A Happy Dad's Day to everyone in Bruin Nation. It's a special one as we are all celebrating it with our first win in the college baseball world series. Ryan has the through recap from last night's Florida demolition here.
While watching last night's game I had one thought going through my head from start to finish. I just kept thinking we had the chance to follow this team more closely via TV all season long. I had more fun watching Trevor Bauer going through his "motions," UCLA hitters working the count by fouling of pitches after pitches, Niko Gallego attacking along the basepad than I have had watching any MLB team over the years.
Last night's dramatics along with the recent games against Cal State Fullerton was some incredible drama. I was just as emotionally invested in those games as I am for any UCLA football or basketball games, and I think at least to me it underscored the point how important it is to get these kids on TV more often in the coming season. Well, at least to me that was more compelling than the Strasburg hype we have been saturated with, out in the East Coast.
I thought for sure the team was going to implode after Florida took 2-1 lead and Cody Regis looked to have difficult time at second base (perhaps I was getting swayed a little too much by the "commentary" coming from Robin Ventura). Well Bauer and co. showed even more mettle than the Ben Ball warriors on the big stage. Lot of it had to do with the kind of leadership Tyler Rahmatulla provided in last few days. From Jon Gold in the Daily News:
"For those who know him, he's a great guy," shortstop Niko Gallego said. "He feels terrible, but he knows he can contribute, and that's what he's done. He's taken Regis under his wing; they sat together on the plane, they sit together on the bus. We're taking ground balls at practice, and Rammy's right out there with him.
"It's great for him, and it's great for Cody."
More after the jump.
Niko Gallego was the lynch pin in UCLA's relentless offense against the Gators:
"We knew that there's two sides of the ball," said shortstop Niko Gallego, who was four for five and scored two runs. "They do what they do on their side, and we do what we do on our side." [...]
Without their leader in hits, the Bruins still were impressive at the plate. They pounded out 18 hits against the third-seeded Gators, who threw ace Alex Panteliodis. He lasted just 31/3 innings after allowing five hits and four earned runs.
"We had 15 singles out of 18 hits," UCLA Coach John Savage said. "We kind of pecked away at them. We didn't have a home run all night. It was a typical game offensively for us in terms of we used the middle field, we had a bunch of singles. We had some stolen bases, we kept on coming after them."
More from Blair Angulo on how Bruins managed (well by Savage) without Rahmatulla in the lineup:
To make up for Rahmatulla's absence, head coach John Savage moved third baseman Cody Regis to second and gave first baseman Dean Espy the nod at third. The defensive alterations didn't affect the two at the plate, with Regis and Espy combining to go 4 for 12 with three RBIs in the heart of the lineup.
Another switch that worked: moving shortstop Niko Gallego -- usually the No. 9 hitter -- to the leadoff spot. Gallego, a .277 hitter this season, was 4 for 5 and scored twice. Beau Amaral adjusted well from being bumped from his usual leadoff spot, going 3 for 4 in the No. 2 hole to set the table and keep the No. 3-seeded Bruins on the verge of scoring throughout the game.
Well the Bruins still have room for improvement. As relentless as they were last night they still left lot of guys on base. They are going to have to turn it up another notch against a red hot TCU team which is coming of their own blasting of traditional power Florida State (don't forget they also disposed off the Longhorns in the super regional).
Gerrit Cole is going to get the start tomorrow night (6 pm PST). The anticipation around here is going to be just as intense as any Final-4 game or a date in the New Year's Bowl. Hope the guys can keep the magic going in Omaha.