June 9, 2012

Around the Super Regionals

Super Regional Scores & Capsules

Super Regional Notes


UCLA grinds past TCU, advances to College World Series

By Abbey Mastracco



LOS ANGELES — The No. 2 national-seeded UCLA Bruins played with a quiet confidence about them Saturday night against TCU. Although not over, it was as if there was never a doubt in any of their minds that they would top the Horned Frogs to make their second trip to Omaha in three years and their fourth time in program history.


The Bruins used that confidence to take a 4-1 win over TCU in front of a crowd of 2,135 at Jackie Robinson Stadium to punch that ticket and take that trip that every team dreams of taking. For the 2012 UCLA club it’s a trip that many detractors thought the team would not make after losing their key players from 2010’s run, including first-round talents Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole.


“It has a new identity,” said UCLA head coach John Savage (left). “We’re going into Omaha with ‘Bruins’ on our chest but with a little different roster.”


Devoid of the big hits and the theatrics that usually punctuate the NCAA Baseball Tournament, UCLA (40-22) played simple Saturday night against TCU (47-14). Playing to a “Grind for Nine” mantra, the Bruins capitalized on nearly every opportunity. UCLA manufactured each of their four runs by simply moving men around the bases instead of waiting for a big hit.


“This was a difficult game for us,” Savage said. “We just chipped away, we didn’t blow anyone out.”


In the second inning, Trevor Brown went the other way with a one-out, opposite field triple and then was driven home on a sac fly by Pat Valaika. UCLA then played small ball in the third with a safety squeeze and plated one in the sixth to take a 3-1 lead when Cody Regis advanced on a passed ball.


“We’re pretty good at those things too,” Schlossnagle said. “They just didn’t give us too many opportunities.”


Nick Vander Tuig (10-3) gave up just one earned run, a solo shot to left field by Brance Rivera in the bottom of the third. Vander Tuig, who last week carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning during UCLA’s Regional win over New Mexico, gave up five hits over six innings, striking out five and walking just one, which was the last batter he faced.


“The game kind of sped up on me a little bit in the beginning,” Vander Tuig said. “Later on in the game, I kind of settled down and started making better pitches.”


David Berg (left) then came in and fooled the Horned Frogs hitters for the second night in a row. Berg worked three innings, getting the bats swinging with his devastating breaking pitches.


“It was my most difficult decision of the season,” Savage said, of the decision to not throw closer Scott Griggs, who has saved 15 of UCLA’s games this season. “I played the hot hand with Berg, they weren’t picking him up. My deepest sorrow would be not letting Griggs in the game at that time.


“He’s one of our captains, and I played the hot hand with David and he did what he needed to do.”


The Horned Frogs managed two hits off Berg, but neither timely.


“They controlled the zone real well,” Rivera said. “We were grinding all day, we just didn’t seem to get the hits when we needed them.”


“We scored three runs in the [Super] Regional, all three of them solo homers,” Schlossnagle said. “We tell our pitching staff every day that solo homers don’t beat you.”


Coming into this weekend in Los Angeles, the story for both teams was the “rivalry” the two had formed competing against one another in the 2010 College World Series. The story ended for TCU and its stellar class that brought the program into national prominence Saturday night. But for UCLA, the story will continue next week at TD Ameritrade Park.


“This team has found their way to Omaha,” Savage said. “It never gets old. It’s the epitome of college baseball.”


(photos courtesy of UCLA Athletics)