UCLA may have exorcised their demons when they beat Cal St. Fullerton in last year's Super Regionals to advance to the College World Series, but that didn't mean that the Titans were a thing of the past. Each and every season the Bruins could count of the Titans rolling out a quality team and one that will challenge for a national title. This season is no different and the Bruins didn't have what it took to beat Fullerton on Tuesday night at Goodwin Field as the Titan took down the Bruins, 5-3, in the first game of a two-game midweek series that will continue on May 17 in Westwood.
Scott Griggs had been the Bruins' Tuesday starter in the team's first two midweek games, but the sophomore wasn't head coach John Savage's first choice. In a perfect world, Zack Weiss would have been the midweek starter from day one, but the freshman was nursing a sore elbow. On Tuesday night at Fullerton, Weiss finally got his first start. Weiss had a rough first inning, surrendering three runs, but he calmed down and found a bit of a groove as his start went on, eventually exiting the game after 4.1 innings with only one more unearned run charged to him. Weiss only allowed runs in his first inning before settling down and didn't allow another run, but the damage was done. Mitchell Beacom gave up one run in relief and Nick Vander Tuig tossed 0.2 innings of scoreless relief, but it wasn't enough to keep the Bruins from taking the loss.
The UCLA offense was done no favors by the absence of Tyler Rahmatulla, who was on the bench for Tuesday;s game as an academic issue was looked at. In his absence, Dean Espy picked up a pair of hits and a run scored while Marc Navarro drove in a pair for a Bruin offense that looked ineffective.
A hit by pitch, bunt single and bit by pitch put Weiss in a tough spot from the onset. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Weiss was hardly in the position that a freshman pitcher in his first start envys. A single followed and the Titans were ahead 1-0. One batter later Fullerton added another single and this time two runs scored so just one inning in the Bruins were chasing three.
UCLA put pressure on Fullerton in the second when Espy led off the inning with a single and a walk put men on second and third with two outs, but the Bruins couldn't cash in.
Two innings later, UCLA had another chance and they took advantage by getting a run, but would rue their chance to get more. A single, hit by pitch and walk loaded up the bases with two outs and when a pick off attempted went awry, the Bruins were able to push one across to make it a 3-1 ballgame. After the error, UCLA still had two in scoring position, but a ground out ended that threat.
A fifth inning run, charged to Weiss because he let the eventual run scorer on base, but was the result of a Beacom error. Whoever one blamed for that run, Fullerton got it and led 4-1. Another run, this one charged to Beacom came on in and the Bruins were down by four, a tall task for an offense that has had its problems this season.
The Bruins did their best to make the series competitive in the seventh, but they didn't have the firepower. Singles by Espy and the Jeff Gelalich lit the Bruin bases afire and also the UCLA team afire. Navarro followed that up with a rip of his own that scored a pair, but that was as close as the Bruins would get.