UCLA and Loyola Marymount figured to play each other sometime during the NCAA West Regional baseball tournament at Jackie Robinson Stadium, perhaps in Saturday's title game. Now, that won't happen.
They'll meet, all right, but it will be today at 11 a.m. in an elimination game because both the Bruins and the Lions were defeated in Thursday's first round. UCLA lost to Hawaii, 6-3, and Loyola Marymount was beaten by UC Santa Barbara, 11-5, in 10 innings.
UCLA seemingly had everything in its favor against Hawaii. The Bruins were playing at home, they had won seven straight games and 11 of their last 13, and their ace, Alex Sanchez, would be opposed by a relatively inexperienced sophomore named Paul Brown.
Someone forgot to tell Brown that he was overmatched. The 6-5, 220-pound left-hander who had pitched only 41 innings in his previous nine appearances, restricted UCLA to six hits and walked just one before leaving the game with one out in the ninth inning.
Three of the Bruin hits were home runs, giving them 102 for the season, but they came with the bases empty. John Joslyn led off the fifth inning with his 18th and Bobby Holley hit one leading off the sixth inning. Scott Cline hit one in the eighth inning that tied the score at 3-3.
The Rainbows won it by scoring three runs with two out in the top of the ninth. They used three walks, a double steal, an error and a single by Markus Owens to give Sanchez only his third loss in 19 decisions.
Hawaii had men on first and second with two out when they pulled the double steal. The Bruins--and Sanchez--appeared to be out of the inning when Cline took catcher Todd Zeile's throw and made a diving tag on Robert Muhammed before he reached third base, but Larry Waggoner, one of only three umpires working the game, ruled him safe.
"I don't know why the NCAA doesn't have four umpires for these playoff games," UCLA Coach Gary Adams said afterward. "That was a critical play. The umpire was out of position and missed the play. The guy was out."
Adams also said that had the Bruins played their normal game, had they hit and manufactured runs, the play probably would not have had much impact. Brown, Adams said, had a lot to do changing the Bruins' game.
"The guy pitched a good ballgame as far as keeping us off base. He had good location with his pitches," Adams said. "If we hit like we normally do, we would have won."
Santa Barbara saved most of its hitting for the top of 10th inning. That's when the Gauchos used five hits and a two walks to score six runs to beat Loyola and extend their winning streak to eight games.
Three of the hits were home runs, including back-to-back blows by Erik Johnson and Greg Vella to open the inning. Quinn Mack, the younger brother of former UCLA All-American Shane Mack, capped the scoring with a long two-run homer to dead center.
The homers by Johnson and Vella were yielded by reliever Eric Reinholtz, who had allowed only one single in 3 innings after replacing starter Mark Stomp.