UCLA Falls to Auburn, 11-4, in Regional Final
AUBURN, Ala. – The No. 2-seed UCLA baseball team lost to No. 1-seed Auburn, 11-4, in the NCAA Regional Final at Plainsman Park on Monday afternoon.
The Bruins concluded the season with a 40-24 overall record. With Monday's victory in the Regional Final, Auburn (40-19) advanced to the NCAA Super Regional round.
UCLA's game against Auburn began on Sunday evening after a two-hour weather delay due to lightning in the vicinity of Plainsman Park at Auburn University. The teams took the field just after 8 p.m. (local time), but thunderstorms at 10:40 p.m. prompted a suspension of the game until Monday afternoon.
Auburn led UCLA by a 9-0 margin with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning when play resumed on Monday. The Bruins scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning before adding two more runs in the eighth.
"First off with our team, you can't say more how proud we [are]," said UCLA head coach John Savage. "We win 40 games. Our pitching staff gets completely destroyed halfway through the year, and they didn't blink an eye. We went through a very difficult Pac-12 Conference and won 19 games, played very well in the Pac-12 Tournament, went to Corvallis and won two-out-of-three, and then came here to a very difficult regional."
The Tigers, playing as the designated visiting team in their home ballpark, jumped ahead 5-0 through the game's first five innings. Auburn took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, scored two more runs in the fourth and added another run in the fifth.
Sonny DiChiara led Auburn at the plate, going 3-for-4 with four RBI, one run and two walks. Brooks Carlson went 2-for-5 with one double, two RBI and one run. Nate LaRue finished the game 1-for-4 with one double, three RBI, one run and one walk.
Auburn right-hander Mason Barnett (3-2) earned the victory for the Tigers. He allowed just one hit through 5.1 scoreless innings, exiting the game Sunday night due to the weather suspension. Barnett registered 10 strikeouts and walked three batters.
UCLA right-hander James Hepp (1-2) was tagged with the loss, surrendering two runs in the game's first inning as the Bruins' starting pitcher.
In Monday's resumed portion of the ballgame, right-hander Alonzo Tredwell took the mound for the Bruins in relief to open the seventh inning. He pitched scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth innings and allowed a pair of runs (one earned) in the ninth inning.
Leading 5-0 after five innings, Auburn added four runs in the top of the sixth. LaRue cleared the bases with a three-run, two-out double into the left-center field gap to help Auburn extend their margin to 9-0.
In the top of the first inning, Auburn took advantage of one leadoff hit-by-pitch, one walk, one throwing error and one base-hit to plate two runs. The Tigers' two-run fourth inning included a two-run single up the middle by DiChiara, sending home LaRue and Mike Bello.
Brody Moore belted a solo home run to open the fifth inning, extending Auburn's advantage to 5-0.
UCLA's two-run seventh inning included a leadoff walk by Kyle Karros, a single by Daylen Reyes, a sacrifice fly by Carson Yates and a two-out run-scoring single by Darius Perry.
The Bruins reduced Auburn's advantage to 9-4 in the eighth inning. Jack Holman belted a pinch-hit home run to right field on the first pitch of his at-bat. Karros later reached on a fielder's choice and scored after consecutive singles by Reyes and Yates.
"In terms of our team, I can't tell you how good we feel about the future," said Savage. "We have a lot of really, really good young players and the future is certainly very bright."