June 1, 2013


Bruins Rally Past Mustangs

By Abbey Mastracco

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


LOS ANGELES — It was almost as if two different games were played between No. 2 Cal Poly and No. 1 UCLA, Saturday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.


The Mustangs, who got to Bruins starter Nick Vander Tuig early and often for a 4-0 lead, undoubtedly would have won the first one.


But the game changed in the sixth inning and the Bruins took control from there, erasing the deficit and then some to complete a comeback and win 6-4 in their second game of the Los Angeles Regional.


“Two storylines, really; they jumped on us the first three innings – they mugged us basically,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “They did a good job against Nick, and then the game kind of turned.”


Cal Poly (40-18) was cruising, and starter Matt Imhof was dealing through five innings. The big left-hander was masterful, no-hitting the Bruins and facing just one above the minimum with four strikeouts until the game came to a screeching halt in the sixth.


Pat Gallagher started the sixth by lacing the first pitch he saw down the left-field line for a double to break up the no-hit bid. Imhof soon found himself in trouble from there, giving up a single and a walk before Gallagher scored on a fly ball to make the score 4-1.


Imhof faced one more batter and gave up an infield single to Eric Filia before he was pulled in favor of the closer, Reed Reilly. Reilly struck out Pat Valaika and looked to be out of trouble with a routine fly ball.


But it was then that the game went awry for the Mustangs.


Right fielder Nick Torres lost track of the ball in the lights, and it dropped a few feet in front of him at the warning track. Kevin Williams was able to make it all the way around to third easily for a bases-clearing triple to score three and tie the game at 4.

“It wasn’t until the ball got down below the lights that I saw it again and I was able to pick it up. By that time it was just too late,” Torres said. “Feels like it always seems to happen like that. Just for that one inning where the lighting was really bad. We came out the next inning and of course it was dark enough and we could see the ball clear.”


Imhof saw things a little different.


“They started picking me in like the fourth or fifth. I was tipping my pitches I guess,” Imhof said. “In the sixth it started becoming a little more routine. I think they almost got every pitch in the sixth. I gave them enough of an advantage that they were able to put some good swings on some balls.”


However, UCLA’s hitters argued otherwise.


“That would have been nice,” Williams said. “But we didn’t have any tipped pitches or any verbals or anything, (we) just tried to compete at the plate.”


Vander Tuig (11-4), who was shaky at best through four, was able to recover, settling down to retire three of four in his final inning, becoming the pitcher of record and ultimately earning the win.


“Cal Poly battled me pretty well,” Vander Tuig said. “They were aggressive early, exactly what the scouting report said. I made some mistakes early and they hit them. I gave them all I had for six innings.”


Reilly (2-4) took the loss for Cal Poly.


The win guarantees UCLA (41-17) a spot in the championship game for the second straight year. The Bruins again will play in the 6 p.m. game, facing the winner of tomorrow’s 2 p.m., game between Cal Poly and No. 3 San Diego.