Poteet steps up, Bruins stay in it
Cody Poteet was handed UCLA’s baseball season Sunday afternoon.
The junior, who was making his postseason debut, was in charge of keeping the Bruins alive in the NCAA tournament. Heady stuff for a guy who had not pitched in a postseason.
By the time Poteet was done, he was experienced. His 51⁄3 scoreless innings put UCLA on the path to a 9-1 victory over Cal State Bakersfield in the UCLA regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
It got the Bruins (44-15) to Sunday night’s game against Maryland (41-21). UCLA, the top-seeded team in the tournament, needed to beat the Terrapins on Sunday and Monday to advance to a super regional.
UCLA led Maryland, 4-2, through seven innings at press time.
“Cody battled and found himself a little bit,” Coach John Savage said. “He survived. We’re in survival mode.”
UCLA scored five runs in the seventh inning and three in the eighth to give the game a we-had-it-easy look. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Poteet and the Bruins nursed a 1-0 lead with their season hanging on each pitch.
“I wanted to make pitches and stay out there a little while,” Poteet said.
He took with him lessons learned from other UCLA pitchers who had handled the postseason pressure.
“They went out and tried to be consistent,” Poteet said. “They didn’t try to be supermen.”
Poteet gave up only three hits, but walked four batters and hit two, and spent most of the game pitching from the stretch.
His first three innings were treacherous, as he walked four batters and hit one. Yet, when he needed to make a pitch, he did. And when he needed the Bruins to make a play, they did.
In the first inning, Poteet hit leadoff batter Jordie Hein and walked David Metzgar one out later. He got out of the inning by getting Soloman Williams to hit into a double play.
With two on and two out in the third inning, Williams lined a single to right field and Drew Seelman tried to score from second base. Right fielder Kort Peterson’s one-hop throw beat Seelman to the plate by 10 feet.
Cal State Bakersfield (37-24-1) stranded eight runners.
UCLA’s offense, stif led into submission in a 4-1 loss to Maryland on Saturday night, continued to lurch along. Kevin Kramer hit the second pitch of the game for his seventh home run and the Bruins lived off that through six innings.
In the seventh, an error by shortstop Mylz Jones led to five unearned runs and seemed to loosen things up for the Bruins. They had four hits in six-plus innings before the error and nine after it.
With two on and two outs, Brett Stephens hit a grounder right at Jones, who had the ball go throw his glove. Darrell Miller Jr. scored for a 2-0 lead. Ty Moore followed by launching a 2-and-1 pitch well beyond the right-field fence. Chris Keck had a run-scoring double in the inning.
DARRELL MILLER JR., left, is greeted by UCLA teammates after scoring in the second inning against Maryland. The Bruins led, 4-2, through seven innings.