Pitching . . . pitching . . . pitching.
That's just about all people have talked, asked or written about this baseball season when it comes to UCLA.
However, with the Bruins one out from being finished, it was a guy with a bat in his hands who "didn't want to see the season end" — and did something about it.
It was then that second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla hit a shot that Coach John Savage said "will go down as one of the biggest hits in UCLA history."
Rahmatulla's two-run home run erased a Cal State Fullerton lead last Saturday as the Bruins won, 11-7, in 10 innings, then pounded the Titans, 8-1, the next day to get to the College World Series.
Pitching is the reason the Bruins (48-14) set a school record for victories. Pitching paid for UCLA's first trip to Omaha since 1997. Pitching is what should concern Florida (47-15), the Bruins' opponent in Saturday's World Series opener at 4 p.m. PDT.
Yet a group of young batters — five starters are freshmen or sophomores — probably will be the key as the Bruins seek the first Series win in school history.
"The first 20 games we knew we had an exciting offense, and an offense that didn't rely on one or two players," Savage said. "We had depth. We knew we had recruited good players, but you don't know what you have until they go out and do it."
Rahmatulla, a sophomore, would be the poster player for the patience that UCLA showed with its young hitters. He batted .522 as the Bruins won 22 consecutive games to start the season, then .234 the rest of the way.
But, Savage said, "We knew he was our guy and we stuck with him. We never moved him out of the third spot in the order. It proved to be the right decision."
The problem now: He won't be there anymore.
Rahmatulla, who was batting .328 with seven homers and 45 runs batted in, broke a wrist in the celebratory dog pile Sunday after UCLA recorded the final out against Fullerton.
Fortunately for the Bruins, they have other young players — including a couple of freshmen — who have been producing in the clutch.
Freshman outfielder Beau Amaral put the finishing touches on Sunday's victory with a two-run homer. He had three hits and three RBIs in the game. His third-inning single tied the score, 1-1.
The week before, freshman third baseman Cody Regis had two home runs and six RBIs as the Bruins advanced through a four-team regional. His three-run homer clinched the victory over UC Irvine that sent the Bruins into the super regional against Fullerton.
Meanwhile, the pitching staff just kept doing what it's been doing all along. The Bruins have a 2.97 staff earned-run average, which is second best in the nation.
The pitching made it easy to look past UCLA's potential on offense. But it also helped create that offense.
"Facing our staff every day in the fall got us ready for the season," Amaral said. "It was a big adjustment for me. I didn't get my first hit [in the fall] for two weeks. When the season started, it was almost a relief not to face our pitchers every day."
The Bruins have a respectable .307 team batting average and plenty of balance — three players have eight home runs; two have hit seven.
"We put pressure on the other team. We move runners along, either with a bunt or a hit-and-run or the run game," Savage said. "We're not going to bang the ball around too much."
UCLA has hit only 61 home runs — but it has stolen 97 bases. The Bruins had eight stolen bases in the three games against Fullerton.
Junior shortstop Niko Gallego got the offense started in the deciding game, stealing second and third base and then scoring the Bruins' first run in the third inning after a single.
Yet by the end of the game, it was left-hander Rob Rasmussen who stood at center stage. He pitched a two-hitter.
So the story again was great pitching, the Bruins' offense an afterthought to almost everyone.
But not to Rasmussen.
"Eight runs," he said. "Our offense has been undersold."