June 2, 2013


Bruins Headed Back to Supers

By Abbey Mastracco

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


LOS ANGELES — UCLA won its second-straight Regional Championship in dominating fashion Sunday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.


The top-seeded Bruins allowed just three baserunners the entire game, one-hitting No. 3 San Diego in a 6-0 shutout. The win sends them into the Super Regional round for the second straight year, becoming the first UCLA team to ever go back-to-back in the Super Regionals.


“It was a difficult Regional,” UCLA coach John Savage (pictured) said. “You had four good teams, all West Coast teams, good players – a couple high draft [picks] – and I think you’d have to say that our guys did their job and at the end of the day it was really how we had to draw it up.”


San Diego (37-25) took a gamble with Max Homick (5-2) in the Championship game, with head coach Rich Hill citing the fact that the lefthander already was warm after having closed out the elimination game against No. 2 Cal poly.

But Homick failed to make it out of the first inning. He gave up four runs and got just one out, facing seven batters.


Michael Wagner was effective, going the rest of the way scattering two hits on four runs while striking out four. But like Homick, command was an issue as Wagner issued four walks.


“Hindsight is 20-20,” Hill said. “We knew going in that UCLA had six left-handed hitters. We knew Max Homick was going to be in the game at some point, we thought that it was going to be better while he was still warm.”


Homick had thrown just 16 pitches in the elimination game, and Wagner had a history of struggling with left-handed hitters. But Homick was hit right from the beginning when Brian Carroll laid down a textbook bunt for a single.


“We wanted to go a couple times around the lineup to get to Michael, who was going to be fresh,” Hill said. “We really felt we had to use both guys and if Max had sat down and then had to get warm again I don’t think he would have been that effective.”


Pat Valaika got the big hit of the inning, driving in two when he sliced a single past Homick into right-center. Homick then issued two straight hits and the Bruins (42-17) plated another one on an infield single by Pat Gallagher.


After hitting Shane Zeile to load the bases, Hornick was removed. But Cody Regis took a single off Wagner to drive in another run for UCLA, giving the Bruins a 4-0 lead in the first inning.


Meanwhile, Grant Watson was phenomenal. The sophomore southpaw pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, striking out five and walking one.


“I thought Grant was outstanding,” Savage said. “I thought he pitched on both sides of the plate, I thought he was in complete command of the game. High-confidence pitcher and a guy that we’re certainly going to need in the postseason.”


Watson added: “Our offense helping us out, it totally is nice getting four runs in the in the first,” Watson said.


Gallagher, the Bruins’ first baseman, went 1 for 2 with two RBI and finished the weekend hitting .555 with two runs and four RBI and was selected Most Outstanding Player.


“It’s his time,” Savage said. “He’s a complete team guy, I couldn’t be happier for him.”


UCLA had four other players named to the all-tournament team: Shortstop Valaika, right fielder Eric Filia, and pitchers Watson and Adam Plutko.


USD catcher Austin Green and second baseman Austin Bailey also were named to the All-Tournament team. Conspicuously absent was third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant, the National Player of the Year and Division I home runs leader (31) had a quiet weekend. While he found a way to reach base every game, he had no extra-base hits and his only hits were infield singles.


Sunday’s game was the last of his prolific career as a Torero.


“I felt they were pitching me tough [all weekend],” Bryant said. “I didn’t have the weekend I wanted to and I didn’t really help my team the way I wanted to.


“We’ll see what happens in my future. I’m just kind of at a loss for words right now.”


(photo courtesy of UCLA Media Relations)