UCLA baseball drops first game of College World Series final 7-1 against ace Gamecock pitching

By Ryan Eshoff

The jerseys said “Bruins” across the front, the hats were blue with a gold B, and the blue stirrup socks were all showing. But nothing else the team did Monday night indicated that they were the UCLA Bruins.

The former first-round draft pick and ace starting pitcher wasn’t missing any of South Carolina’s bats. The typically stout defense was sloppier than a Rosenblatt Stadium Chili Cheese Fry Special. The patient, deliberate offensive attack managed just one hit through the first eight innings and had all the potency of a blade of grass.

The result? A 7-1 win for South Carolina in the first game of a best-of-three series to determine the College World Series champion.

“I told the team after the game, it wasn’t our pitching, it wasn’t our defense, it wasn’t our offense,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “It was everybody. But on the other hand, you gotta give South Carolina a ton of credit.”

The Gamecocks (53-16) did indeed dominate in every aspect of the game, and it appeared that Lady Luck was in their dugout from the outset. South Carolina scored a pair of runs in the first inning off UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, doing so on a bunt base hit, a bloop single, a check swing line drive and a routine ground ball that went right between the legs of second baseman Cody Regis. The entire rally came with two outs, and seemed to take all the life out of the Bruins (51-16).

South Carolina added a run in the second and two more in the third off Cole, who suffered through arguably one of the worst outings in his career in his biggest start. The sophomore finished the night having gone seven innings and giving up six runs, four of them earned. He yielded 11 hits and struck out two as he seemed to lack the aggressiveness and tenacity that made him one of the nation’s best pitchers during the season. Despite getting ahead on a number of hitters, Cole was often unable to finish the deal.

“They had a great approach,” Cole said. “I don’t know what the approach was, but whatever it was it worked.”

Cole’s struggles on the hill were magnified thanks to the performance of his counterpart; South Carolina’s Blake Cooper was lights-out from the get-go. UCLA didn’t get its first hit until the fifth inning. Cooper hit two batters and walked just one, and when the Bruins did make contact, it was generally hit weakly or right at a Gamecock fielder. The senior struck out 10 and was pulled after UCLA managed to load the bases with nobody out in the ninth. John Taylor came out of the bullpen to get a double-play ball that scored a run before getting a fly-ball out to end the ballgame.

“(Cooper) mixed it up well tonight, he kept us off balance,” said UCLA catcher Steve Rodriguez, who had the Bruins’ lone hit through the first eight innings. “We didn’t make enough adjustments at the plate.”

In front of a crowd predominantly adorned in garnet and black, the Gamecocks possessed all the energy in the contest.

The victory gives South Carolina an early advantage in the series, although the Bruins are far from out of it. In its most recent three-game set – against Cal State Fullerton in the Super Regionals – UCLA dropped the opener but came back and won the final two games. For that to happen in Omaha and give the baseball program its first-ever championship, a lot is going to need to happen for the Bruins. They could start by remembering who they are and how they got here.

Read more here: http://www.dailybruin.com/articles/2010/6/28/ucla-baseball-drops-first-game-college-world-serie/
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