UCLA's offense was MIA on Friday night, when they mustered just six hits in a season-opening loss, but they showed just how explosive they could be on Saturday when they broke out for 16 hits in a 14-0 win over Minnesota to tie the series at a game apiece.
The top of the order led the Bruins' hit barrage as the first four batters combined for 11 hits, seven RBI and seven runs. Eric Filia led the way with a 3-for-6, three RBI, three run effort that included a towering home run to right for the Bruins' first dinger of the season. Kevin Kramer kept his hot start going with a 3-for-4, two RBI, two run effort, while Ty Moore picked up his first three career hits in a 3-for-6 performance that included two RBI and two runs. Pat Valaika rounded out the top of the order assault with two hits, while Trent Chatterton chipped in from the nine hole with two hits and three runs scored.
As good as the offense was, the Bruins hardly need such an outburst thanks to some outstanding pitching. Nick Vander Tuig gave UCLA reason to believe his standout performance's in the postseason a year ago are going to be the norm with six efficient shutout innings and he was backed up by a pair of freshman. Hunter Virant allowed a hit and walked one, but still got through his one inning unscathed before Cody Poteet worked two strong innings, striking out two.
The Bruins got started early with a single by Filia and double by Moore to lead off the first. That brought up Kramer, who roped a two-RBI single and UCLA was off and running. After a single by Valaika moved Kramer to third, Chris Keck continued his strong start to the season with a hard hit fly out to center, allowing Kramer to tage and score easily for a 3-0 UCLA lead.
An inning later, Filia added to the lead with a bomb to right. A Chatterton single brought Fila up with two outs and the sophomore tagged a pitch, hitting it onto the hitting facility for the team's first long ball of the season.
The third inning looked a lot like the first two, with Valaika singling and Keck reaching on an error to put two men on with one out. Darrell Miller Jr. then singled to left for his first career hit, scoring Valaika and Brenton Allen singled himself, scoring Keck as the Bruins went up 7-0.
Minnesota only kept UCLA off the scoreboard in the fourth because a liner by Miller Jr. found the right fielder with the bases loaded, but the Bruins struck for more in the fifth. Allen and Chatterton singled to put two on with one out for Filia, who laced a single to right, playing Chatterton. Allen then added another run with aggressive baserunning, taking third base and forcing a bad throw that allowed him to score and make it 9-0. An error then allowed Moore to reach and scored Filia before Kramer singled and Valaika walked to load the bases. A walk by Keck forced Moore home before Miller Jr. capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to give the Bruins a commanding 12-0 lead.
With the way Vander Tuig was piching, such a big lead was just icing on the cake for UCLA. he commanded his fastball well and threw it to both sides of the plate, setting up his curveball and leaving the Gophers helpless. He had one stretch from the second to the sixth innings when he retired 12 straight in an exceedingly comfortable and impressive start to the season.
The freshmen Chatterton and Moore combined to add to the Bruins' lead in the sixth when Chatterton waked with one out. A groundout moved him to second before Moore singled to right, scoring Chatterton easily and making it a 13-0 ballgame.
UCLA finished off their offensive storm in the seventh when Allen's groundout scored pinch-hitter Pat Gallagher, but the game was already long over. They had already lit up the scoreboard, Vander Tuig had already quieted the Gophers' offense and with Virant and Poteet working comfortably in the last three, the game was in the bag; UCLA had their first win of the season, and a big one at that.