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UCLA baseball rallies to beat Cal Poly

Three SCV products involved in game

Posted: June 1, 2013 11:47 p.m.
Updated: June 1, 2013 11:47 p.m.

UCLA pitcher David Berg, left, and catcher Shane Zeile, a Valencia graduate, celebrate after defeating Cal Poly on Saturday in Los Angeles.

 

LOS ANGELES — With the sun setting and the lights brightening, a routine fly ball to left caught Cal Poly Mustangs right fielder Nick Torres by surprise in Saturday’s NCAA Los Angeles baseball regional at UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium.

With Torres on a swivel, retreating quickly, the ball ricocheted off the base of the wall, clearing the bases for a three-RBI triple off the bat of Kevin Williams to tie the score in the sixth and put the momentum squarely on the UCLA Bruins’ side in an eventual 6-4 UCLA win.

“When I hit it I thought I just got under it,” Williams said. “I looked up and I couldn’t see it and I noticed he couldn’t see it either.”

Hart graduate Pat Valaika added the final touch, an bases-loaded RBI walk in the seventh to set the final score.

It was a complete role reversal from how the game began.

Cal Poly starting pitcher Matt Imhof was in complete control for five innings, losing his no-hit bid with a lead-off single by Pat Gallagher in the sixth inning.

Things were never the same from there.

“Two storylines. They jumped on us the first three innings, they mugged us basically,” said UCLA head coach John Savage.

“The game kind of turned. We had a couple breaks, the fly ball was clearly a break. He lost the ball in the lights, that’s a tough time of night.”

The Bruins (41-17) loaded the bases in the sixth on back-to-back walks and a hit batsman.

Kevin Kramer pulled UCLA within 4-1 on a sacrifice fly before Valaika struck out to set up Williams’ fateful fly to right.

“We were concerned before that ball about the lightning. It got up above the lights and I had no idea where it was,” Torres said. “Off the bat I saw pop up, I didn’t think he hit it too well.”

Along with the former Hart Indian Valaika, the regional took on a Foothill League feel with fellow Bruin and Valencia High graduate Shane Zeile at catcher and former Viking Brian Mundell in the lineup for Cal Poly (40-18).

The victory puts the UCLA one win away from advancing to their second straight Super Regional.

The Bruins advanced to the College World Series last season before going 1-2 in the eight-team tournament.

Cal Poly drops to the loser’s bracket and will play the University of San Diego, 6-3 winners over San Diego State earlier in the day, in an elimination game at 2 p.m. today.

“We’ve done it all different ways. We’ve had heartbreaking losses and turned it around. Our goal is to make it to Monday and hopefully play three more ball games,” said Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee.

UCLA, which advanced to Saturday’s game with a 5-3 victory over San Diego State on Friday, fell behind 2-0 in the first inning.

With Bruins pitcher Nick Vander Tuig struggling with his command early, Torres brought home a run on a sacrifice fly and Jimmy Allen hit an RBI-double up the left-field line for the Mustangs.

Cal Poly added some insurance with a run in the third and fourth before UCLA staged its comeback.

Torres was 1-for-2 with two RBIs while Allen and Armendariz each added one RBI.

Mundell, who was key to the Mustangs 9-3 win over San Diego State on Friday with four RBIs, was 1-for-5 with a run scored in Saturday’s loss.

For the Bruins, Williams led the way with his three RBI triple. Kramer, Eric Filia and Valaika each notched one RBI. Zeile was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Vander Tuig finished with six innings pitched, nine hits and four earned runs allowed.

Vander Tuig struggled to keep the ball out of the dirt early on, but was helped by Zeile behind the plate.

“Shane did a great job (tonight) and I’m very thankful he bodied up those balls,” he said.

Valaika also showed off the defensive skills that earned him UCLA’s first All-Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year award this season, robbing Stewart of a leadoff base hit in the second on a ground ball that looked like it would make it up the middle.

San Diego 6, San Diego St. 3

LOS ANGELES — One way or the other, a baseball team was leaving Los Angeles and heading back to San Diego on Saturday.

They sure bided their time, but a five-run fifth inning by the San Diego Toreros ensured it wouldn’t be them heading home.

San Diego blew things up in the fifth, aided by two defensive errors, and defeated the crosstown rival San Diego State Aztecs 6-3 in an elimination game of the Los Angeles NCAA baseball regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium at UCLA.

“We were helped by a couple miscues,” said San Diego head coach Rich Hill. “But that’s college baseball.”

San Diego pitcher Dylan Covey did his part on the mound, going 7 2/3 innings with four hits and three earned runs allowed.

Michael Cederoth took the loss for SDSU, going 4 1/3 innings with two hits and three earned runs allowed.

Catcher Austin Green knocked in two runs for the Toreros, who will now face the loser of Cal Poly in another elimination game on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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