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Murphy moves UCLA forward

June 04, 2007|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

Another day, another solid pitching performance for the UCLA baseball team.

This time Tim Murphy overcame a rocky first inning, throwing 140 pitches in a complete game as the Bruins knocked off host Long Beach State, 7-4, Sunday night and advanced to a super regional this weekend against the San Diego Regional winner.

It is the first time UCLA (33-26) has advanced out of a regional since 2000 and only the fourth time in school history.

"This is a big step," Coach John Savage said. "We were 8-14 and going nowhere, but we just took off. I think it took a while for this team to get some identity."

Murphy walked two batters and gave up three runs and two hits in the first inning, but blanked the 49ers for the last six. He finished with an eight-hitter, walking four and striking out eight.

He followed a two-hitter Saturday by teammate Gavin Brooks and a near-complete game Friday by Tyson Brummett. Murphy got the final out on Friday, meaning the Bruins won three games and used only three pitchers in doing so.

"It's something I haven't seen in my 15 years as a coach," Savage said. "You can't say enough about their endurance. They stayed strong and kept us in every game. What they were able to do for us this weekend was outstanding."

Unlike the previous two games, however, UCLA needed to find some offense to beat Long Beach State. Brooks gave up only an unearned run in Saturday's 3-1 victory over Illinois Chicago and Brummett took a 7-0 lead into the ninth inning of Friday's 7-3 victory over Pepperdine.

But UCLA trailed, 3-0, after the first inning and 4-2 after three.

Jermaine Curtis sparked a four-run UCLA outburst in the fifth inning when he led off with a home run. Alden Carrithers followed with a soft liner to left for a single and then Shane Peterson hit Brandon Crawford with a pitch.

Coach Mike Weathers summoned Andre Lamontagne from the bullpen, but the right-hander walked Cody Decker to load the bases and then Gabe Cohen, the Pacific 10 Conference newcomer of the year, became the fifth consecutive UCLA batter to reach base when he laced a two-run double to center field to give UCLA 5-4 lead.

That chased Lamontagne, who gave way to Daniel Wolford. Tim Stewart greeted Wolford with a line out to center that scored Cody Decker for a 6-4 UCLA lead. Wolford escaped the inning without any further damage.

The Bruins added a run in the sixth when Carrithers reached on a fielder's choice and Crawford and Decker followed with consecutive two-out singles for a 7-4 lead.

"We just kept believing every pitch," said Curtis, who was selected most valuable player of the regional.

Murphy took over from there. He also retired 14 of 15 batters between the third and eighth innings, giving up only a leadoff walk in the fifth during that stretch.

He said he regrouped after the first inning by narrowing his focus to the task at hand instead of thinking about winning the game and the regional.

"I was looking too much at the big picture," he said. "You can't think about that stuff on the mound, you have to just focus on the game."

Long Beach State (39-20) took advantage of early wildness by Murphy, who walked two of the first four batters, and scored three first-inning runs. Robert Perry's two-run double keyed the rally.

Justin Uribe and Brady Dolan led off the UCLA third with consecutive hits and the Bruins scored twice to pull within a run, 3-2, but Long Beach State answered with a run in the bottom of the third on a two-out bases-loaded single by Brandon Godfrey that gave the 49ers a 4-2 lead.

Long Beach State put two runners on in the eighth and got a two-out triple from Danny Espinosa in the ninth, but all three were stranded.

"We had [Murphy] on the ropes early and we didn't get it done and get him out of the game," Weathers said. "I think it's remarkable what their pitching staff was able to do this whole tournament."

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