The UCLA offense answered questions about their offense with a 14-0 shellacking of Minnesota on Saturday to force a Sunday rubber match, when the Bruins offense broke out again in a big way. They totaled 17 more hits and another 14 runs in a 14-1 win over the Gophers to claim the season opening series.
As was the case a day earlier, the top of the Bruins' offense did the bulk of the work on Sunday. The top four men in the UCLA order totaled eight hits, reached 14 times, scored seven runs and drove in six runs. Brian Carroll has three hits, two runs and a RBI, while Eric Filia had a couple hits and three RBI, Kevin Kramer drove in three and Pat Valaika had two hits, two RBI and a run. Trent Chatterton had another big game in the nine hole, going 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs and Pat Gallagher made his first start of the season count with a 2-for-3, three RBI effort.
The pitching was excellent, too, with Grant Watson showing why he won a job in the weekend rotation. The southpaw had some trouble in the first inning, but go out unscathed and was untouchable form then on, working six shutout inning, allowing only two hits and striking out eight without a walk. David Berg looked oddly mortal in surrendering one run on four hits in two innings before James Kaprielian made his debut with a dominating ninth inning.
The Bruins got off to a red hot start thanks to some wild Gopher pitching. Filia was hit to start the first and after a beautiful bunt single by Carroll, Kramer walked on four pitches to load the bases with nobody out. That brought up Valaika, who laced a line drive RBI-single to center. Shane Zeile followed with a slow roller to first for a groundout, but that was enough to score Carroll. Gallagher then hit a hard grounder over the first base bag and into the right field corner for a two-RBI double that made it a 4-0 ballgame. A double by Darrell Miller Jr. followed put two men on for Ty Moore, who reached on an error, allowing Gallagher to score. A single by Chatterton meant the Bruins had batted around in the inning and with two outs and the bases loaded, Carroll came up and roped a single to right. Moore was thrown out trying to score from second on the play, but Miller Jr. had already scored easily to give UCLA a six-run first inning.
UCLA dded to their lead in the fourth thanks to some fantastic base running by Carroll. After a one-out single, Carroll took off running on a two-out hit and run. Valaika executed it perfectly, hitting a single to right-center, but then Carroll stole the show. He was flying from the start, rounded second and never slowed coming around third, running through the stop sign and scoring from first on a base hit for a 7-0 UCLA lead.
An inning later, a bases loaded walk by Gallagher added a run to the Bruins' lead and in the seventh Kramer's sac fly made it 8-0, putting UCLA well on their way to victory.
All these runs were unnecessary with the way Watson was pitching, too. He showed some of the problems commanding his fastball in the first inning that hurt him at times last year, but with men on the corners and one out he got back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the inning. Once out of the first, Watson was then sensational. He commanded his fastball on both sides of the plate, used his array of offspeed pitches and pitched six wonderful innings.
Oddly, it was Berg who got hit around. The Bruins' normally untouchable reliever got beat up some. He managed to get out of the seventh inning despite surrendering three singles, but he wasn't as lucky in the eighth. A lead off double followed by two ground outs allowed the Gophers to push a run across on UCLA for the first time since Friday.
The run just got the UCLA offense going again, though. A two-out single by Brenton Allen got the Bruins' rally going and they got some help when Moore reached on a single. Chatterton then laced a double down the left field line to score two before Filia singled to put two men on for pinch hitter Christoph Bono. The redshirt freshman, who picked up his first career hit in his first collegiate at-bat a day earlier, then picked up his first career extra base hit and RBI when he pulled a double into the right field corner, scoring Chatterton. A fly ball double by Kramer then played Filia and Bono for a 14-1 lead.
While not a save situation, John Savage decided to get his freshman closer Kaprielian his first collegiate action in the ninth inning and the right-hander showed why the Bruins are so high on him. He threw hard, worked in a good slider and showed poise even in a blowout to finish off a great Sunday performance by UCLA that earned them a series win to kick off 2013.