Like everyone else at Rosenblatt Stadium, UCLA's Trevor Bauer was feeling the heat. He said pregame warmups were almost intolerable. He gave up a homer in the first inning and had to work out of a mini-jam in the second. And it wasn't long after that his sleeves -- yes, the quirky sophomore was wearing a long-sleeved liner -- were soaked through.
So don't think the Bruins' 10-3 win Saturday against TCU was no sweat. Sweet? Yes. The Bruins (51-15), who hadn't won a game in two previous College World Series, are heading to the best-of-three championship round to face South Carolina on Monday after Bauer limited the Horned Frogs to four hits and struck out 13 in eight innings.
Blair Dunlap hit a three-run homer in UCLA's five-run first, and the Bruins won going away. "Obviously, that five-spot in the first inning was huge," Bauer said. "It gives me confidence they have my back and simplifies your pitching approach. Throw strikes and don't put people on base. In a tighter game you have to be more careful and there's higher stress. It's huge when the offense can support you like that."
Aside from Bryan Holaday's two home runs for TCU, Bauer (12-3) dominated a lineup that was batting a CWS-best .337. The Frogs, in the CWS for the first time, finished the year 54-14. Bauer, with his fastball approaching the mid 90s, allowed only one more base runner after Holaday's fifth-inning homer, and that was on a walk. He struck out the last four batters he faced before Daniel Klein came on to pitch a scoreless ninth.
"The eighth inning was an unreal inning," UCLA coach John Savage said. "He was on top of his game." Bauer and the Bruins weathered Omaha's hottest day of the year. The temperature was 94 degrees with a heat index, or feel-like temperature, of 107 degrees by the seventh inning. A thermometer on the field measured the temperature at 109.
Home-plate umpire Jim Jackson and second-base umpire Mark Ditsworth had to be treated for heat issues during the game, which lasted 3 hours, 40 minutes. "It was definitely hot out there," Holaday said. "And then those long innings, they had a lot of really good at-bats and seemed like every inning they had runners on. And definitely it wears you out a little bit being out in the heat like that."
Bauer said he drank fluids and stayed near the fan between innings. "I kind of caught my breath after the fourth," he said. "I cooled down a little bit and kind of went along from there. My sleeves were so wet they kind of kept me cool. There was a breeze." Bauer's strikeouts raised his season total to a nation-leading 165. He has 10 or more strikeouts in eight of his 18 starts and has pitched seven or more innings in 15.
He turned in a second straight impressive performance. In the Bruins' CWS opener against Florida last Saturday, he recorded 11 strikeouts in seven innings in an 11-3 win. Bauer struck out Jerome Pena to start the game before Holaday hit the first of his two home runs. Holaday finished with four homers in five CWS games and 17 for the season.
Holaday's first homer went deep into the left-field bleachers. His second glanced off a fan in the first row, over leaping center fielder Beau Amaral, and dropped back onto the field. UCLA roughed up TCU starter Kyle Winkler (12-3) for the second straight game. He didn't record an out, hitting Amaral, the leadoff man, and giving up a single to Niko Gallego before Dunlap homered to left to help the Bruins get out to a 5-1 lead.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle had a short leash on Winkler. He was hoping to bounce back from rough outing against UCLA on Monday, when he allowed five runs on six hits over 2 2-3 innings in what, until Saturday, was his shortest outing of the season. "I don't think he had it from the get-go," Schlossnagle said. "He hit the leadoff hitter, didn't throw a strike, and had the chopper go through on the right side and then tried to find his breaking ball since he didn't have any command of his fastball. And they hit it out. So he just didn't have much of anything."