Bruin baseball dominates Gators in Omaha

By Ryan Eshoff

The UCLA baseball team played its first College World Series game against a nighttime backdrop of storm clouds and lightning bolts.

It was an appropriate environment considering how Trevor Bauer rained on Florida’s parade in UCLA’s 11-3 victory.

The sophomore starting pitcher gave up a pair of runs in the first inning, but found his groove as the game progressed. He ended up striking out 11 in seven strong innings to help No. 6 UCLA (49-14) move ahead in the winner’s bracket.

The win means the Bruins will next play TCU (52-12) – which beat Florida State on Saturday – today. The winner of that game earns a trip to the bracket’s final game.

Bauer was backed by a new-look Bruins lineup that had to make up for the loss of second baseman and three-hole hitter Tyler Rahmatulla. Shortstop Niko Gallego was moved up to the leadoff spot, an adjustment that paid off extravagantly as the junior reached base five times, scored a pair of runs and stole a base.

UCLA got one run in the first but left two men on base. It appeared that failure to come through had cost the Bruins, after the Gators (47-16) scored twice that same inning to take back the early lead.

But after a scoreless second inning, it was all UCLA the rest of the way. The Bruins scored at least one run in every inning after the second, while Bauer and Erik Goeddel combined to give up just one more run, a solo homer by Florida’s Josh Adams.

After Gallego, UCLA got contributions from up and down their lineup. Third baseman Dean Espy and catcher Steve Rodriguez each drove in a pair of runs. Rodriguez also scored twice, as did first baseman Justin Uribe.

But the story of the night was Bauer, who overcame early butterflies to dominate the rest of the game. A somewhat-controversial decision to start Bauer instead of Gerrit Cole in the opener paid off for coach John Savage. For one night, at least, things were sunny for UCLA in Omaha.

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