Ryan Garcia, UCLA baseball’s new Friday starter, pitched the best game of his collegiate career last night, leading the Bruins to a 5-0 victory over the Utah Utes at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Garcia went the distance for UCLA, allowing only two hits, and striking out a career high fourteen batters while throwing only 108 pitches. The Bruins seek the series win today at 2 p.m. PT.
While Garcia was amazing on the mound, UCLA staked him to an early lead with a three-run second inning. Michael Toglia started the inning with a double down the third base line, and was promptly scored by Jack Stronach’s single to right field. Matt McLain followed with a double to the gap in left center, putting runners on second and third with no outs.
After Jake Hirabyashi popped out, Noah Cardenas made a productive ground out to second base, scoring Stronach. With two outs, Garrett Mitchell singled home McLain, putting the Bruins up 3-0. UCLA could have had more, by Chase Strumpf struck out looking with two runners on base.
UCLA would pick up another run in the fifth inning on RBI sacrifice fly by Stronach, and another in the eighth on a bases loaded walk to Strumpf, scoring Hirabayashi, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.
But the story of the night was Garcia. Ute shortstop, Matt Richardson, hitting out of the number nine slot, had both of Utah’s hits, as Garcia shut down the rest of the Ute lineup, including the dangerous Oliver Dunn (0-4 with two strikeouts) and Erick Migueles (0-3).
The only other base runner allowed by Garcia was a lead-off walk in the fourth inning. Garcia retired the last twelve batters he faced, and never allowed a runner to reach second base. The closest Utah came to putting a runner in scoring position was when Richardson was gunned down by UCLA catcher Noah Cardenas while trying to steal second in the sixth inning.
It was a truly masterful performance by Garcia, who lowered his ERA to 1.10. UCLA Head Coach John Savage, already revered as a master of handling his pitching staff, looks like even more of a genius for making the switch from the struggling Zach Pettway to Garcia as the Friday starter.
The Bruins will seek the series win today, sending Jack Ralston (6-0, 3.00 ERA) to the mound for the Bruins. Utah will counter with senior lefthander, Josh Tedeschi (5-3, 5.50 ERA).
This is your UCLA Bruins versus Utah Utes baseball game two thread.