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NCAA baseball: UCLA defeats UC Irvine, wins regional

June 6, 2010 |  9:13 pm
It’s an old baseball adage, and a repetitive one for UCLA this season . . .the best pitching wins.

That played out again Sunday night in a 6-2 victory over UC Irvine at Jackie Robinson Stadium that sent the sixth-seeded Bruins (46-13) on to next weekend’s super regional.

UCLA probably will play host to the best-of-three series; the university has put in a bid to host. But it might not matter where the Bruins play if they continue to baffle opposing batters.

A scrappy Irvine team, which eliminated LSU with a 4-3 victory earlier in the day, hung around until Cody Regis’ three-run homer in the eighth inning gave the Bruins a 6-2 lead.

UCLA batters may not like being viewed as the support staff, and they did scrap out key runs early in Sunday's game. But it is pitching that has the Bruins flirting with only the third College World Series appearance in school history, and that was evident again against Irvine.

The Anteaters (39-21) were unable to get much traction against UCLA starter Rob Rasmussen other than two lightning strikes, bases-empty home runs by Drew Hillman and Jordan Leyland .

Rasmussen has been all but unsolvable since being roughed up by Arizona State on May 2. He allowed seven runs and seven hits, three of which were home runs. Rasmussen then allowed only four runs in 26 1/3 innings over the rest of the regular season, winning three consecutive decisions.

It was more of the same against the Anteaters. Hillman homered in the second, Leyland in the fifth. Otherwise, Rasmussen (10-2) cruised along, striking out seven. The Anteaters had two on with one out following Leyland’s homer, but Rasmussen struck out Sean Madigan and Casey Stevenson to end the inning.

Erik Goeddel pitched two scoreless innings and Dan Klein one. UCLA relievers  allowed only one run in eight innings during the regional.

The Bruins’ staff is so deep that Garett Claypool, who is 7-3 with a 2.27 earned-run average as a starter, did little except sun himself this weekend. He was to be the starter if a Monday game was necessary. It wasn’t.

Irvine gutted out a victory over LSU to get to the evening game, getting six solid innings from freshman starter Evan Brock (seven strikeouts) and two innings of relief from Nick Hoover. But the Anteaters’ pitching was extended during the weekend and that became apparent against UCLA.

Starter Eric Peters, who pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief against LSU on Friday, and was less than sharp. Peters walked Regis to start the second inning and it cost him when Niko Gallegos tripled into the gap in left-center field  with two outs. An inning later, the Bruins took a 3-1 lead, with Blair Dunlap and Chris Giovinazzo driving in the runs.

--Chris Foster