The UCLA baseball team has been hit with a piling-on penalty.
Tyler Rahmatulla, a sophomore second baseman who is one of the Bruins’ top hitters, will not be able to play in the College World Series after he sustained a broken right wrist Sunday during the team’s celebration dog-pile after its Super Regional-clinching win over Cal State Fullerton.
The injury comes only three weeks after Angels slugger Kendry Morales suffered a broken leg while celebrating a walk-off grand slam.
“You tell players not to get excited after something like that, but it’s a tough position to be in,” said UCLA Coach John Savage, who learned of Rahmatulla’s status after the player underwent an X-ray. “You think of the Kendry Morales thing and it makes you sick. We lost one of our best players and we didn’t have to.”
Rahmatulla batted third in the Bruins’ order, and was hitting .328 with seven home runs and 45 runs batted in. His two-run home run with UCLA one out from being eliminated Saturday erased a 6-5 Fullerton lead and helped force Sunday’s deciding game.
In the three games against the Titans, Rahmatulla drove in four runs.
When Rahmatulla first reported his wrist was sore, “I really didn’t think it was much, to be quite honest,” Savage said.
The coach said he wasn’t sure what could be done to curb enthusiastic celebrations after important victories.
“It’s the last out of a Super Regional and it did cross my mind,” Savage said. “You hold your breath with these things. We learn from this, move on and make adjustments.”
UCLA (48-14) plays its first College World Series game Saturday against Florida (47-15) at 4 p.m. The Bruins have not announced how the injury would change their batting order or who might play second base. One option is that freshman third baseman Cody Regis would move over to second and either Dean Espy or Trevor Brown would play third.
Espy leads UCLA with a .353 batting average and 48 RBIs and is a co-leader with eight home runs. Brown is batting .296.