June 14, 2010

By Jonathan Raber
Special to NCAA.com

LOS ANGELES - Two years ago, Cal State Fullerton knocked Rob Rasmussen and UCLA out of the postseason.

He wasn't about to let it happen again.

Rasmussen pitched a complete game two-hitter and carried UCLA to the College World Series for the first time in 13 years with an 8-1 victory over Fullerton in the elimination game of Sunday's NCAA Division I baseball Super Regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

"Once we made that comeback (Saturday to tie the series), I was like, `Please, for Fullerton's sake, don't give me the ball,'" he said, "because I want this really bad because of what they did two years ago."

In 2008, Fullerton eliminated UCLA in a regional before losing to Stanford in a Super Regional.

But this year, the dream season rolls on for the Bruins (48-14), who have already set a school-record for wins and will make their third World Series appearance and first since 1997. They will face Florida in the opening game in Omaha, Neb.

The loss ends a tumultuous campaign for Fullerton (46-18), which stumbled out of the gate with a 7-9 start but had turned it around of late by winning 19 of the past 22. It wasn't enough as the Titans fell short of their fourth trip to the Series in five seasons.

"There was a script written for this team and unfortunately it wasn't what we hoped it was going to be," Fullerton coach Dave Serrano said.

The Bruins were one out away from elimination on Saturday before battling back with a two-run homer in the ninth and four runs in the 10th of an 11-7 win. They didn't need to worry about coming from behind in this one.

"We just felt that whoever went out there and threw the first punches was probably going to end up on top," Bruins center fielder Beau Amaral said.

Amaral homered and drove in three runs and Jeff Gelalich, Niko Gallego and Tyler Rahmatulla all added RBIs in support of Rasmussen.

The junior left-hander gave up a first-inning run but went on cruise control thereafter.

Tyler Pill's single in the fourth inning was Fullerton's only other hit and its last of the game as Rasmussen allowed just a walk over the final 5 2/3 frames. He finished with nine strikeouts on 112 pitches in his first career complete game.

"This guy's been great all year," UCLA coach John Savage said. "This is a guy who is 11-2, he went in the second round (Florida Marlins). He's a special guy."

UCLA took advantage of a miscue for a pair of key runs in the third. With one run already home, center fielder Joey Siddons dropped what would have been the final out of the frame and instead allowed Steve Rodriguez and Amaral to score for the 3-1 lead.

"It was a big play in the game," Serrano said. "But those two runs weren't going to beat us, in my mind."

Gelalich and Gallego connected for back-to-back RBI singles in the sixth off starter Dylan Floro to make it 5-1.

By the time Amaral belted a two-run shot in the eighth, it was all but decided as the Bruins exacted some revenge on Fullerton. Prior to the win, they were just 4-19 against their Southern California counterparts since Savage took over the program in 2005.

Floro (7-2), the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year, allowed six runs - four earned - on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings to absorb the loss.

Fullerton wasted little time getting on the board as Christian Colon led off with a single and came around to score on Pill's groundout in the first.