Beau Amaral's four hits, four RBI and four runs led a 20-hit UCLA effort (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)
After dropping the opening game of a key three-game series against Arizona on Friday night, UCLA had to come back on Saturday and get a win or lose the series and fall three games behind the leaders in the Pac-12 race. Well, the Bruins did much more than just win. Led by Beau Amaral's four hit, four RBI, four run performance, the Bruins absolutely destroyed the Wildcats. They pounding out 20 hits en route to a 15-3 win that to even up the series and move to within a game of Arizona and Oregon, who are tied atop the Pac-12.
While everyone in the UCLA lineup hit the ball, the top of the order was extraordinary as Amaral, Tyler Heineman and Cody Keefer combined to go 11 for 16 in the game, score seven times and drive in five. Amaral led the way and extended his hitting streak to 17 games, while Heineman also extended his hitting streak, pushing it to 13 games with a four hir, two run, one RBI evening. Keefer chipped in with three hits of own and Pat Valaika and Cody Regis got the job done at the bottom of the order with each picking up two hits, two RBI and two runs.
It wasn't just an offensive game for the Bruins either. Nick Vander Tuig got a big lead early and did exactly what he had to do -- throw strikes. He walked just one in 5.2 innings, holding the nation's top offense to three runs on eight hits as he earned the win and improved to 4-2 on the year. David Berg ate up 2.1 innings in relief, allowing no runs, before Zack Ortiz came in to finish things off with a scoreless ninth.
Amaral set the tone for UCLA right from the beginning. He singled to start off the game and after a Heineman walk, the Bruins had two on with none out. Cody Keefer then laid down a bunt, which was good for a single, but the throw got away on it, allowed Amaral and Heineman to score for a 2-0 Bruin lead. A single up the middle by Valaika then scored Keefer before Brown finished up the scoring later in the inning with a two-out, two-RBI single for a UCLA five-spot in the first.
Consecutive singles and a groundout got the Wildcats their first run of the game in the second inning and added another with a two-out RBI double in the third to cut the UCLA lead to 5-2.
With the Bruins' lead shrinking, Amaral got UCLA going again. He hit the first pitch of the fourth inning for a single to left and Heineman followed with a single before Keefer bunted for a single to load the bases. After a strikeout, Brown's groundout plated Amaral and the Bruins had a four-run lead.
An inning later, UCLA put the game to bed. Valaika and Regis singled to start the inning before Kevin Williams was hit by a pitch to load the bags. Amaral then hit into a fielder's choice that scored a run before Heineman laid down a perfect squeeze bunt. Regis scored on the play as Heineman was credited with a single on it, but an error on it also allowed Amaral to score for a 9-2 Bruin advantage. A single by Jeff Gelalich then plated Heinemen and with a 10-2 lead, the Bruins were well on their way to victory.
Just because the Bruins were crushing the Wildcats didn't mean that Amaral was going to slow down, though. With two on in the sixth, the junior roped one into right center. By the time the Wildcats chased it down and got it in, Amaral was standing on third with a two-RBI triple and the Bruins were up 12-2.
Arizona got one run back in the sixth inning, but Berg came in to put out the fire and UCLA got that run back plus two more in the eighth anyways.
Shane Zeile led off the eighth by smacking the first pitch he saw down the left field line for a triple and Valaika's groundout scored him. After Regis walked, Amaral hit his second triple of the game into the right center field gap, scoring Regis. Heineman put a cap on things with a RBI single that pushed his batting average to .443 on the year as the Bruins cruised to a 15-3 win.