The UCLA Bruins battled the Florida Gators in the second game of the College World Series. UCLA entered the game with a 48-14 record while Florida was 47-16. The Bruins would jump on Florida starting pitcher Alex Panteliodis in the first inning with Dean Espy driving in Niko Gallego from third. The inning could have been bigger if UCLA would have executed a safety squeeze as Cody Regis bunted the ball right back to Panteliodis and Beau Amaral was thrown out as he broke to the plate. Florida would get out of the inning by striking out Chris Giovinazzo.
Florida would get into the act right away in the bottom of the first inning by getting a two out two run RBI single by Brian Johnson through the shortstop and third baseman hole to give the Gators the early 2-1 lead. The inning could have been bigger if a Mike Zunino line drive wasn’t caught by Beau Amaral who made a diving catch to his right for the final out of the inning.
The game would remain 2-1 in favor of Florida until the top of the third inning when Niko Gallego and Beau Amaral got back to back singles to put runners on first and second. They then executed a double steal to move the runners up a base. Blair Dunlap hit a routine grounder to third baseman Austin Maddox but the ball got under his glove allowing Gallego to score from third and Amaral to move up to third to tie the game at 2. Dean Espy was at bat when Alex Panteliodis uncorked a wild pitch to allow Amaral to score from third and Dunlap to move up to second base. The error would give the Bruins the 3-2 lead. Dunlap then came around on a Cody Regis single back through the box to give UCLA the 4-2 lead.
The offense wouldn’t stop for UCLA as Steve Rodriguez got a one out walk which was followed by a double from Niko Gallego into the left center field gap to get runners on at second and third. Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan would make the trek out to the mound to lift Panteliodis after 3.1 innings giving up five runs (four earned) while walking a batter and striking out two. They decided to Steven Rodriguez to try to get out of the jam. Florida’s Rodriguez would throw a pitch that got away from Zunino to allow UCLA’s Steve Rodriguez to score and give the Bruins the 5-2 lead. UF’s Steven Rodriguez would eventually walk Beau Amaral and hit Blair Dunlap to load the bases. Dean Espy struck out swinging with the bases loaded for the second out of the inning. Cody Regis ended the threat by striking out swinging on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded.
Florida then bounced back in the bottom of the fourth with a one out solo homer from Josh Adams that cut the UCLA lead down to 5-3. UCLA then came back with two runs in the top of the fifth inning as they scored on a Steve Rodriguez single to center to expand the UCLA lead to 7-3.
UCLA continued to put runners on base in the sixth inning with Dean Espy getting an infield single before moving up to second on a stolen base. Cody Regis would move the runner up to third on a ground out. Espy would eventually score on a wild pitch to expand the UCLA lead to 8-3. UCLA would add another run in the top of the seventh with a single down the right field line by Beau Amaral to put the Bruins up 9-3. UCLA would score another run on a Brett Krill single up the middle in the eighth to make the margin 10-3.
Dean Espy would tack on another run in the ninth inning with a single through the right side to put UCLA up 11-3 as the Gators would make no noise in the bottom of the ninth. UCLA won the game with ease 11-3.
Coach Savage stated the following about the win:
Obviously the team is very excited. We obviously have been playing good baseball. We were battle tested at the end of the season, and I think you saw that tonight.
We got off to a rough start. They got the two runs early. We were scuffling on defense a little bit. New guys in some new spots, and I think you could see that. The first three innings, I think we were a little I wouldn’t call it nervous, I think probably overexcited. And then we settled down. I thought Trevor would do that.
And we had 15 singles out of 18 hits. We pecked away at them. We didn’t have a home run all night, but it was a typical game offensively for us in terms of we used the middle field. We had a bunch of singles. We had some stolen bases.
We kept coming, we had two outs, nobody on. We scored a run. And I think we wore their starting pitcher down a little bit. And then we got to their bullpen. So we know we haven’t done anything yet in terms of this tournament. I told the team that, but it was a good way to start the tournament.
Coach Kevin O’Sullivan stated the following about the loss:
I think all the credit needs to go to UCLA. They were outstanding on the mound. Outstanding at the plate. They battled all day long. Got 18 hits. I don’t know how many were two strikes. We could not just manage to get the lead‑off hitter the majority of the time.
Anytime you scored every inning but one, just felt like we were struggling to get from ‑‑ struggled to play from behind every inning it seemed like. The credit goes to them. They played really, really well, and we’ll need to bounce back on Monday.