LOS ANGELES — A few days before the postseason, UCLA coach John Savage wondered how many fans would pack Jackie Robinson Stadium for the team’s fourth straight hosted regional. Despite two trips to Omaha in the last three seasons, Bruins baseball is hardly the campus’ hottest draw.
Some extra buzz couldn’t hurt.
On Saturday evening, the noise came. The Bruins kickstarted the crowd of 1,749 with an impressive turnaround, spoiling Cal Poly’s no-hit bid with a 6-4 win. UCLA advanced to Sunday’s 6 p.m. tilt against either the Mustangs or San Diego, needing just one more win to reach a Super Regional.
The transformation was palpable. After five feeble innings — no hits, one walk, a 4-0 deficit — the Bruins battered freshman lefty Matt Imhof and sent him to the dugout. First baseman Pat Gallagher led with a drought-ending double that pumped life into the stands, sparking applause and a “Let’s go, Bruins!” chant.
The flame, however small, was lit. UCLA kept stoking it: a single and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases, a sac fly for the team’s first run.
The fire came soon. Right fielder Eric Filia singled up the middle to again put three Bruins on. Two at-bats later, Kevin Williams knocked the ball high into right field — a routine pop-up that turned into a base-clearing triple as right fielder Nick Torres lost it in the lights. Tie game. Continue reading