UCLA's home season started with a disappointing extra innings loss, but they made sure that it would end much better with a 2-1 win over UC Santa Barbara. Now their regular season home slate is in the books, and a 24-9 home mark with it, leaving the Bruins with one goal -- a strong final weekend at Stanford and a return to Jackie Robinson Stadium next week for the Regionals.
The Bruins' spot at a Regional host is just about locked up, but a national seed is still on the table and a return to Jackie Robinson Stadium for the Super Regionals would suit 37-15 UCLA just fine.
Whereas the bullpen let UCLA down on February 15 when the Bruins started their season, it was spot on against the Gauchos. After Cody Poteet worked six innings of one-run ball, the bullpen locking things down. James Kaprielian tossed a scoreless frame and Zack Weiss followed with one of his own before David Berg slammed the door to pick up his 17th save.
Poteet ran into first inning trouble when a two-out RBI single put UCSB in front, but he was nearly perfect from there on out. The freshman walked one in the second inning, but that was the only other Gaucho that reached against Poteet.
With Poteet cruising, the Bruins didn't need much offense and they didn't get much, totaling just six hits in the game. They ran themselves out of the first inning when they were twice caught stealing, but Pat Valaika tripled to start the second and Kevin Williams singled him home to tie the game at 1-1.
From there on, UCLA struggled to do much at the plate. They ran themselves out of the fourth, but were otherwise inept until the sixth, when they finally got back on the scoreboard.
Brian Carroll and Kevin Kramer singled to start the frame and after an Eric Filia sacrifice bunt, Carroll was standing just 90 feet away. All Valaika had to do was lift a fly ball deep enough for the speedy Carroll to tag, which he did, and the Bruins took a 2-1 lead.
With the lead in hand, UCLA pulled Poteet and turned the game over to the bullpen, which finished the game with ease, and the Bruins' home slate in style.