The UCLA Bruins baseball team completed the sweep of the weekend series against East Carolina with a sweep of Saturday’s doubleheader, 8-5 and 3-0. This week, the “midweek” game will be played tonight against Pepperdine in order to give the teams their usual rest before next weekend’s games which will start on Thursday, a day earlier this usual, due to the Easter holiday on Sunday.
Last Time Out
It was a case of “Let’s Take Two!” on Saturday as the Bruins swept their doubleheader against the Pirates. In the first game, Jack Ralston got the start, but had a bit of a rough outing. He threw five innings and gave up four runs on six hits and four walks, while striking out five. He also threw three wild pitches. Thankfully, the bullpen held pretty well. A combination of Michael Townsend, Nate Hadley and Kyle Mora put in four innings worth of work while giving up just one run on two hits and a walk while striking out six. Mora pitched the final two to earn his third win of the season.
UCLA got on the scoreboard first in this game when they rallied in the bottom of the second inning. Michael Toglia got things started with a one-out walk. Jarron Silva was up next and he hit an RBI double down the right field line which scored Toglia. Silva scored when Noah Cardenas singled through the right side and the Bruins had a 2-0 lead.
But, the Pirates came right back with a three-spot in the top of the third and they added one more in the fourth on Ralston’s third wild pitch, giving them a 4-2 lead after three and a half innings.
UCLA made the Pirates pay for walking Kevin Kendall with one out when he scored on a single to center by Ryan Kreidler, cutting ECU’s lead to 4-3. The Bruins, then, retook the lead in the sixth.
A bunt single by Kendall got this rally started and, two batters later, Garrett Mitchell hit a two-run homer to right, making it 5-4, UCLA.
But, this lead didn’t hold either as ECU tied it up, 5-5, in the top of the seventh on an RBI double.
It remained tied heading into the bottom of the ninth. After Kreidler was hit by a pitch and Chase Strumpf popped out, Jack Stronach drew a four-pitch walk. That set the table for Toglia, who drilled the first pitch he saw over the left field wall for a dramatic three-run walk-off home run to win the game.
Game two wasn’t quite as dramatic, but UCLA also won this one by three. Ryan Garcia gave coach John Savage seven innings of shutout baseball with just three hits and two walks while striking out 13 for his fourth win of the year. Mora pitched a one-two-three eighth inning and Holden Powell closed it out for his tenth save.
Matt McLain got things going for the Bruins offensively in the third with a lead-off single to right and advanced to second on a wild pitch to Jake Hirabayashi, who eventually walked. Will McInerney laid down a bunt to moved up the runners. When ECU starter Jake Kuchmaner threw his second wild pitch of the inning—this time to Garrett Mitchell—McLain was able to score from third.
Strumpf hit a solo homer with one out in the sixth to give the Bruins an insurance run. UCLA also added one more in the eighth, making the final in this one, 3-0, Bruins.
Tonight’s game against the Pepperdine Waves is actually a make-up of a game originally scheduled for March 5th, which was postponed due to rain.
Considering that the Bruins have won six straight, the Waves may end up wishing the game was just cancelled altogether.
That’s, in part, because it’s been an unremarkable year for Pepperdine. The Waves are 17-14 overall and 8-7 in the West Coast Conference.
The Waves come in to tonight’s game having lost three of their last four. While they salvaged a win against BYU on Saturday, they dropped the first two games of the series to the Cougars and their midweek game against UCSB last week.
The Waves are batting .271 as a team and averaging 5.6 runs per game. Comparatively, UCLA is batting .281 and and 6.3 runs per game. Pepperdine’s .384 slugging percentage is also lower than the Bruins’ .438 slugging percentage.
The bigger difference, though, is on the mound where the Waves’ Team ERA is 4.17 versus the Bruins’ 2.64. That’s huge. The best part about it is that, while tonight’s probable starter Jesse Bergin has a reasonable 3.07 ERA, none of the team’s relief pitchers have an ERA over 3.00.
So, look for another Bruin win at home tonight.
This is your UCLA vs. Pepperdine baseball open thread.