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UCLA, Cal State Fullerton and Pepperdine win conference baseball titles

They earn automatic berths to NCAA regionals, one of which will be played at UCLA. Long Beach State is on the bubble.

May 27, 2012|By Gary Klein

UCLA, Cal State Fullerton and Pepperdine closed college baseball's regular season Sunday by clinching conference titles and automatic berths in the NCAA playoffs.

However, Long Beach State must wait until Monday to learn whether it will be invited as an at-large team to the 64-team tournament.

And USC can only look to next season to possibly end a seven-year absence from the playoffs.

UCLA began Sunday's finale against USC knowing it would play host to one of 16 NCAA regionals. The NCAA announced the sites about 30 minutes before the Bruins completed a three-game sweep of the Trojans.

The four-team regionals will be played Friday through Monday. Winners advance to super regionals on June 8-11 to determine the participants in the College World Series on June 15-26 in Omaha.

Other regional sites: Baton Rouge, La.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Charlottesville, Va.; College Station, Texas; Columbia, S.C.; Coral Gables, Fla.; Eugene, Ore.; Gainesville, Fla.; Gary, Ind.; Houston; Palo Alto; Raleigh, N.C.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Tucson; and Waco, Texas.

UCLA entered Sunday tied with Oregon and Arizona for first place in thePac-12 Conference.

Oregon lost to Oregon State, 5-0, at Corvallis, Ore., and Arizona defeated Arizona State, 8-7, on a walk-off single in the ninth inning at Tucson.

That set the stage for UCLA.

Pat Valaika hit a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Bruins a 7-5 lead, and UCLA held on for a 7-6 victory.

UCLA (42-14) and Arizona (38-17) finished asPac-12co-champions with 20-10 conference records. The Bruins got the automatic berth based on their 2-1 record against the Wildcats. UCLA repeated as conference champion for the first time.

USC finished 23-32 overall and 8-22 in thePac-12. The Trojans have not been to the postseason since 2005.

Fullerton, already assured a 21st consecutive playoff appearance, won the Big West Conference with a 5-1 victory over host Long Beach State.

Freshman J.D. Davis hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning to key a four-run outburst. Freshman Kenny Mathews gave up one unearned run in eight-plus innings for the Titans (35-19, 17-7).

Fullerton, however, will not play host to a regional for the first time since 2007.

A victory over Fullerton would have assured Long Beach State of an automatic berth. But the loss, coupled with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's sweep of UC Riverside, left the 49ers at 28-27 overall and in third place behind Fullerton and San Luis Obispo in the Big West.

Pepperdine (34-21) won the West Coast Conference title by defeating San Diego, 5-1, in Malibu.

Corey Miller gave up no runs and three hits and struck out seven in seven innings for the Waves.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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