping ahead by a dozen runs after four and cruising the rest of the way in a 15-1 victory.


"It was a great way to start the weekend," UCLA coach John Savage said. "Our guys seemed really focused. Offensively we wore them down, which was big. It was a good way to start the tournament."


On the mound, it was a tale of two starters. UCLA sophomore Gerrit Cole gave up just one hit and one walk in five shutout innings before being pulled after just 78 pitches, perhaps allowing for the possibility that he pitch again later in the weekend.


Kent State starter Robert Sabo, meanwhile, struggled with his command from the onset. Sabo walked three Bruins and hit three more before being lifted in the third inning. He was charged with seven runs, two of them coming in the first inning and putting the Golden Flashes in an early hole.


Kent State's best opportunity to get to Cole was in the first inning, when the Golden Flashes got men on base via a catcher's interference call and an infield single. But the right-hander pitched out of it and silenced the KSU the rest of the way.


"The first inning kind of set the tone for the whole game," Cole said. "The mentality that we carried throughout the year of picking each other up; I thought it was crucial to come out of that inning with a zero."


The Bruins got offensive contributions from just about everyone in their lineup in pounding out 15 hits. Junior outfielder Chris Giovinazzo drove in three runs on a pair of hits, and catcher Steve Rodriguez and outfielder Beau Amaral each recorded two hits and two RBI.


It looked like Sabo would be able to limit the damage after UCLA loaded the bases with none out in the first and scored just twice. He pitched a scoreless second before the Bruins’ bats struck for five runs in both the third and the fourth innings. UCLA tacked on three more runs in the sixth, and Kent State picked up one in the ninth to round out the scoring.


"Put simply, it's starting pitching," Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. "Gerrit Cole was very good. Robert Sabo did not have a good start. That was the difference in the game, and the game was over very early. We were hoping the other Robert Sabo would show up."


UCLA will face LSU and its ace Anthony Ranaudo in the winners' bracket Saturday evening. The first game of the day will feature UC Irvine and Kent State, with the loser being eliminated.


"The defending national champs," Savage said of the pending showdown with LSU. "It's going to be a good matchup for us."