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A Wild Kingdom in Omaha for UCLA

College World Series: Bruins issue record 16 walks, including four in a row by Meyer for tie-breaking run in 12th inning of 7-3 loss to Miami.

June 01, 1997|GEORGE DOHRMANN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

OMAHA — What transpired Saturday for UCLA in its first College World Series appearance since 1969 was a slow crawl to defeat.

UCLA simply let Miami walk away with a 7-3 victory in 12 innings at Rosenblatt Stadium--the second-longest game in College World Series history. The 4-hour, 42-minute game was 18 minutes shy of the Arizona State-Oklahoma State game in 1981.

The Bruins (45-20-1) walked a record 16 batters, including six in that final inning, changed pitchers five times, and seemingly dared the Hurricanes to score in every inning.

"We'd give them chances, somehow get out of it, but then couldn't score ourselves," said right fielder Eric Byrnes. "Every inning I would jump off the bench and say, 'Well, we got out of that jam so now let's go out there and win this thing.' But we just never did."

Miami (50-16) put runners on in all but two innings and had runners in scoring position in six innings in which it didn't score, including with the bases loaded in the 10th and 11th innings.

"When you don't take advantage of as many opportunities as we had it starts to worry you," Miami Coach Jim Morris said.

One of the few innings UCLA's generosity translated into runs was the 12th, when Bruin reliever Jake Meyer walked four consecutive batters to give Miami a 4-3 lead. He gave way to Matt Klein, who allowed a two-run double to Bobby Hill, and then intentionally walked Jason Michaels before Pat Burrell's sacrifice fly finished the scoring.

"We dodged the bullet for a long time, but we couldn't dodge that last one," said UCLA Coach Gary Adams, whose team plays Mississippi State (46-20)--a 3-2 loser to Alabama Saturay--in an elimination game Monday.

Miami starter J.D. Arteaga dodged the potent UCLA lineup artfully. Despite a fastball too slow to pop his catcher's glove, the savvy of the left-hander allowed him to curve and change his way through the first eight innings.

"He did a great job of keeping us off balance," said UCLA shortstop Troy Glaus. "It seemed like he could throw any pitch he wanted [for a strike]."

Arteaga made only one real mistake on a day he gave up seven hits and one walk.

After retiring 20 of 21 batters and leading, 3-1, going in to the ninth, Byrnes led off with a single. Glaus followed with a homer to right on a Arteaga curveball that Glaus said it took until the ninth to figure out.

"I had been trying to adjust and go the other way [to right]," said Glaus. "He got his curve up a little bit and I just tried to drive it."

While the Miami players felt the eerie similarity between Glaus' 33rd homer and the one that Louisiana State's Warren Morris hit to defeat the Hurricanes in last season's College World Series final, the man who gave up Morris' homer, Robbie Morrison, trotted in from the bullpen.

"It felt like last year," said Morrison. "But since I gave up that homer [last season] I have wanted to come back here and redeem myself."

He did by holding the Bruins to one hit in the final 3 2/3 innings.

UCLA's Jim Parque was off the mark from the opening pitch. He threw 106 pitches in five innings and 50 in the first two. His 98th pitch came in the fifth and was hit by Michaels deep into the stands in right for a 3-1 Miami lead.

"I just didn't have any rhythm," Parque said. "I had to battle all day."

Parque held Miami scoreless in the first two innings after the Hurricanes put runners at second in both, and only a run-scoring wild pitch prevented Parque from escaping a bases-loaded jam in the third.

After Michael's homer , Tom Jacquez relieved and held Miami scorelss into the eighth. Freshman Rob Henkel took it from there, and got out of two-on, one-out situation with a doubleplay.

Meyer did a similar saving act with two strikeouts in the 10th and Glaus' off-balance throw to force a runner at second in the 11th kept UCLA breathing.

"If you would have told me that we hold Miami to three runs through nine I would have said there is no way we lose," said Byrnes. "We just didn't hit today and that is not Bruin baseball.

"I mean, Miami is good, and [Arteaga and Morrison] are great pitchers, but now I've seen five of the [other seven] teams in this thing and I'll tell you this: we are better than all of them. We just didn't do a damn thing today."

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