UCLA's Pat Valaika scores behind Cal State Fullerton catcher Chad… (Jason Redmond / Associated…)
The question might start being asked. Has the college baseball landscape in Southern California shifted?
UCLA can make a case for that after a 3-0 victory over host Cal State Fullerton at Goodwin Field on Saturday night that retired the third-ranked Titans for the season and sent the Bruins to the College World Series in Omaha.
This could be a watershed moment. Fullerton has dominated the area baseball scene, winning four national titles, since moving to the Division I level in 1975. UCLA, too often, has been a stepping stone.
The Titans eliminated the Bruins from postseason play in 1979, 2007 and 2008. The Bruins broke through, beating Fullerton in 2010.
This is the third time in four seasons that the Bruins (44-17) have been to the College World Series. Fullerton (51-10) has not been to the College World Series since 2009, the longest draught in the program's history.
Nick Vander Tuig (12-4) put the Bruins on the path to Omaha, making it tough on the Titans. The junior right-hander worked out of trouble throughout and left with one out in the seventh leading, 3-0.
The Titans, who committed two errors in Friday's 5-3 loss, continued their sloppy play.
With two outs in the first inning, first baseman Carlos Lopez and third baseman Matt Chapman committed errors, sandwiched around an infield hit by Pat Valaika.
Pat Gallagher then did what has been his habit during the postseason. He lined a single to center field to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
Gallagher has driven in seven runs in UCLA's five postseason games.
Shane Zeile followed with a single, giving Vander Tuig a cushion.
UCLA Coach John Savage didn't expect Friday's loss to break the Titans' back. Fullerton, after all, is ranked third by Baseball America.
"You don't win 50 games and go away," Savage said Friday. "I believe Fullerton is the most complete team in the country."
Nor were the Titans worried.
"We trust ourselves and I trust my teammates that we are going to be able to come back and play our baseball," Michael Lorenzen said. "I trust that we are the better team. I am not worried about it at all, nothing has changed. We've lost Friday games before this season."