Preview of Super Regional

UCLA faces perennial power Cal State Fullerton in the Super Regional starting this Friday, a team they went 1-2 against in the regular season this year. But the Bruins are different now that they're healthy, getting their best hitter back, as they try to make it to the College World Series for the first time in a decade...

UCLA will face perennial power Cal State Fullerton in the Super Regional of the NCAA tournament this Saturday, Sunday and Monday (if needed).

The winner of the-best-of-three series will advance to the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska June 15-25.

UCLA has been to the CWS one time (1997) in the span that CSUF has won four national titles (1979, 1984, 1995 and 2004).

The Bruins are 33-26 this season, including a 14-10 mark and a third-place finish in the Pac-10. Fullerton is 36-23 overall and finished 10-11, good enough for fifth place, in the Big West Conference. UCLA was 1-2 versus the Titans this season, with all three games being won by the visitors.

In UCLA's win against the Fullerton, senior ace Tyson Brummett held Fullerton to only two runs and five hits, striking out 11 and walking only one in a complete-game victory. Five Bruins had two hits, including shortstop Brandon Crawford, who drove in two.

The good news is UCLA's best hitter, Cody Decker (.314, 14 home runs), was limited to only two pinch-hit appearances in the three-games series. Adding 14 home runs and 57 RBI's to a lineup that scored six runs in the losses to Fullerton can't hurt.

The Bruins are likely to face the Titans' junior pitchers Wes Roemer and Jeff Kaplan in the first two games, with freshman Sean Urena being the starter if there is a third game. Brummett beat Roemer in UCLA's victory earlier in the year.

Fullerton relies on its pitching and station-to-station offense, having only one player with more than five home runs. Junior Nick Mahin(OF/1B) has nine home runs and 45 RBI, which both lead the team. Fullerton only has two .300 hitters in junior Clark Hardman and freshman Josh Fellhauer (both OF), while the Bruins are hitting almost .300 as a team with five players hitting above that mark.

This is not the same powerhouse Fullerton team that won the title in 2004 and nearly repeated in 2005, but they are well coached and have an excellent pitching staff (3.85 team ERA).

The Bruins are mostly healthy for the first time this year and if the pitching continues to excel as it did in the Long Beach regional, they will be able to match the Titans pitching. If that is the case, UCLA's superior hitting will be the difference.

Prediction: UCLA in 3.

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