Bumped. This got pushed down yesterday. So wanted to make sure no one missed this. GO BRUINS. -N
UCLA had been blazing hot to start their 2010 season, but some had said that they had to prove it against a top quality team and do it away from home. On Sunday, they did, beating #19 Oklahoma 5-2 to close out the Whataburger Classic in Corpus Christi, Texas to stretch their perfect start to 13-0. They lacked power, totaling only one extra base hit, but they manufactured runs with patience at the plate, timely hitting and aggressive baserunning, never more so than when Niko Gallego capped the scoring in the ninth with a dramatic steal of home.
The UCLA offense was stifled at times, inept at others and crafty when need be, but more outstanding pitching is what led the way. Rob Rasmussen finally got his first decision of the season, picking up the win for his six innings of four hit, one run and seven strikeout work. Erik Goeddel surrendered a run in his one inning of work, but Dan Klein was there to clean things up with two shutout innings in a tense situation for his third save of the year.
It was actually Oklahoma, who entered the game 15-1and winner of ten straight, who got on the scoreboard first. A lead off walk issued by Rasmussen in the third came back to bite him when a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second and a single back up the middle for a 1-0 Sooners' lead.
The Bruins wouldn't let that lead last, evening the game and then taking the lead in the top half of the fourth. Tyler Rahmatulla got the inning going with a lead off single and Cody Keefer was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners on second and third. A wild pitch advanced each 90 feet and when Dean Espy singled, Rahmatulla scored. With Keefer on third and the game tied at one apiece, Justin Uribe put down a squeeze bunt that led to a play at the plate, but Keefer beat the throw to score. Steve Rodriguez then singled through the left side to score Espy and stretch the Bruins' lead to 3-1 in the third.
Rasmussen had no problems in the fourth or fifth, but had work to do in the sixth. A walk and single put runners on the corners with two men out with a .390 hitter at the plate, but Rasmussen got him swinging for strike three.
That put a ribbon on Rasmussen's day and paved the way for Goeddel's entrance. The right-hander had no problems with the first two batters he faced, putting each away on strikes, but the following batter launched a home run to left.
With the lead just 3-2, Goeddel walked the lead off man in the eighth and head coach John Savage called to his bullpen. Klein came jogging out to pick up the six out save and he quickly put out any fire that Goeddel had left. The second pitch that Klein threw was rolled to second base for a 4-6-3 double play and the following batter flied out to left for the third out of the eighth.
The Bruins went in search of insurance runs in the ninth and they got them in two-out dramatic fashion. Chris Giovinazzo reached on an error to start the inning, but the next two batters were retired. Giovinazzo swiped second and third, though, putting pressure on the Oklahoma pitcher. Gallego drew a walk to put runners on the corners and Rahmatulla singled to score Giovinazzo and make it a 4-2 ballgame. A walk loaded the bases and with the pitcher working out of the windup, Gallego took off from third. The junior came flying down the line and slid at the plate for a clean, straight steal of home that gave UCLA a 5-2 advantage.
Klein ran into some trouble in the ninth, putting two men on with two out to bring the tying run to the plate. The tying run at the plate came in the form of a 6'4'' 238 lbs. monster, but Klein got him to ground out to third for the 27th and final out.
Rahmatulla was the only Bruin with two hits in the ballgame, going 2-5 with a run and RBI for a team-leading eighth multi-hit game on the year. While Rahmatulla was the only UCLA player with more than one hit, all but one Bruin registered a hit and the one who didn't, Giovinazzo, came through with a big run scored in the ninth.
With a 13-0 record, UCLA will not have a midweek game this week as the players take finals. They will return to action on Friday when they welcome Oral Roberts to Jackie Robinson Stadium for game one of a three-game set. Make sure to keep an eye on my UCLA baseball twitter all week as the various top 25 rankings are released and national writers recap a weekend that should reference the Bruins' outstanding start.