Rob Rasmussen's dominant mound performance helped UCLA tie a school record for regular-season wins (Photo Credit: Official Site)
For the Bruins to get to eight straight Pac-10 wins and 40 wins overall in 2010, it's taken some luck, some help and some good play. On Sunday, they got a little lucky and some help from Cal, but they needed none of it. From the start to the finish, UCLA was better than the Golden Bears and as a result, they walked away with an 11-2 win that completes the series sweep of Cal in Berkeley. The win is the Bruins' ninth staight in conference and 41st overall this season, which ties a school record for regular-season wins in a season that was set in 1979.
At 41-11 overall and 16-8 in the Pac-10, the Bruins are sitting pretty and staring down the barrel at a national seed with a solid finish in their final four games. A single win next weekend versus the visiting Washington St. Cougars will secure second-place in the Pac-10 for UCLA and along with a win on Tuesday over Cal St. Fullerton might be enough to clinch that elusive national seed that would guarantee the Bruins home field all the way to the College World Series.
Anytime a team puts 11 runs on the scoreboard it's going to grab people's attention, but on Sunday, the pitching was equally as good. Rob Rasmussen did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and while that hit was a home run, it did little to ruin a great start for the junior. In 6.2 innings, Rasmussen struck out six and allowed just one run on two hits to pick up the win and improve to 8-2 on the year. The Bruins also got 1.1 scoreless innings of relief from Erik Goeddel and Scot Griggs allowed one run in the ninth.
At the plate, the Bruins got going early and never stopped. By the end of the game, they had pounded out 18 for their 11 runs, 10 players had contributed to the hit count and seven had multi-hit games. They sent 48 batters to the plate, only seven of whom struck out and they even got some help from three Cal errors. Dean Espy led the way with a 3-4, three RBI, two run effort and Blair Dunlap manned the lead off role with a 2-5, two RBI, two run performance. Tyerl Rahmatulla also went 2-5 and he scored twice, while Steve Rodriguez and Beau Amaral each went 2-4. Brett Krill and Chris Giovinazzo had identical lines with each going 2-5 with a run and RBI for the Bruins. Late in the game when the bench was empiter, Tyler Heineman entered and the freshman recorded his first career hit.
It took all of one batter for the Bruins to start their offense. Dunlap led off the game with a double and he was later brought home by Espy's bunt single. After Espy took second, Krill double to right center, bringing Espy around to score and after one inning, UCLA led 2-0.
That lead got even bigger the following inning and it all started with an error that allowed Cody Regis to reach. After Giovinazzo doubled to put runners at second and third, Dunlap singled to score them both. Dunlap then managed to steal home to keep his big day going before Espy launched his seventh home run of the year to give UCLA a 7-0 cushion.
Cal's lead off man in ths fifth ended Rasmussen's no-hit bid with a home run, but it didn't faze the southpaw. He kept dealing and thanks to seventh inning RBI by Niko Gallego and Giovinazzo, when Rasmussen exited the game, UCLA had a 9-1 lead.
Some more cushion can never hurt and that's what the Bruins got in the eighth. Singles by Amaral, Rahmatulla and Espy started the inning and an error by the Cal catcher allowed Amaral to come in and score. The Bruins wouldn't muster another hit, but thanks to a wild pitch, they got another run and took an 11-1 lead.
The Bears scored one in the ninth when the game was well out of reach to make it a 11-2 ballgame, but it wasn't nearly enough to stop UCLA from winning their 11th game in their last 12.