June 13, 2010

Super Regional Scores, Schedules & Capsules


CBI Live
Redemption by Rasmussen propels UCLA to Omaha

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 - Just more than two years ago, a young freshman left-hander was on the mound when UCLA was eliminated by Cal State Fullerton in the regional round.

Rob Rasmussen wasn't about to let that happen again.

Now a savvy junior, Rasmussen pitched a masterful complete game on an even grander stage Sunday night to lead UCLA to an 8-1 Super Regional victory over the Titans and send the Bruins to Omaha to the College World Series for the first time since 1997.

"Once we made that comeback yesterday, I was like 'Please, for Fullerton's sake, don't give me the ball,'" Rasmussen said. "I want this. I was a little tentative early and just tried to attack them after that."

The first batter Rasmussen faced - Fullerton star Christian Colon - singled and came around to score. Tyler Pill led off the fourth with a single, and that was it. Rasmussen struck out nine in recording his 11th win. The win came exactly a week after the junior pitched UCLA to a regional-clinching win over UC Irvine.

"You just can't say enough about how [Rasmussen pitched]," UCLA coach John Savage said. "He made [the first inning] a quiet inning and then just had complete control the rest of the evening."

For the second consecutive night, a Fullerton outfielder made a critical drop of a fly ball hit by UCLA second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla. This time, centerfielder Joey Siddons misplayed a long, line drive hit by Rahmatulla with two outs in the third frame, a gaffe that allowed two runs to score and gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead that Rasmussen wouldn't come close to relinquishing.

"He had that chip on his shoulder, that he wanted to do something," Colon said. "He wanted to make sure our offense was quiet, and he was able to do that."

UCLA will advance to the College World Series and will face Florida in its first game next weekend.

The loss concludes a season that saw the Titans start out 7-9 before catching fire late and going into the postseason playing their best ball of the year. Fullerton ran into a UCLA team that wasn't ready to wake up from its dream season.

"There was a script written for this team, and unfortunately it wasn't what we hoped it was going to be," Fullerton coach Dave Serrano said.

On this night, the script featured one star in particular. Facing a lineup that featured left-handers in the three, four and five spots, Rasmussen showcased pinpoint command and a devastating breaking ball.

Meanwhile, the Bruins offense grew more potent as the night progressed, as they scored two in the sixth, one in the seventh and got a two-run home run from centerfielder Beau Amaral in the bottom of the eighth that sealed the deal.

"Whoever went out there and threw the first punch was probably going to come out on top," Amaral said. "Being able to score runs late in the game really helped us finish it off."

All that was left was for Rasmussen to finish what he started - not only Sunday night, but going back to June of 2008.

"I want this really bad, because of what they did two years ago," Rasmussen said. "It was unbelievable."

"He was in complete control," Savage added. "About the third or fourth inning, I knew it was going to be a special evening."