UCLA got one stellar pitching performance to avoid elimination Sunday in the NCAA tournament, but the Bruins couldn’t piece together the bullpen arms needed for a second.
After sophomore pitcher Ryan Garcia starred in UCLA’s 10-4 win over Gonzaga, the Bruins allowed a season-high 13 runs in a season-ending 13-8 loss to No. 14 Minnesota in the Minneapolis Regional.
Starting pitcher Jack Ralston, UCLA’s typical Tuesday starter, didn’t make it out of the second inning. The redshirt sophomore allowed four runs in 1-1/3 innings, including a three-run homer in the second that chased him.
Playing in their fourth game of the weekend, the Bruins (38-21) turned to six pitchers against the Gophers (44-14), and only Holden Powell, who entered in the fifth with UCLA trailing 13-6, lasted longer than two innings. The team’s saves leader pitched three shutout innings with two strikeouts.
The Bruins out-hit the Gophers 12-11 but stranded nine. UCLA overcame the early struggles with a three-run third inning, jumping ahead 5-4 on an RBI single from center fielder Daniel Amaral.
The Gophers then tagged Nick Scheidler for three runs in the third and plated six more runs during the fourth against Michael Townsend.
UCLA, which entered the postseason as the best hitting team in the Pac-12, lost for just the fourth time this year when scoring six or more runs. The Bruins were 30-4 in such games, with one win coming Sunday afternoon against the Bulldogs to avoid elimination.
Freshman Garrett Mitchell drove in a team-high three runs as Garcia pitched a career-high 7-1/3 innings while striking out nine, which tied a career high. He took a no-hitter into the seventh, but was pulled in the eighth after allowing a two-run homer to Carson Breshears. He finished with just three hits, three runs (one earned) and two walks allowed.
The offense produced 13 hits, with two each from Kevin Kendall, Chase Strumpf and Michael Toglia. Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit.
Strumpf was 8 for 19 at the plate in the regional. Mitchell, making his postseason debut, was 5 for 15 with seven RBIs, six coming Sunday.
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