UCLA loses to South Carolina, 7-1


Reporting from Omaha — Gerrit Cole spoke as if he were in shock, almost disbelief.

He had no explanation for perhaps his worst outing as a member of the UCLA baseball team. He gave up 11 hits and six runs in seven innings Monday in the Bruins’ 7-1 loss to South Carolina in the College World Series.

The best-of-three series for the national title resumes Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PDT at Rosenblatt Stadium.

“Well, they had a great approach,” Cole said. “I don’t know what the approach was. But whatever it was, it worked. They touched the ball with two strikes.”

The Bruins (51-16) had reason to believe they had an edge in the series, especially at pitching. Cole had a week off and South Carolina starter Blake Cooper was pitching on three days’ of rest.

But it was Cole who struggled and Cooper showed no effects of making his third start in nine days. Cooper gave up three hits and struck out 10 in eight-plus innings in front of 23,181.

“This guy sitting to my left just gave us an outstanding performance,” Coach Ray Tanner said of Cooper. “He just made pitch after pitch after pitch, and we hung in there and kept scoring a few more runs. Just a tremendous night for us. I thought our guys did a tremendous job against Cole.”

The success against Cole was a surprise for the Bruins, who relied heavily on pitching this season. After retiring the first two batters, it appeared Cole was headed toward a repeat of his last outing in the CWS. He struck out 13 last week against Texas Christian, but never showed that form against the Gamecocks.

Cole ran into trouble in the first inning when Jackie Bradley Jr. reached on a bunt and Christian Walker followed with a single. Brady Thomas singled to drive in Bradley from third base.

The Gamecocks (53-16) went ahead, 2-0, when second baseman Cody Regis mishandled a routine grounder, allowing Walker to score.

The play prompted Coach John Savage and the infielders to meet with Cole on the mound, but the struggles continued. The Gamecocks kept the pressure on, adding a run on Evan Marzilli’s single in the second inning.

Savage made another mound visit in the third inning after Cole gave up a single, hit a batter and committed an error to load the bases. He was on the verge of getting out of the jam when Kyle Enders flied out and Walker was thrown out while trying to score on the play.

But Cole gave up a two-run single to Bobby Haney to make it 5-0.

“It was clearly their night from the get-go,” Savage said. “They deserve to win the game. They dominated us, I think, in every phase, really. So it’s one game. And it’s the best two out of three, and we have bounced back. We have bounced back all season.”