UCLA ousted at CWS as offense falls flat
Florida State wasn't getting anything from cleanup hitter and RBI leader Jayce Boyd at the College World Series. Boyd was 0 for 10 in Omaha, and his production, or lack thereof, contributed to the Seminoles being in an elimination game against UCLA.
It was only fitting Boyd took matters into his own hands on Tuesday night in the Seminoles' 4-1 win over UCLA, eliminating the Bruins from the College World Series.
With FSU up 2-0 in the fourth inning, Boyd stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Boyd produced — with a bunt.
With UCLA third baseman Kevin Kramer playing back, Boyd laid down the squeeze and caught the Bruins off guard. As Kramer came up to play the ball with one run already across, he overran it, allowing a hustling Devon Travis to come around and score from second base to put the Seminoles up 4-0.
When asked about the bunt, Florida State head coach Mike Martin gave all the credit to Boyd, saying it was his decision. That was just an example of all the things that went right for the Seminoles (50-16) and wrong for the Bruins (48-16) on Tuesday night.
The downward slope started early for the Bruins. Sophomore Zack Weiss (3-3) got the start for coach John Savage but was unable to get out of the first inning.
Weiss recorded just one out and walked three, including one with the bases loaded, and threw just 10 pitches before being relieved by freshman Grant Watson, who walked in a second run in the first inning.
UCLA pitchers walked eight Seminoles on Tuesday night, while the Seminoles surrendered just one base on balls.
Savage believes FSU's veterans got the better of his young pitchers.
"I credit them a lot," Savage said. "They schooled some of our younger guys in my opinion, Weiss, and Watson a little bit.
"I'm not saying in a negative way that we were (schooled), it's just that older hitters from Travis to Boyd to (James) Ramsey to (Sherman) Johnson, they kind of got the better of the younger guys, in my opinion, and that was the difference in the game."
The Bruins showed some life in the top of the sixth inning against FSU starter Scott Sitz. After the first two batters reached, Tyler Heineman was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out.
Cody Keefer stepped in and hit a line drive RBI single up the middle for the Bruins' first run. That set the table for the heart of the order. However, Sitz rose to the occasion and struck out the side. Jeff Gelalich, Trevor Brown and Pat Valaika all went down swinging during a sequence in which Sitz threw seven consecutive sliders.
"The breaking ball's pretty good. He definitely went to the breaking ball heavy with the bases loaded when he struck out the three guys," Savage said. "Florida State has always done a great job of throwing the breaking ball in any count, and tonight we saw that."
Sitz (4-3) went 6 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and one run. He struck out eight and walked just one while throwing a career-high 102 pitches.
"It was tough," Brown said of the sixth inning. "We all felt like it was going to be a big inning and we got just a little out of character and got a little too excited and weren't as patient as we should have been at the plate."
The UCLA offense that was a surprising strength for the entire season couldn't come up with hits when the Bruins needed them most. For the second consecutive game in Omaha, Savage said they looked "anxious" at the plate.
The Bruins' season ends with a trip to Omaha, a destination not many thought they would reach — including themselves, especially after losing Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer to the draft last season.
The offense was completely revamped under assistant coach Rex Peters, but a season highlighted by a re-energized offense came to a screeching halt in the final two losses of the season.
After scoring nine runs on nine hits in the CWS-opening win against Stony Brook, they managed just one run on 10 hits.
"We were on the track, and we got off the track the last two days," Savage said.