LOS ANGELES - UCLA starting pitcher Trevor Bauer pitched an outstanding eight innings, while the top-seeded Bruins launched three homers and held off a late LSU rally to top the second-seeded Tigers, 6-3, in the second round of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional Saturday night in Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Tigers (41-21) will face UC Irvine in an elimination game Sunday at 2 p.m. PT in Jackie Robinson Stadium. The winner of that game will face UCLA (45-13) in the championship game of the regional at 6 p.m. PT Sunday. An "if necessary" game will be held on Monday at 6 p.m. should UCLA lose Sunday evening. LSU will be the visitors against UC Irvine Sunday.
Bauer (10-3) was marvelous for UCLA as the right-hander tossed eight innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts. LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo (5-3) was charged with the loss after allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings with four walks and 10 strikeouts.
"Their starting pitcher was as good as we've faced this season," LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. "We've faced some good pitchers this year, but that kid was something special. I'm proud of the guys at the end of the game; they just didn't quit. Hopefully we come out tomorrow and play nine good innings and hopefully have a second game after."
The Tigers rallied in the bottom of the ninth when Micah Gibbs scored from second on a double by Austin Nola off the wall in left. Center fielder Leon Landry followed with a double to deep center to cut the deficit to 6-2.
LSU made the score 6-3 after Landry advanced to third on a groundout by Alex Edward and scored on a sacrifice fly to deep center by Matt Gaudet. Right-hander Dan Klein relieved Bauer before Edward's groundout and he forced Mason Katz to pop out to second to end the game and seal the 6-3 win for UCLA.
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when third baseman Cody Regis lifted a solo homer off Ranaudo to lead off the inning. The homer was Regis' fifth of the season.
In the third, UCLA loaded the bases with two outs when Regis drew a walk to plate a run and increase the Bruins' lead to 2-0. Ranaudo struck out the next batter, Chris Giovinazzo with the bases loaded to end the UCLA rally in the third.
UCLA went up 3-0 in the fourth when left fielder Jeff Gelalich homered to lead off the inning. The homer was Gelalich's first of the season. The Bruins increased their lead to 4-0 in the sixth when center fielder Beau Amaral ripped a two-out RBI double over Katz's head in left.
Freshman right-hander Jordan Rittiner came on in relief of Ranaudo to start the seventh and gave up a solo homer to pinch hitter Dean Espy, which increased UCLA's lead to 5-0. In the ninth, Espy lined a two-out RBI single through the left side to make the score 6-0.
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri
"UCLA's starting pitcher was outstanding, as good as we had faced all year, and we had faced some good pitchers, but that kid was really something special. Anytime you can throw four pitches for strikes like he did, and all four pitches were really plus, plus pitches ... he threw hard, he had a really good curveball and slider, and then he threw that changeup whenever he wanted to for a strike. Our kids battled hard. We were up against a great challenge there."
"The first three innings we got our leadoff hitter on base, and in the first inning I thought he ran us out of the inning when they pitched out on the first pitch of the second batter of the game. That kind of shocked me. I felt bad about that. The next two innings we got the leadoff hitter on base and couldn't get him around. It's understandable - the kid was really a great challenge for our hitters. I thought Anthony (Ranaudo) competed really hard today. His command was not great, he fell behind on some hitters, and they teed off on a couple of fastballs when he fell behind on the count. But a kid goes six innings and gives up two solo home runs and a bases loaded walk and one RBI hit - I think that's a pretty good performance. Usually that's good enough to win, but tonight it wasn't because we ran up against such a great pitcher."
"I was really proud of the kids; they just didn't quit at the end, and hopefully tomorrow they'll come out and play nine good innings and hopefully have a second game after that."
LSU First Baseman Blake Dean
(On Trevor Bauer): "From the very first inning, we got a few guys on, and the guy was pretty shut-down. He didn't have any set pitches that he threw on certain counts; I think he threw anything he wanted to at any count tonight. As a hitter it makes it difficult on you and keeps you off-balance, and you don't know what to look for at certain counts. You're looking for one pitch and he gives you the other. Tip your hat to the guy - he was unbelievable tonight."
LSU Pitcher Anthony Ranaudo
(On his command tonight): "Like Coach said, I didn't have very good command tonight. I fell behind some guys, and unfortunately, I didn't locate those fastballs as well as I could tonight. When you face a team like UCLA, with those kind of hitters and this kind of atmosphere, they're going to hurt you with those mistakes. They took advantage of the pitches that I did miss, and when your command is not well, and I wasn't throwing my changeup for strikes, they kind of zoned in on two pitches, which were the two fastballs that they hit out of the park, and they did well against me."
UCLA head coach John Savage
"Well it was a good ball game. Trevor (Bauer) was outstanding tonight. He really did a nice job going pitch-to-pitch. He pitched out of some problems early in the game. We had them on the ropes, we made some big pitches, had a couple of strikeouts to end some innings. I thought (Anthony) Ranaudo pitched well, did his job. We tried to run the pitch count up on him a little bit and we got through six innings and he struck 10 guys. It was just two real good pitchers going at each other. Thankfully we outlasted him, I guess you could say. It was a good win for UCLA, but we do know that this thing is far from over, and we got the defending national champs still alive in the tournament, and we've got a very good UC Irvine team. We know we haven't accomplished anything. We're in a good place, but that's about it so we need to make sure we come out tomorrow and play well."
(On LSU's 9th inning and the possibility of playing them tomorrow): "We said no one is going to quit at this stage of the season. That's why everybody's still playing; guys don't quit. They play nine innings, and LSU did that tonight. We have a ton of confidence in our guys and in our defense and in our pitching, but they came back, and they didn't give up. It wasn't over till it's over."
UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer
"At different points in the game, different stuff was working. It was kind of a battle for me. I just went out there, tried to do my best and tried to give my team a chance to win with what I had."
(On what the atmosphere was like after getting out of a jam in the 5th): "Obviously, the LSU fans are great, and they really support their teams, so any time they had people on, it was an electric atmosphere. I get excited about the game of baseball, so when I'm able to pitch out of problems like that, make a big pitch or do something to keep my team in it, it fires me up."
UCLA third baseman Cody Regis
(On facing Anthony Ranaudo): "We knew he was going to come after us with that fastball, and basically we were just sitting dead red on that fastball and trying to do what we do with it. Anytime you face good pitching like that, top-line pitching, our plan is just to wear him down, and that's what we tried to do."