UCLA lost to Pac-12 rival Arizona, 4-0, in a winners bracket game at the College World Series on Sunday night in Omaha. Here's a quick look at the game:
OVERVIEW: Arizona pitcher Konner Wade turned in a dominant outing by pitching a five-hitter with four strikeouts and no walks. He retired 14 consecutive batters to start the game and Chris Keck's pinch-hit single with one out in the eighth was the only hit Wade allowed with less than two out. Wade erased Keck one pitch later on an inning-ending double play.
The Wildcats (45-17) did all of their offensive damage in the fourth inning against UCLA starter Nick Vander Tuig (10-4) by stringing together five consecutive one-out hits that accounted for all four runs. A two-run single by Seth Mejias and a two-run double by Bobby Brown were the key blows.
After that, the story was Wade, who needed 109 pitches to get through his fifth complete game of the season. Earlier this season, Wade had given up 10 hits and six runs in a 15-3 loss to UCLA, but on Sunday only two runners advanced past first base.
Wade was in absolute control of the strike zone with a sinking two-seam fastball and threw strikes on 72 of his 109 pitches. He threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 31 batters he faced and he set the tone early by throwing strikes on 20 of his first 26 pitches.
The loss ends a 10-game win streak for UCLA (48-15), who last lost on May 20 at California. Vander Tuig hadn't lost a decision since a 3-0 loss April 21 at Oregon State, which was the only other game this season in which UCLA was shut out.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins finally appeared to be figuring out Wade when they strung together three consecutive two-out hits in the bottom of the fifth and loaded the bases. UCLA came up empty, however as second baseman Kevin Williams went up swinging at the first pitch and flew out to left field. UCLA didn't threaten again.
UCLA STAR OF THE GAME: Except for the fourth inning, Vander Tuig was dominant. He was perfect through three innings and went 6 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and a walk with eight strikeouts. Five of those six hits came in the fateful fourth inning, when Vander Tuig left too many pitches in the fat part of the plate.
He came back strong, however, and struck out four batters in the fifth and sixth innings. He kept UCLA in the game, but got no help from the offense.
STAT OF THE GAME: The top five hitters in UCLA's lineup combined to go 1-for-19 (.052) in the game. Cody Keefer's two-out single in the sixth was the only hit among those five players, all of whom were selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
Leadoff hitter Beau Amaral, the table setter, led off innings by making an out three times and grounded into a double play to end the eighth in his other at-bat.
WHAT IT MEANS: UCLA now must travel the long road in order to make a return trip to the national championship series. Beginning with an elimination game Tuesday at 5 p.m. PT against Florida State, the Bruins have to win three games over a four-day stretch without losing to win their bracket.
If they win Tuesday, it will set up a rematch against Arizona on Thursday. A win in that game would mean the teams would meet again in a bracket championship game Friday. A loss in any of those games and UCLA’s season would be over. It’s clearly not ideal to play that many games in a week, as it puts additional strain on the pitching staff.
-- Peter Yoon