Just as it was all season, pitching has been UCLA's calling card in the NCAA baseball regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
On Saturday night, Bruins sophomore right-hander Trevor Bauer shut down defending national champion Louisiana State, striking out 11 in eight-plus innings as UCLA beat the Tigers, 6-3, to remain unbeaten in the regional.
LSU will play UC Irvine, a 19-9 winner Saturday over Kent State, in an elimination game today at 2 p.m. The winner meets UCLA, which needs only one more victory in the double-elimination tournament to advance to a super-regional.
Cody Regis, Jeff Gelalich and Dean Espy hit home runs for the Bruins, who improved to 45-13.
Bauer (10-3), from Valencia, gave up seven hits, walked two and pitched out of several jams to outduel LSU's Anthony Ranaudo, who gave up seven hits and struck out 10 in six innings.
"There was no set sequence," LSU first baseman Blake Dean said of Bauer. "The guy would throw every pitch in different counts. . . . As a hitter you had no set pattern to look for. It was basically all four pitches."
Bauer was threatening to hand LSU its first shutout since 2007 before a ninth-inning error by second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla set the table for back-to-back run-scoring doubles by Austin Nola and Leon Landry that chased Bauer.
Bruins reliever Dan Klein gave up a run-scoring fly ball, but got the final three outs to secure the win.
"At different points in the game different stuff was working," Bauer said. "Kind of a battle for me.
Ranaudo (5-3) surrendered a solo homer to Regis in the second inning and then walked Regis with the bases loaded in the third. Gelalich hit his first homer of the season in the fourth and Beau Amaral drove in a run with double in the sixth.
Espy homered in the seventh against left-hander Jordan Rittiner and also singled in a run in the ninth.
The loss dropped LSU into a rematch with Irvine, which fell to the Tigers, 11-10, in 11 innings Friday.
Irvine pitcher Christian Bergman helped the Anteaters stave off elimination Saturday, cruising through a five-inning stint against Kent State.
Irvine Coach Mike Gillespie pulled Bergman after 78 pitches, setting up the possibility he could start Monday if the Anteaters win twice today.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to bounce back pretty quick and be able to contribute," said Bergman, who gave up an unearned run and five hits and struck out four.
Irvine (38-20) could provide Bergman with the opportunity if it continues to hit like it did Saturday, when it had 21 hits and scored in every inning to send Kent State (39-25) home.
Second baseman Casey Stevenson had five hits, first baseman Jeff Cusick drove in five runs and designated hitter Jordan Leyland and catcher Francis Larson hit home runs for Irvine.
"When somebody hits, everybody hits," said Larson, who has three homers in two regional games. "It's a very contagious lineup."