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'Eaters bound for UVA

College Baseball

Shaeffer's RBI single breaks tie and topples UCLA as UCI advances to super regional against No. 1-ranked Cavaliers.

June 06, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

LOS ANGELES — The walk-off hero, Ronnie Shaeffer, said he sneaked his game-winning single by UCLA first baseman Dean Espy in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Anteaters a 4-3 win in the NCAA Los Angeles baseball regional Sunday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Some would say UCI (42-16) also sneaked by the top-seeded Bruins (35-24) without having to face their two best starting pitchers, Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, to claim the program's third regional crown in five seasons.

Cole, selected No.1 in the major league draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, and Bauer, the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year who went No. 3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, were deemed perhaps the two best pitchers in UCLA history by Bruins Coach and former UCI head man John Savage. But when San Francisco upset Cole in the opening round Friday, Bauer and the Bruins were relegated to outdueling Fresno State in Saturday's elimination round.

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UCLA then burned No. 3 starter, Adam Plutko (who Savage called the best freshman pitcher in the country) in another elimination game Sunday morning against USF, leaving mid-week starter Zack Weiss, another freshman, to make his third start against UCI this season.

The Anteaters, who are 9-0 in winning the Round Rock (Texas), Lincoln (Neb.) and Los Angeles regionals in 2007, 2008 and 2011, respectively, will not however miss Virginia ace Danny Hultzen when they venture to Charlottesville, Va. for the best-of-three super regional that opens Saturday at 10 a.m. (PDT) Sunday's game starts at 10 a.m. (PDT) Both games will be aired on ESPNU.

If a third game is needed it will be Monday.

Hultzen, a junior left-hander picked No. 2 overall Monday by the Seattle Mariners, is 11-3 with a 1.57 earned-run average this season and is 31-5 with a 2.18 ERA and 378 strikeouts in 305 1/3 career innings.

Hultzen is also hitting .336 with one home run and 34 runs batted in this season. He was seven for 11 with five RBIs in three regional games, in which the Cavaliers (52-9), the No. 1 national seed, outscored their opponents, 29-3.

Hultzen pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings against the 'Eaters as a freshmen, when UVA defeated UCI twice to eliminate UCI from the 2009 Irvine Regional at Anteater Ballpark.

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