Fresh off a series win over UC Berkeley, which was capped by UCLA’s 6-1 victory in the rubber match, the #1 ranked UCLA Bruins Baseball team (30-7) heads across the Los Angeles basin to Cal State Fullerton tonight to face the Titans. First pitch is at 6 pm PT.
Cal State Fullerton (16-19), which hosted a super regional last season and made an appearance in the College World Series in 2017, does not appear to be headed to the postseason this year, sitting at 4-6 in the Big West Conference and 16-19 overall. The Titans do have some big bats though. So, UCLA will need to be focused on the road tonight to bring home the win and keep their perfect midweek record intact heading into the weekend series versus Utah.
Last Time Out
On Saturday afternoon, the Bruins outlasted UC Berkeley in the rubber match of the series, prevailing by the score of 6-1. Jack Ralston (6-0) threw 61⁄3 innings, scattering six hits but allowing only one run. He struck out six.
UCLA jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on the strength of four straight hits, a balk, and a sacrifice fly. Matt McLain lead off with a single, followed by a single by Noah Cardenas, putting runners on first and second.
Garrett Mitchell singled, scoring McLain, and a balk advanced the runners to second and third. Kreidler doubled home Cardenas, and a Chase Strumpf sacrifice fly scored Mitchell, putting the Bruins up 3-0.
The Bruins put a breadstick on the board in the sixth inning on an infield single by Jake Pries, scoring Strumpf who walked earlier in the inning on a ten-pitch at-bat.
The Golden Bears got a run of their own in the seventh on a walk, a double (chasing Ralston), and a sacrifice fly, cutting UCLA’s lead to 4-1.
But that is as close as they would get. UCLA would add two more in the bottom of the eighth and UCLA relievers Jack Filby, Kyle Mora, and Holden Powell would combine to close out the game without allowing a run, resulting in the final score of 6-1.
Cal State Fullerton
By its own lofty standards, Cal State Fullerton is having an off-year. But it’s not the bats that are the problem for CSUF.
The 2019 team can hit, as evidenced by the team’s .282 batting average. Senior outfielder Mitchell Berryhill is third in the nation in batting average, hitting an awesome .437. Three other everyday starters maintain batting averages over .300 and all of the remaining starters—except for one—are hitting over .250.
The good news for UCLA is that CSUF doesn’t hit many home runs, totaling only 15 in 25 games played. UCLA, by comparison, has 26 homers in 2019.
No, despite the dearth of home runs, the Titans’ problems have nothing to do with hitting the baseball. The problem is the pitching.
As a staff, the Titans’ ERA is 5.09. Aside from reliever Dillon Brown and Friday starter Tanner Bibbee, all of the other pitchers on the staff who have thrown meaningful innings (i.e., more than six) have earned runs averages of 4.76 or higher. That is not a recipe for success, no matter how well you hit the ball.
Tonight’s starting pitcher for the Titans, Joe Magrisi (0-1, 6.30 ERA), is a true freshman who has only started one game at the collegiate level. In his last appearance, Magrisi allowed two earned runs without recording an out at Southern Cal on April 9th.
The Bruins will counter will Jesse Bergin (4-0, 3.06 ERA), who has been exceptional this season in his freshman year, starting the season as the Sunday starter and making the transition to midweek starter when Ryan Garcia returned from injury.
Both teams can hit. The difference in this one (at least on paper) appears to be the starting pitching, with Magrisi only making the second start of his career and only having pitched a total of ten innings. Even if Head Coach Rick Vanderhook goes with the committee approach to this start, Bergin still has the edge, due to Fullerton’s high team ERA.
This is your UCLA vs. Cal State Fullerton midweek baseball open thread.