Monday, September 24

Three-win weekend opens UCLA baseball season


The big question facing the UCLA baseball team entering the 2010 season was whether the Bruins could generate enough offense to support a dynamic pitching staff that features aces Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer.

For a weekend at least, that question was put to rest.

UCLA opened its season with a three-win weekend, scoring 40 combined runs and posting victories over Southern, Bethune-Cookman and Cal State Northridge, capped by a 14-5 triumph over the Matadors on Sunday.

“We really like this offense,” coach John Savage said. “They see the ball very well at the plate, they don’t chase a whole lot, which means they’re going to wear down some starting pitchers. I don’t want to throw a party, but I think people are going to like this offense.”

Rob Rasmussen certainly did. The junior left-hander got the start Sunday but didn’t make it out of the fourth inning, departing with the Bruins trailing 4-1. However, the deficit proved to be short-lived for a UCLA offense that was scoring runs in a variety of ways throughout the weekend.

Freshman Beau Amaral went 4-for-5 and hit his first career home run, while fellow rookie Dean Espy came off the bench to belt his second homer of the weekend as the Bruins scored nine unanswered runs to blow the game open.

“I just tried to stick with my plan and what they wanted me to do,” Espy said. “Just let the results speak for themselves.”

Right-hander Erik Goeddel picked up the win in relief of Rasmussen, pitching 2.2 innings and giving up just one unearned run. Savage had nothing but praise for the redshirt sophomore, who has worked his way back from a Tommy John surgery undergone in high school.

“There’s nobody that’s worked harder than Erik Goeddel,” Savage said. “It’s a credit to his work ethic and the type of person he is today that he got the win.”

Sunday’s comeback was a far cry from Friday night’s season opener against Southern, when UCLA used a nine-run first inning to cruise to a 16-2 victory.

On Saturday, UCLA got a pair of home runs from catcher Steve Rodriguez and a strong eight-inning outing from sophomore right-hander Trevor Bauer in defeating Bethune-Cookman 10-3.

The Bruin bats remained hot throughout the weekend despite some juggling by Savage, who used a different lineup in each of the three games ““ a luxury made possible by the depth of the team’s offense.

Second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla was one of the few players who started all three games. The sophomore, who hit a three-run double Sunday and hit third in the batting order the entire weekend, noted that the team had a very simple approach at the plate.

“We’re just trying to take it one game at a time, even just one pitch at a time,” Rahmatulla said. “We’re not really looking ahead.”

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