UCLA Falls Just Short of National Title With 2-1 Loss In 11 Innings

Rob Rasmussen bounced back to give the Bruins a great start, but he didn't get the support he needed (Photo Credit: Official Site)

A season full of records came to an end in 11 heartbreaking innings for UCLA. After setting a school record when they won their first 22 games of the season, finished second in the Pac-10, won a Regional that they hosted, took down nemesis Cal St. Fullerton as the number six national seed in a Super Regional that they hosted, won a College World Series game for the first time in program history, advanced to the College World Series Championship Series and won a school-record 51 games, the Bruins finally saw the curtain come down on their incredible season.

An anemic offensive performance in game one of the Championship Series put the Bruins' backs against the wall, then another game fulled of missed opportunities ended UCLA's season and they fell in 11 innings to South Carolina, 2-1. When the Gamecocks got the game-winning single in the 11th, it ended what is easily the most successful season in UCLA history and left many Bruin players in tears as their chance at winning the final national title at Rosenblatt Stadium faded away.

Rob Rasmussen got the start for UCLA and looked to bounce back from a rough first start at the College World Series. The junior did just that, shutting the Gamecocks out in his six innings of work, even if it wasn't always the easiest of innings. Rasmussen walked four and struck out five, while allowing six hits and when he exited the game, he was in line to pick up the win. Erik Goeddel allowed a pair of hits in his inning of work, but one of the men he left on base would come home to score on an error. Dan Klein was charged with keeping UCLA in the game and the closer, who had a season-long appearance of 2.2 innings coming into the game, did just that for three innings. It wasn't until he went out to he mound for his fourth inning that he finally allowed a run, one that won South Carolina the game.

The inability to get the necessary runs is what ended the Bruins' season, mustering a total of two runs in the two Championship Series games. Trevor Brown stepped in for his first start this postseason and went 2-4 with a run scored for the Bruins, while Beau Amaral and Brett Krill each had a pair of hits as well. Niko Gallego's lone hit went for the Bruins' lone RBI, but it was the 10 left on base that made the difference.

A base running error hurt the Bruins right from the get-go. One out singles by Amaral and Blair Dunlap put two men on for UCLA, but Amaral got picked off at second. Dean Espy followed by getting walk, but instead of having the bases loaded with only one out, the pick off left the Bruins with just two on and two out before a fielder's choice ended the frame.

It was almost the Gamecocks who got on the board first, loading up the bases in the second. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Rasmussen walked a pair and allowed a single, but he got a fly out to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.

A double with one out in the third by Amaral gave the Bruins a chance to grab the lead, but a ground out and strike out left them without a run.

In the fifth inning, UCLA finally put something other than a zero on the scoreboard. A lead off single by Brown was followed by a sacrifice bunt by Steve Rodriguez to advance Brown to second. Then, Gallego hit the first pitch he saw into left center for a RBI single to put UCLA up 1-0.

South Carolina had their chance to even the game in the bottom half of the inning, but with runners at the corners, Rasmussen got the strike out he needed to keep South Carolina's zero on the scoreboard.

UCLA had their chance to stretch their lead when Krill led off the seventh with a double. A sacrifice bunt moved him to third and when Brown was hit by a pitch, the Bruins had men on the corners. A foul out behind the plate and ground out wasn't good enough though, ending the inning with the Bruins clinging to just their one run lead.

After failing to capitalize on their opportunities, UCLA paid for it in the eighth. A single and ground out moved the tying run into scoring position for the Gamecocks, but it was an error on a chopper to Espy at first that allowed the man to come around and tie the game at one apiece.

The following inning, UCLA had their chance to grab the lead back when they loaded up the bases with two outs, but a three pitch strike out by Gallego put any hopes of winning the game in nine innings to bed.

A walk and wild pitch didn't hurt the Bruins in the 10th inning because Klein got the strike out he needed, but they wouldn't get away with it in the 11th.

A lead off walk got the South Carolina half of the 11th going, then a passed ball moved the runner to second. After a sacrifice bunt, a single to right was all it took to score the winning run and give South Carolina their first baseball national title.

While it would provide them little comfort as they walked off the field, Beau Amaral, Trevor Bauer and Cody Regis were all deservedly honored with spots on the 2010 College World Series All-Tournament Team for their fantastic play.

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