With his team down to their final out, Tyler Rahmatulla hit a season-saving two run home run in the ninth before UCLA won it in the tenth (Photo Credit: Official Site)
At least for one night, UCLA was able to get past the Fullerton hex. Down to their last out not just of the game, but of the season, the Bruins got a two run home run from Tyler Rahmatulla to save their bacon. UCLA gave that run back and eventually had to win the contest in ten innings, 11-7, in one of the best games you can see at the college level. The lead changes, dramatic plays, fantastic fielding and clutch hitting all came together in an instant classic.
In the end, the Bruins got the W and every college baseball fan got what they were hoping for after two great games between the Bruins and the Titans, a third one. With Fullerton having won the series opener on Friday night and UCLA picking up the Saturday contest, the Super Regional will come down to a single game on Sunday with the winner earning a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
As has become the norm in the postseason, Cody Regis provided the power. The freshman went 2-5 with two RBI and two runs, hitting his third and fourth home run of the postseason. Justin Uribe let the club with three hits on the game, scoring a run and driving one in as well. Rahmatulla picked up only one hit in his five at-bats, but he made it count with a clutch homer. By the time the ten innings came to a close, ten different Bruins had scored UCLA's 11 runs in the ballgame.
It wasn't Trevor Bauer's finest night, especially late in the outing, but he did enough to keep the Bruins within striking distance. In seven innings, the sophomore surrendered six runs on nine hits, striking out six and walking two. He handed the ball to Matt Grace who struck out one of the two batters he faced, neither of whom reached. Dan Klein had some trouble in the ninth inning and allowed the game to go to extra innings when he couldn't get any help from his defense, but the right-hander buckled down and picked up the win after 2.1 innings of two hit, one run (none earned) ball.
On Friday night, UCLA scored the first run of the game, but lost. On Saturday night, they scored first again. After three innings of strong pitching by both teams' pitchers, Uribe turned on a 1-1 pitch and skied it well over the right field fence and on to the hitting facility for a solo home run.
UCLA's lead lasted all of an inning because Tyler Pill doubled to left field in the bottom half of the fourth for Fullerton, then a lazy blooper fell in with two outs to score Pill for a tie game.
As quickly as the Titans responded, UCLA got their lead back. In the top of the fifth, Niko Gallego drew a one out walk before stealing both second and third. With one out, Beau Amaral got a squeeze bunt down and while there was a play at the plate, Gallego got under the tag and the Fullerton catcher dropped the ball anyways.
Right back again, Fullerton evened the game in the bottom half of the fifth. With a man on third and two out, Bauer hung a two-strike breaking ball and he paid for it when it was lined to right for a RBI single, tying the game at twos.
Down in the count 1-2, Regis reached out and smacked a pitch the other way to left field and the ball just carried over the fence for a solo home run. A single by Chris Giovinazzo and walk by Jeff Gelalich put two on, then Gallego's sacrifice bunt was bobble and the Bruins had the bases loaded with none out. Steve Rodriguez found himself behind in the count and eventually chopped one to second base for a tailor made double play. Even though the Bruins weren't looking for the double play, it was enough to score a run for a 4-2 edge.
In the bottom of the seventh, Fullerton gave the game its first momentum shift. A single and walk started the inning, then a sacrifice bunt was poorly defended and went for a single. With the bases loaded, UCLA got a double play of their own, 4-6-3. The double play cut into the Titans' momentum, but it did score a run. After a walk, a soft flair found the edge of the infield between shortstop and third base for a RBI single, tying the game at four apiece. After a wild pitch moved each runner up 90 feet, a ground ball towards first base got under Uribe's glove for a two RBI single.
Trailing 6-4, UCLA did a little damage thanks to Regis. While he took one the other way for his first home run, Regis pulled his second to right field, battering the hitting facility for his second solo jack of the game.
It looked as if the UCLA season would come to an end in the ninth when the first two batters of the inning were retired, but Blair Dunlap walked to give the UCLA fans hope. With the Fullerton pitcher wild, Rahmatulla came to the plate and quickly was ahead 3-0. The Titan fans rose to their feet in anticipation of clinching an Omaha berth, while the Bruin fans rose as they tried to will their team to a final out comeback. After taking a 3-1 fastball, Rahmatulla got the barrel of his bat on a 3-1 pitch and drove it high and deep to left center for a two run blast that sent the blue and gold clad faithful into a frenzy. When Rahmatulla reached home plate, he was greeted by his entire team, hats still worn backwards for a rally cap that proved successful.
Carrying a 8-7 advantage to the bottom of the ninth, the Bruins ran into trouble. An out started the frame, but a single and walk put two on. Pinch runner Gary Brown took off from second on the lead end of a double steal and it looked like he was toast, but Regis dropped the ball and Brown was safe. Not only did the ball get away, it trickled into left field so one runner came across to tie the game at seven apiece, while Colon took third base as the winning run with just one out. At this point, Klein was in the game and here, he showed nerves of steel by getting a ground out then ground out to send the two teams to extra innings.
Still looking for their winning runs, the Bruins found them in the tenth. A single by Gelalich got the team going, but it was England's continued walks that hurt the Yaks when they loaded the bases with none out. Having not played in several weeks Trevor Brown got the chance off of the bench and he converted. The freshman pinch hitter pulled a hard ground ball through the hole in the left side of the infield for a two RBI single. Leading 9-7, the Bruins got some more help with a dropped fly ball in left that allowed two to score for a 11-7 UCLA edge.
In the tenth, Klein was back on the hill to finish off his win, but he got some help from stellar defense. After a pop up, Gallego went way into the hole, dove, caught it and threw across the diamonds to first . With the second out of the inning in the bag, Klein once again turned to Gallego for another great diving play that ended the game.
Now, the ticket to Omaha for the College World Series will come down to a single game, which will be played at 7 pm PDT at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Rob Rasmussen (10-2, 2.90 ERA) will start for UCLA in the contest, opposite Dylan Floro (7-1, 3.08 ERA) in the deciding third game.