Fullerton Regional: UCLA vs Fullerton Regional Final (Game 1)

Fullerton 11  UCLA 8

Gavin Brooks started off the season as UCLA’s #1 starter, and the Bruins thought he could rekindle some of last year’s magic.  They we’re wrong, and after using up more of their bullpen than they wanted in this loss to Fullerton, the Bruins are forced into an elimination game in Fullerton, where their 2007 season ended in the Super Regionals.

The Titans offense was stifled for most of their 4-1 victory over Virginia earlier in the day by reliever Matt Packer, but they started a two out rally in the first after Erik Komatsu reached first on a hit by pitch. Komatsu was able to advance to third after Bruin lefty Gavin Brooks missed his first baseman on a pickoff throw. After a four pitch walk to Jared Clark, DH Brian Wilson singled to right, scoring Komatsu and advancing Clark into scoring position. The Titans loaded the bases on a walk to Gary Brown and looked to capitalize, but Joel Weeks lined a 2-2 pitch right to Brandon Crawford to end the inning on a drive that sounded like it broke Weeks’ bat. Brooks threw 32 pitches in the first inning, limiting his longevity.

UCLA answered in the second. Brandon Crawford led off with a walk and got into scoring position by advancing on a pitch that was mishandled by catcher Dustin Garneau. Crawford advanced to third with one out when Friday’s starter Tim Murphy grounded out to second. Brady Dolan looked to drive in Crawford, but didn’t need to as a wild pitch eluded Dustin Garneau, allowing Crawford to score easily. Dolan singled to right, prompting a mound visit from head coach Dave Serrano for his pitcher and infield to compose themselves. A Dunlap infield single put a runner in scoring position for Jermaine Curtis, who hit a high chopper up the middle. Brady Dolan looked to head home from second but was stopped by the his third base coach as Christian Colon was able to stop the ball from reaching center field. The play saved a run as Mickey Weisser struck out swinging to end the threat, leaving the bases loaded.

Garneau reached base to lead off the third after home plate umpire Gus Rodriguez ruled catcher interference after Ryan Babineau’s mitt hit Garneau’s bat on a foul ball swing. This is when Bruin starter Gavin Brooks began to lose all control, throwing a wild pitch to Joe Scott that hit the back netting, which allowed Garneau to advance to second. After a mound visit from John Savage, Brooks continued to be wild, hitting the top of Joe Scott’s foot with a pitch. Fellhauer perfectly executed a sacrifice bunt to advance Garneau and Scott. SS Christian Colon was then walked by an out of control Brooks, which prompted Savage again to emerge from the dugout, calling for LHP Matt Drummond to try and clean up the mess that Brooks left him. Drummond didn’t do much to help the cause by balking on his first pitch. Komatsu then hit a chopper up the middle that scored Scott and Colon. The reliever would then give up a run of his own as Jared Clark doubled into the left center gap, scoring Komatsu from first, but would get out of it by retiring Brian Wilson and Gary Brown.

UCLA answered in the top of the fourth inning as Brady Dolan roped a 1-1 pitch over the Fullerton South Rotary sign in left field for his second homerun of the season. That was all UCLA could muster in the inning though as Blair Dunlap and Jermaine Curtis were both sent down on strikes, muttering under their breaths during the at bats as Titan starter Daniel Renken continued to confuse the Bruin hitters with his breaking ball. Carrithers sent a deep flyball to center for out number 3.

Jared Clark added another RBI in the Bottom of the 4th for the Titans when with two outs and Josh Fellhauer on second, he hit a fly ball to shallow right that Alden Carrithers lost in the lights. Clark was awarded a double and the Titans loaded the bases, but 3B Joel Weeks failed to come through and missed an opportunity to extend the lead even further. Carrithers made up for his questionable fielding by doubling to left-center to lead off the top of the 5th. Brandon Crawford continued his domination of the Titan pitching staff with a screaming line drive triple that barely eluded Josh Fellhauer’s glove in center and rolled to the wall. Fellhauer took a very bad angle on the ball, sprinting forward and to his right when he could have just as easily taken a few steps to his right to make the play. Ryan Babineau lined a single to right center to score Crawford. Michael Morrison came into the game to relieve Renken, and got out of the inning with ease, but the damage was done as the lead was cut in half to 6 to 4.

Fullerton added another run in the bottom of the 5th on a Fellhauer triple, but UCLA answered the next inning on a Casey Hearther solo homerun that is probably still rolling down Associated Road.  That homerun should have been a 2-run shot, but Alden Carrithers was caught off of first on a ball in the dirt and ended up being tagged out in a run down by Jared Clark.

There wasn’t much more action until the bottom of the 8th inning, when Fullerton ended any thought of UCLA getting back into this game by putting 4 on the board, including a Joel Weeks bases clearing double, making the game 11-5.

Brandon Crawford belted his second homerun of the regional, a 2 run job, in the top of the 9th off of Adam Jorgenson to put a bit of life back into the Bruins, but coming back from a six run deficit against the Titans was simply not going to happen tonight, even though the Bruins did make it interesting before falling 11-8.