No. 19 UCLA Baseball Sweeps Series Against Nebraska With 5-4 Victory
March 6, 2010
LOS ANGELES - A bases-loaded sacrifice fly by second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla allowed third baseman Dean Espy to tag up and score the winning run as the No. 19 UCLA baseball team downed Nebraska, 5-4, to sweep the series on Saturday afternoon at Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
With the victory, UCLA improved its season record to 9-0, the Bruins' best start in the modern era (post-1955). UCLA opened the 1978 season with an 8-0 mark before dropping its first game.
Left-hander Rob Rasmussen recorded 10 strikeouts in five innings as the Bruins starter, limiting Nebraska (3-7) to one unearned run and three hits. In all, five Bruin pitchers combined to strike out 19 batters through nine innings.
Right-hander Dan Klein (1-0) picked up the victory, scattering two hits in 1.2 innings. Nebraska's Casey Hauptman (0-2) absorbed the loss in relief, surrendering one unearned run and seven hits through 6.1 innings.
At the plate, Espy proved to be the difference, going 3-for-4 with one homer, three RBI and two runs. The sophomore from Mesa, Ariz., belted a three-run homer for the Bruins in the second inning and followed with the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth. First baseman Justin Uribe went 3-for-4 and designated hitter Blair Dunlap went 2-for-4 with one RBI.
Nebraska was led offensively by designated hitter Adam Bailey's 3-for-5, two-RBI effort. Second baseman Kale Kiser went 2-for-4 with two runs.
The visiting Huskers claimed an early 1-0 led with one unearned run in the top of the second before UCLA answered with four runs in the bottom of the frame. The Bruins' two-out rally in the second inning began with a single by right fielder Brett Krill and a full-count walk drawn by shortstop Niko Gallego. On the sixth pitch of his at-bat, Espy clubbed a three-run homer to left field, handing UCLA a 3-1 lead. A four-pitch walk by catcher Steve Rodriguez was followed by a single to left field by center fielder Beau Amaral. Dunlap lined a run-scoring single to center, pushing the Bruins ahead by a 4-1 count.
Nebraska tied the contest, 4-4, with three runs in the eighth. The Huskers loaded the bases with nobody out before UCLA's bullpen struck out two consecutive batters. With two outs, left fielder Boomer Collins reached on an RBI-single to shortstop to send home Kiser, and Bailey followed with a two-run single to right field, plating pinch-hitter Andrew Tolentino and shortstop Kyle Bubak.
In the ninth inning, Espy led off the frame with a single to center field. Rodriguez was safe at first on a sacrifice bunt, mishandled by Nebraska pitcher Jordan Roualdes. Amaral's sacrifice bunt pushed each runner over one base before Rahmatulla connected on the first offering he saw from Mike Nesseth for a sacrifice fly to center field.
UCLA returns to the diamond to host UC Riverside on Tuesday, March 9. Game time at Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium is 6 p.m.
Game Notes: UCLA has never before opened a season 9-0 in the modern era (post-1955) - the Bruins have eclipsed their previous-best 8-0 start from 1978...UCLA's bullpen surrendered its first earned run of the season in Saturday's game - the Bruins' bullpen had tossed 26.2 innings without giving up any earned runs...six UCLA hitters have posted a batting average higher than .400 (at least 17 at-bats)...the pitching staff has logged 119 strikeouts in 81.0 innings, averaging 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings...the Bruins batted .379 in three wins against Nebraska this weekend, totaling seven doubles, one triple and five home runs...the pitching staff posted a 1.67 ERA and .202 opponent batting average in three wins over Nebraska.