When UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer had finished off an impressive 3-1 victory over Fresno State, eliminating the Bulldogs from the NCAA regional Saturday, it seemed clear that the best chance to get to Bauer was before the game started.
Bulldogs’ Coach Mike Batesole decided to have a serious discussion with home plate umpire Josh Scheipis. “We were just cleaning up a few ground rules from the other day,” Batesole said afterward.
Truth be told -- and UCLA catcher Steve Rodriquez went with the truth -- Batesole was complaining about Bauer’s well-worn and faded cap.
“He said it was white and that made it illegal,” Rodriguez said. “The ump said it was team issue.”
Ground rules established, Bauer (13-2) struck out four of the first six batters and 14 in the game. It gave Bauer 203 strikeouts this season, breaking by one Mark Prior’s Pacific 10 Conference single-season record and had moved into second on the conference’s career strikeouts list behind Tim Linecum.
“We live another day,” UCLA Coach John Savage said in big-picture reference to the victory.
The Bruins, coming off a 3-0 loss to San Francisco on Friday, were facing elimination. They needed every bit of Bauer’s performance as UCLA batters were once again more slumber than lumber (or metal).
The Bruins stranded 14 runners and were two for 11 with eight runners in scoring position.
“It’s very frustrating,” Savage said. “But that’s kind of been our style.”
Bauer’s style has been to cover up for those shortcomings. He wasn’t much different Saturday. “It was just Trevor being Trevor,” Savage said.
Bauer gave up only five hits and finished strong, striking out the side in the seventh and eighth innings. He threw 133 pitches for his ninth consecutive complete game. About the only stress the Bulldogs seemed to cause him came from hunger pains at the end.
“I’m pretty drained and need to get something to eat," Bauer said.
Photo: Trevor Bauer. Credit: Don Liebig / UCLA Photography