The UCLA offense showed no sign of slowing down as they scored double digit runs for the third time in three games this year to beat Cal St. Northridge, 14-5, in the final game of the MLB Urban Invitational. Northridge gave the Bruins a scare early on, jumping out to a 2-0 and 4-1 lead, but the UCLA offense, led by Beau Amaral's 4-5, two run, three RBI performance with a home run, picked it up and the Bruins improved to 3-0 on the season.
While the offense was smacking away at the ball, the Bruins got an outstanding performance from their bullpen, who threw 5.1 innings, allowed just four hits and only one unearned run.
Rob Rasmussen got the start for the Bruins, but struggled to command his fastball, making it difficult for him to get to his deadly curveball. In the second inning, Rasmussen walked the leadoff man and after a single, the Matadors had runners on the corners. A ground out to first scored the runner from first and a double two batters later scored the other runner to put Northridge up 2-0.
UCLA responded in the bottom of the inning by getting one of the runs back. Blair Dunlap, who has made a habit of finding a way on base in the early going, walked to lead off the inning and a single by Cody Regis advanced him to third. From there, Niko Gallego just needed a ground ball to score the run and that's what he did, hitting into a RBI fielder's choice to make the score 2-1.
Rasmussen ran into more trouble in the fourth inning and the southpaw would not make it out of the frame. A leadoff walk got him again and a wild pitch put a runner on second with two out. A single plated that run and a stolen base put another runner on second base with the Matadors leading 3-1. Another single scored another run for Northridge, giving them a 4-1 lead and knocking Rasmussen out of the game. Erik Goeddel replaced Rasmussen and in his first appearance of the year, got the out to get out of the inning.
In the bottom half of the fourth, the Bruins evened it up with some help from their unexpected friend who is becoming rapidly more familiar, the long ball. Regis led off the inning with a double to right center and a single by Gallego put runners on first and third. A beautiful squeeze bunt by Steve Rodriguez plated Regis, making the score 4-2 and bringing Amaral to the plate. The freshman, known more for his speed, got a hold of the first pitch he saw and launched it over the right field fence and onto the roof of the hitting facility beyond the fence.
With the game tied 4-4, the Bruins had themselves a fresh start and took advantage. After Goeddel sat Northridge down in the top of the fifth, Dunlap led off another inning with a walk. After taking third on a pick-off gone awry, Dunlap came home to score on a single by the pinch hitter, Dean Espy. Gallego followed with a double to score Espy and the Bruins were ahead 6-4. Rodriguez was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second then Amaral singled to score Gallego. A wild pitch advance Rodriguez to third and Amaral to second so Marc Navarro's fly ball to centerfield allowed Rodriguez to tag and score for the Bruins' eighth run.
The Bruins weren't done, though, and Espy proved it in the sixth with a two run homer. The following inning Northridge scored a run, but in the bottom half of the inning Tyler Rahmatulla hit a double with the bases loaded to drive three in and all of a sudden, UCLA led 13-5. A Northridge error in the eighth allowed Tyler Heineman to reach base and another error let him move to second so when Dennis Holt, in his first collegiate at-bat, singled, the Bruins went ahead 14-5.
Rasmussen lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing five hits and four runs with three walks thrown in,although he did strike out seven. Goeddel threw 2.2 scoreless innings of relief to earn the win and Matt Grace entered and threw 1.2 perfect innings. Dan Klein threw in the ninth inning, sitting the Matadors down in order to close out the game and send the Bruins to 3-0.
Espy went 2-3 with two runs, three RBI and a home run, while Rahmatulla finished 2-4 on the day with three RBI. Six Bruins had multiple hits on the day and a total of 10 UCLA batters finished with at least one hit. After three games, the Bruins have scored 40 runs this season, a number that took them eight games to reach in 2009. They have also outscored their opponents 40-10 on the young season.
UCLA will return to action on Tuesday when they head south to play Long Beach St. at Blair Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 and it is expected that Garett Claypool will make his first start of the season for the Bruins.