Jeff Gelalich powers UCLA into a super regional
UCLA won its first two NCAA regional games with power arms on the pitcher’s mound.
On Sunday night, outfielder Jeff Gelalich powered the Bruins to the regional title with two home runs in UCLA’s 13-5 victory over Creighton at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Bruins advanced to a super regional and will face Texas Christian or Mississippi, who play Monday in a regional final at College Station, Texas.
The Bruins, seeded second nationally, improved to 45-15 and are expected to play host to the best-of-three super regional that will begin Friday. The NCAA will announce super regional sites Monday.
Gelalich, a junior outfielder from La Verne, put on a display on the eve of Monday’s Major League Baseball draft, hammering a two-run first-inning home run against right-hander Nick Musec and a fifth-inning blast against left-hander Mark Winkelman.
Gelalich also hit two home runs in a February game at Cal State Northridge and has 11 this season. He also singled in a run and walked twice Sunday night en route to being voted the regional’s most outstanding player.
“I think we are playing pretty good baseball. We just want to carry this momentum to next week,” Gelalich said.
Trevor Brown and Pat Valaika each drove in two runs as the Bruins produced 11 hits.
UCLA had defeated Creighton, 3-0, Friday on the strength of sophomore right-hander Adam Plutko’s two-hitter.
The Bruins then beat New Mexico, 7-1, as Nick Vander Tuig flirted with a no-hitter before surrendering a double in the eighth inning. UCLA batters also produced 17 hits.
Bruins starter Zack Weiss (3-2) wasn’t as dominant Sunday, giving up three runs and seven hits in five innings. But the sophomore from Irvine pitched out of jams in the second and third innings and gave UCLA a solid effort before giving way to David Berg, Ryan Deeter and then Scott Griggs.
Creighton (28-30) had advanced to Sunday’s nightcap by defeating New Mexico, 7-2, in an afternoon elimination game highlighted by Anthony Bemboom’s three-run first-inning home run.
The Missouri Valley Conference champions were hoping to defeat the Bruins and force a decisive game Monday so they could bring back junior left-hander Ty Blach, who had pitched well against the Bruins on Friday.
The Bluejays got off to a fast start, Bemboom hitting a two-run double in the first inning.
But Gelalich tied the score with his two-run shot to right field in his first at-bat.
The Bruins broke open the game in the third inning when Kevin Kramer singled, advanced to third on Beau Amaral’s single and scored on Tyler Heineman’s groundout to shortstop.
Brown’s bases-loaded single drove in two runs, Valaika’s bunt drove in another and Shane Ziele’s run-scoring pinch-hit single gave UCLA a 7-2 lead.
Gelalich’s leadoff blast to right field in the fifth inning made the score 8-2 and the Bruins could start thinking seriously about a super regional and making a return to trip to Omaha for the College World Series.
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