The UCLA baseball team was dealt a devastating blow on Monday night, when it was discovered that starting second baseman and three-hole hitter Tyler Rahmatulla suffered a broken right wrist and would be lost for the College World Series, which begins for the Bruins at 4 p.m. Saturday against Florida at Rosenblatt Stadium.
“I found out about it yesterday afternoon,” UCLA head coach John Savage said on Tuesday. “It was bothering him, but I really didn’t think it was much, to be quite honest. They X-rayed it, found out it was a broken wrist.”
Rahmatulla injured the wrist during the team’s post-game celebration following an 8-1 win over Cal State Fullerton in the deciding game of the Los Angeles Super Regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Sunday night.
Ecstasy to agony: Rahmatulla was 5-for-14 in the super regional with four RBIs and two runs, including a two-run home run on Saturday night that put the Bruins up 7-6 in the top of the ninth inning.
“I just feel terrible for Tyler,” Savage said of Rahmatulla, who was batting .328 with a team-leading 52 runs for the season. “I know the team feels really bad for him. We had yesterday off, we’ll practice here in a bit and let everyone know it’s another setback to deal with. We’ll deal with it. We’ll handle it.”
This isn’t the first time UCLA has been chomped, chewed and spit out by the injury bug.
The Bruins lost freshman outfielder Cody Keefer earlier this season to a leg injury after 45 games, but the loss of Rahmatulla cannot be understated.
Defensively, the Bruins should be fine, with Savage throwing out several options: shift Cody Regis from third base to second and slide Dean Espy to third or move Trevor Brown or Adrian Williams into the starting lineup.
But offensively, Rahmatulla leaves a gaping hole in the third spot, where he’s hit in 61 of 62 games.
“We have options, but Tyler has hit third in 61 games,” Savage said. “Who’s gonna hit third? That’s the bigger question. Offensively, we’ll have to make some adjustments and put some people in. We were shocked. We have to have a day at least to get to it.”