There is a rhythm to baseball, particularly college baseball.
Week in, week out, Gerrit Cole threw on Friday, and that was it.
He owns it. Owns it like a bum owns a street corner. Owns it like a lion owns a guppy. Owns it.
So while UCLA baseball coach John Savage debated to leave his ace in the hole, he ultimately decided to stick with the rhythm and ride Gerrit Cole all the way to the second game of the Los Angeles Regional in the NCAA college baseball playoffs.
Cole limited Kent State to just five hits and UCLA’s relievers did the rest of the dirty work in a 15-1 victory over the Golden Flashes at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Friday night.
“Some people will probably second-guess after they look at the score and say ‘Oh God, you should’ve gone with Claypool,” Savage said, referring to Garett Claypool, UCLA’s dependable mid-week starter whom he considered starting. “I really think we made the right call. He threw five innings, he threw 79 pitches, and we got what we needed. You need to win games in double elimination tournaments. Our routine has been really good all season.”
Things looked a bit precarious early, as Kent State got its first two batters on base against the usually dominant Cole. While the Golden Flashes fizzled, the Bruins flourished.
UCLA scored two runs in the first inning, added five more in the third and then put Kent State away with a five-run fourth inning.
But Savage maintained that Cole set the tone with his starting pitching.
“We’ve got a ton of respect for Kent State,” Savage said. “They are as good a No. 4 seed as there is out there. Cole wanted the ball. We thought about [using another pitcher], but not for very long.”
Up next, Louisiana State, which outlasted UC Irvine, 11-10, in 11 innings earlier Friday. The Bruins will put Trevor Bauer on the mound to stop the Tigers, who won the national championship last season.