Before Sunday's game at Jackie Robinson Stadium got underway, the Bruins received good news. The NCAA named UCLA the host of one of the 16 Regionals for June 4-7, meaning that at least for step one of the three-step postseason, the Bruins will have the comforts of home. Just after receiving that bit of news, the Bruins and the 1,165 fans in attendance got to give a deserved send-off to the four UCLA seniors, Garett Claypool. Blair Dunlap, Justin Uribe and a team manager/bullpen catcher.
With that, the game finally got underway and the Bruins brought the curtain down on the regular season with an 11-1 defeat of Washington St. to win the three-game set. The victory gave the Bruins an overall record of 43-13 on the campaign, the best regular season mark in program history. In conference play UCLA went 18-9 to capture second-place in the conference with some comfort. The Bruins also set a record in the stands where they finished the season with an average of 1,029 fans per game.
Both of the Bruin seniors at the plate picked up base hits with Dunlap's big day leading the way for the Bruins. While Uribe went 1-4, Dunlap went 3-5 with a pair of runs scored and a RBI. Both seniors reached base in the later innings and were removed from the game for a final jog off of the field to the applause of the crowd. Beau Amaral went 2-4 with a run and RBI, while Dean Espy went 2-4 with a run and team-leading four RBI. Chris Giovinazzo drove one in and scored one as part of his 3-4 effort and Trevor Brown made his lone at-bat count, hitting his first career home run.
On the mound, Rob Rasmussen pieced together his second consecutive fantastic start. The junior limited the Cougars to one run on four hits and improved to 9-2 on the year with his six strong innings. Claypool got to walk off of the field in his senior day to the applause of the crowd as well after his 1.2 shutout innings. Matt Grace got the only batter he faced out and Dan Klein had little trouble in a scoreless ninth.
It was Dunlap, on his senior day, that started the Bruins off in the first. A hard ground ball sneaked inside the third base line for a lead off double and after tagging on a fly ball to center, Dunlap came home to score on a squeeze bunt by Espy.
A two-out rally stretched the Bruins' lead some more in the next inning. Walks by Giovinazzo and Steve Rodriguez with two outs put the pressure on Washington St., then Dunlap laced a single to left to bring Giovinazzo home. Amaral followed with a single of his own, scoring Rodriguez and giving UCLA a 3-0 edge. After a double steal by Dunlap and Amaral, Tyler Rahmatulla was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then, Espy did just enough to drop a single into right field, scoring Dunlap and Amaral for a 5-0 UCLA lead.
Neither team did much to threaten again until the sixth inning when the Cougar bats finally made an impact. A walk with one out started things and a single put runners on the corners with still just one out. Then, a grounder to third looked like it could be the inning-ending double play, but after getting the out at first, the Bruins just missed getting the batter going to first. That fielder's choice allowed a run to score as the Cougars cut the Bruins' lead to 5-1.
A double with one out by Uribe gave the Bruins a chance and with two outs Giovinazzon hit one right on the barrel that flew on a line all the way to the fence in dead center field. That rope went for a triple and a RBI to stretch the Bruins' advantage to 6-1.
The eighth inning put the game out of reach for Wazzu. A single by Dunlap and walk by Rahmatulla put two on, then a single by Espy scored one for a 7-1 UCLA lead. Rahmatulla took third on Espy's single and when Brett Krill grounded out, Rahmatulla scored from third. A double by Cody Regis scored Espy for a 9-1 Bruin lead, then the pinch-hitter Brown put one over the fence for the first time in his collegiate career for a two-run blast.
With the 11-1 win in the bag and the regular season complete, the Bruin players and their families head off to the team banquet tonight. Then, they will wake up tomorrow and tune into ESPN at 9:30 am PDT to find out who they will play in the Regionals and whether they received a national seed on the NCAA Selection Show.