NCAA baseball super regionals: UCLA tops Cal State Fullerton in extras


UCLA isn't used to having to close out a game twice, especially when their superb closer David Berg comes into slam the door. With a 0.81 ERA, .190 opposing batting average, and 20 saves, the Pac-12 Pitcher of Year had only blown only one save coming into the super regional opener at Fullerton.

On Friday, he blew his second opportunity. But just like the first time back in March at Arizona State, the Bruins found a way to pick up their star reliever and win anyway. UCLA beat Fullerton 5-3 in 10 innings to move within one win of their second consecutive trip to Omaha. Eric Filia's single through the right side, one of his four hits on the game, did the trick for the Bruins in the top half of the tenth. It reestablished a UCLA lead that Berg would not give up in his second try.

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Berg struck out Michael Lorenzen, Fullerton's most dangerous hitter (and fellow closer, drafted 38th overall by the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday) to finish another stressful frame and seal the contest for good. So ended a hard-fought battle of precise play and well-executed small ball, just the contest one would expect from two Southern California teams who blew through their respective regionals in three-game sweeps.

UCLA's Pat Gallagher delivered a clean two-out single in the fourth inning to spark the Bruins' early 2-0 lead. With ace Adam Plutko on the hill and a lethal bullpen waiting for action, the Baby Blue figured to be in control as the game hit the late innings. But star reliever James Kaprielian walked a batter to lead off the eighth before Berg came on and walked one of his own. Fullerton executed a bunt and RBI groundout perfectly before Lorenzen tied the score with a two-out infield hit.

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That set the table for Filia's dramatics in the tenth, when the Bruins' oft-maligned offense strung together three consecutive hits to ignite the game-winning two-run rally. Pat Valaika's RBI sacrifice fly bought insurance that would again put UCLA on the doorstep of Omaha.

The Bruins will turn to Nick Vander Tuig in their attempt to close out the Titans tomorrow at 7 p.m. Tune in to ESPN2 while following the Pac-12 Post for updates.

David Lombardi has covered Pac-12 baseball since 2007. He’s a play-by-play voice and on-air reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.

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