The UCLA baseball team (5-1) prevailed on the road yesterday in their second game against Georgia Tech, by the score of 8-2, evening the three-game series. The teams will square off early today in the rubber match at 10 am PT.
UCLA was able to down the Yellow Jackets yesterday by doing precisely what they were unable to do on Friday night: deliver the big hit. On Friday, UCLA scored three runs in a losing effort, two by way of the sacrifice fly and one on an RBI single. All of the Bruins’ hits were singles and UCLA left nine men stranded on base. Simply stated, UCLA could not deliver the big hit on Friday.
That changed yesterday, with UCLA getting three such “big hits” with two outs, which were the catalyst for UCLA’s victory.
After Georgia Tech took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, UCLA answered back in the top of the second. Jake Pries singled and freshman center fielder Matt McLain doubled. With two outs and runners on second and third, senior Jake Hirabayashi delivered the first big hit, singling home the two Bruins runners and giving UCLA a 2-1 it would never relinquish.
The next inning, in the top of the third, UCLA once against had two outs, this time with a runner on first. The Bruins pounded out three straight hits. First, Pries singled. Then, Michael Toglia, who didn’t have his best game on Friday, doubled down the left field line, scoring two runs. McLain followed that with a two-run home run, expanding the Bruins’ lead to 6-1.
All six of those UCLA runs were scored with two outs. Although the Yellow Jackets clawed back a run in the fourth inning on a single, a walk, and and RBI fielder’s choice, they would not seriously threaten the Bruins for the remainder of the game.
The Bruins would add two more scores. One came on a Chase Strumpf solo home run in the seventh inning and another came on a balk in the ninth inning, but it was the UCLA pitching that really shut down Tech for the remainder of the game.
Three Bruins relievers, Jack Filby, Nate Hadley, and Holden Powell held the Yellow Jackets hitless over the final four innings, with only Powell allowing a base runner on a walk. UCLA’s bullpen, a weakness the past few seasons, is looking much improved this season.
UCLA’s starting pitcher, Jack Ralston (2-0), wasn’t too bad himself, throwing five innings of two-run, four-hit baseball. Ralston earned his second victory of the season in his two starts, already eclipsing the one win he had in 2018.
Both teams will fight today for the series win. It is an early one for those watching on the West Coast with the first pitch at 10 am PT.
UCLA freshman Jesse Bergin, who pitched well in his UCLA debut last week, will start on the mound for UCLA. This will be a big road test for him. Georgia Tech will counter with lefty Brant Hurter. Hurter has only thrown one inning so far this season and that was out of the bullpen. Today will be his first start.
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