Cole boils the Frogs

OMAHA, Neb. – The disparity was striking.
UCLA’s lineup entering Monday’s College World Series matchup with TCU had 268 RBIs.
The Horned Frogs had 418. The Bruins had 43 home runs; TCU had 84. Batting average? UCLA .312, Frogs .347.

Yes, the disparity was striking.

Only on Monday, the disparity was striking out.
UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole – or is it Kole? – toasted TCU over eight innings, striking out 13 while allowing five hits, as the Bruins won 6-3 in front of 23,345 at Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium.

The UCLA sophomore was weathered early – throwing 30 pitches through two innings and 42 through three – but he was dealing.

Cole had four strikeouts through three, but took it to another level in the middle innings, striking out five in the fourth, fifth and sixth.

“He’s one of the best in the country,” TCU shortstop Taylor Featherston said. “He showed that tonight. He threw all pitches for strikes and kept us off-balance all night. We didn’t barrel up as many balls as we could.”

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UCLA lineup changes against TCU

John Savage and the Bruins have mixed things up a little bit for tonight’s College World Series matchup with TCU:

Niko Gallego, who had four hits leading off against Florida, will bat second, with Beau Amaral moving up to first. Blair Dunlap stays in the third spot, Justin Uribe moves seventh to cleanup, Cody Regis stays fifth, Dean Espy drops sixth, Jeff Gelalich comes back in at right field for Brett Krill, followed by Chris Giovinazzo and Steve Rodriguez to finish things off.

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Moore, Ayers on Nagurski Watch List

From UCLA:

pair of Bruin football standouts, junior linebacker Akeem Ayers and junior safety Rahim Moore, appear on the 2010 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List which features the best of the upcoming season’s defensive players. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded annually to the nation’s best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte,NC Touchdown Club.

Ayers, a full-time starter for the first time last season, led the Bruins with four forced fumbles and was second on the squad with 6.0 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. He tied a UCLA season record with two touchdowns on interceptions (Oregon / Temple) and scored three defensive touchdowns in all (one fumble return – ASU).

Moore, who was named to several All-American teams, led the nation in 2009 with 10 interceptions, one shy of the school record and the most by an FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) player since 2003. His career total of 13 interceptions is tied for seventh on the UCLA all-time list. Moore’s interception average of 0.77 also led the nation. He ranked second in the nation in passes defensed (1.31).

The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on November 18.The annual Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be on Dec. 6 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.

The UCLA football team will open the 2010 season on Sept. 4 at Kansas State. Stanford visits the Rose Bowl on Sept. 11 in the Bruin home opener.

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Weekly Q&A

Hey guys,

Fire away with questions for this week’s Q&A. Please don’t post new questions on the answers section, because I don’t always check the comments. Save them for next week.

I’ll finish off last week’s leftover questions shortly…

Thanks
Jon

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Savage’s gamble pays off

OMAHA, Neb. – John Savage had to be kicking himself.

He gambled on his rotation in UCLA’s opening game of the College World Series against the Florida Gators and it exploded in his face.

Trevor Bauer, starting instead of Gerrit Cole, was shaky, nervous and flustered. He looked frazzled, his mind a cluttered mess, the hot sun pounding every pore, his sweat sweating.

For one at-bat.

Bauer walked the first Florida batter, allowed two first-inning runs, and then settled down to shut down the Gators, 11-3, in front of 23,271.

The Hart of Santa Clarita product surrendered six hits and three runs while striking out 11 in seven innings, setting a new UCLA single-season record with 152 punchouts.

“It’s definitely tougher leading off, first game jitters, obviously playing in such a great venue here,” Bauer said. “You kind of get a game under your belt and you feel more relaxed, you’ve kinda gone through it once. For me, it was just another game, trying to execute pitches, go one at a time, and let the results be what they are.”

While Bauer was increasingly stable, Florida’s pitchers grew more erratic with time. The Gators allowed 18 hits, hit four UCLA batters and committed four wild pitches while facing 51 batters. Starting pitcher Alex Panteliodis was the primary culprit, allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits in 3 1/3 innings, exiting after just 61 total pitches.

“We pecked away at them,” Savage said. “We didn’t have a home run all night, but it was a typical game offensively for us in terms of (using) the middle of the field. We kept coming – we had two outs, nobody on, and we scored a run. I think we wore their starting pitcher down a little bit, and then we got to their bullpen.”

It was a balanced attack by the UCLA offense – five Bruins had multi-hit games and nine batters had hits, as the team scored runs in all but the second inning. Leadoff man Niko Gallego led the way with four hits and two runs, but catcher Steve Rodriguez’s two hits, two runs and two RBIs out of the nine-hole were equally impressive.

A tell-tale sign of domination: UCLA left 13 runners on base and still scored 11 runs, its highest total in five College World Series games, and its first CWS win in program history.

“Going into it, we had an approach of taking the fastball away and staying with it up the middle, the middle to right side of the field,” Gallego said. “I think we just saw the ball well. (Panteliodis) is a great pitcher, and we knew he was a great pitcher, and we just tried to battle him.”

With the win, the Bruins advance to face Texas Christian, which dismantled Florida State, 8-1, in the early game on Saturday. Cole will get his chance against the Horned Frogs on Monday, with the winner waiting until Friday for the chance to advance to the CWS championship series.

“It was a tough decision,” Savage said of going with Bauer. “Gerrit has started Friday all season long, and that’s the one thing: We’ve been very consistent, we’ve been very disciplined on the pitching side of it. We went with the hunch, went with the matchup. It could have backfired. Trevor upheld his end of the deal.”

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Rahmatulla hurts but helps (and much much more!)

OMAHA, Neb. – This hurts Tyler Rahmatulla.
Not his right wrist, broken during UCLA’s postgame celebration following its 8-1 win over Cal State Fullerton last Sunday in the NCAA Super Regionals at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

What really hurts, what stabs Rahmatulla to the very core, is his heart.

Aching, breaking.

“I was heartbroken for him,” UCLA head coach John Savage said. “The guy was such a big part of our team, started 61 games and hit third all year on a World Series team. He knows he still has opportunities to come back as a junior and senior, and we talked about that one-on-one. Rammy’s with us with every pitch.”

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UCLA rolling through Gators

The Bruins lead Florida 9-3 through 7.5 innings, pounding 13 hits and capitalizing on a handful of Gator miscues. Trevor Bauer continues to deal, striking out eight so far, while tying the team’s single-season strikeout record. He should clinch it this inning.

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Follow along

Hey guys,

To stay connected with up-to-the-minute updates during the UCLA’s run in Omaha, follow me on Twitter HEREand on the Inside UCLA fan page HERE. Baseball updates are much quicker there than here, but I’ll try for sporadic posts during the games, too.

Also, here’s a link to my John Savage feature today: Omaha Stakes

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