UCLA defeats Creighton to advance to super regionals
LOS ANGELES – Jeff Gelalich belted two home runs, going 3-for-4 with four RBI, to lead the UCLA baseball team past Creighton, 13-5, and win the NCAA Los Angeles Regional before 1,291 at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Sunday evening.
UCLA (45-14) has advanced to the NCAA Super Regional round for the third time in the last six seasons.
The Bruins will face the winner of Monday’s College Station Regional Final between TCU and Mississippi in a best-of-three series next weekend. Game dates and site location will be announced Monday evening at 8 p.m. (PT).
Creighton (28-30) defeated New Mexico, 7-2, earlier Sunday to advance to the evening matchup against UCLA. The visiting Bluejays scored twice in the top of the first before Gelalich crushed a two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the inning, tying the score, 2-2.
“They came out and threw a punch, which I knew they would, and scored two in the first,” UCLA head coach John Savage said. “And then we got two outs and nobody on, and I think our biggest at-bat was a [Cody] Keefer walk and then Gelalich’s home run. All of a sudden it’s 2-2, to where it could have gone the other way.”
Gelalich registered his second two-home run game of the season and pushed his total to a team-leading 11 round-trippers, the highest single-season total at UCLA since Cody Decker finished with 21 in 2009.
Trevor Brown went 1-for-4 with two runs and two RBI, and Pat Valaika went 1-for-3 with two runs and two RBI.
Bruins’ starting pitcher Zack Weiss (3-2) earned the victory, allowing three runs and seven hits in five innings. Creighton’s Nick Musec (3-4) was tagged with the loss, surrendering four runs and three hits in 2.1 frames.
UCLA claimed a 7-2 cushion with a five-run third inning and added a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Bruins extended their margin with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to secure a 13-3 lead.
“I went up there not trying to do too much,” said Gelalich, who earned Most Outstanding Player honors on the All-NCAA Regional Team. “My plan was to go up there, see a pitch and put a good swing on it. I got lucky that I got enough of the ball and hit it in the right spot, and it went out.”
In UCLA’s five-run third inning, Tyler Heineman had a run-scoring groundout with runners at the corners to put the Bruins ahead, 3-2. After Keefer reached on an error and Gelalich walked, Brown lined a two-run single up the middle. Shane Zeile added a pinch-hit single through the left side of the infield.
Gelalich opened UCLA’s two-run fifth inning with a solo home run to right field. Chris Keck’s pinch-hit sacrifice fly to center field put the Bruins ahead of Creighton, 9-3.
UCLA pushed ahead, 13-3, with a four-run sixth inning. Creighton cut the Bruins’ margin to 13-5 in the top of the ninth, opening the frame with four consecutive hits off UCLA’s Scott Griggs. The Bruins ended Creighton’s ninth inning threat when Griggs recorded three straight strikeouts.
UCLA has advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals, which will begin either Friday, June 8, or Saturday, June 9. The complete NCAA Super Regional schedule, including host institutions, will be announced by the NCAA on Monday at 8 p.m. (PT).
Game Notes: UCLA has advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals for the fourth time since the NCAA established the current postseason format in 1999 … the Bruins have won 14 of their last 15 games and are currently riding a seven game winning streak … UCLA’s 45 wins is tied for the school’s second-highest single-season win total (UCLA went 45-21-1 in 1997) … Beau Amaral and Cody Regis have tied the school’s all-time record for most career postseason games (19) – Amaral and Regis share the all-time record with Blair Dunlap, who played at UCLA from 2006-2010 … UCLA outscored its opposition by a 23-6 margin in three NCAA Regional games … David Berg pitched two scoreless innings and has appeared in 19 of the team’s last 20 contests.