UCLA falls to San Francisco in regional opener
Every time UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole went into his motion, the speed guns went up. Each pitch was charted and discussed by more than a dozen major league scouts Friday.
It’s doubtful San Francisco’s Kyle Zimmer was even on their radar.
By the end of the evening, Zimmer was center stage. His four-hit shutout gave the Dons a 3-0 victory at Jackie Robinson Stadium, putting Cole one loss closer to the draft that he has tried to ignore. San Francisco (32-23) will play UC Irvine (40-16) Saturday at 6 p.m. UCLA (33-23) plays Fresno State (40-15), with the loser calling it a season.
Cole was the drawing card for scouts, who more or less shouldered their speed guns when Zimmer was on the mound. UCLA players pretty much did the same with their bats.
Zimmer retired 26 of the first 28 batters before UCLA loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth. Dons Coach Nino Giarratano went to the mound, but said later, “It was Kyle’s game to win or lose.” Zimmer then caught Cody Regis looking — his 11th strikeout. He was the fifth Bruin that Zimmer struck out looking.
“When you’re going against the best pitcher in the country, you have to keep things simple and attack hitters,” said Zimmer, who gave up four hits and did not walk a batter.
For the record: An earlier version of this report had a photo caption that incorrectly identified San Francisco’s Kyle Zimmer making a throw to first base. It was Jason Mahood making the throw.
This was nothing new for Zimmer (6-4), whose has walked the razor’s edge in his last three games. San Francisco and Gonzaga went into the last weekend tied with Gonzaga atop the West Coast Conference. Zimmer beat Gonzaga on Friday and came back Sunday to pitch a scoreless ninth to save the title-clinching victory.
“I have tried not to think about how big the games are right now,” Zimmer said. “I’m just going pitch by pitch.”
He saved his best for Friday, getting his first career shutout.
“Zimmer was the best we have seen this year,” UCLA Coach John Savage said.
This was Cole’s last audition before the Major League Baseball draft on Monday. He performed as he has much of the season. He was unhittable, except for the times the Dons hit him. Cole (6-8) had 11 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. He also gave up 11 hits of him.
Nik Balog had four singles, driving in runs in the third and fifth innings. Pinch hitter Adam Clear had a run-scoring single in the eighth.
UC Irvine 12, Fresno State 6: Jordan Leyland drove in five runs, three with a first-inning home run. Irvine scored five runs in the first inning off Fresno State starter Greg Gonzalez, who was 11-0 record with a 1.43 earned-run average going into the game.
Irvine’s Matt Summers (11-2), who threw a no-hitter against Long Beach State in his last game, went seven innings, giving up only one earned run.
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