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UCLA Baseball Faces LMU Tonight with a Super Regional Berth on the Line

The winner of tonight’s contest will face the winner of the Corvallis Regional, which will be either Michigan or Creighton.

UCLA first baseman Michael Toglia hit home runs from both sides of the plate yesterday.
Scott Chandler/

After falling to Loyola Marymount on Saturday and finding themselves in the losers’ bracket of the Los Angeles Regional, the UCLA Bruins baseball team (50-9) knew that they would have to win two games on Sunday against Baylor and Loyola Marymount, respectively, just for the right to play the Lions a third time tonight.

Well, the Bruins completed a stellar Sunday doubleheader, knocking out the Bears in the afternoon by the score of 11-6 and, then, coming back out in the evening to beat the Lions (34-24) by the score of 6-1 to force a deciding game tonight. First pitch will be at 7 pm PT, right around the time UCLA softball should be finishing Game 1 of the Women’s College World Series Championship Series against Oklahoma. The game will be televised on ESPN2, “the Deuce.”

The Bruins got it done yesterday via the long ball, slugging seven home runs over the two games. Versus Baylor, the Bruins were aided by long bombs from Jake Pries, who hit a two-run shot in the first inning, Michael Toglia, who hit it from the left side of the plate onto the roof of the hitting facility past the right field fence, Noah Cardenas, who hit a solo blast to left, and Ryan Kreidler, who powered a two-run dinger to straightaway center. In the second game against LMU, it was Toglia again, this time from the right side of the plate, Chase Strumpf, who hit a three-run no-doubter to left, and Jeremy Ydens, who added a solo HR to left.

Of the seventeen runs UCLA scored yesterday, twelve came via the long ball. It was a far cry from Saturday’s game, when the Bruins couldn’t get the timely hit and were edged 3-2 by the Lions.

Now, the Bruins and the Lions will face off for the third time in the LA Regional and the fifth time this season. UCLA is 3-1 in the four games so far, but you can throw out the records tonight.

The winner of tonight’s game will move on to the Super Regionals to play the winner of the Michigan-Creighton game, which is also tonight. The loser of tonight’s game will pack their bags for the off-season.

In the second game yesterday, Head Coach John Savage pulled a rabbit out of his hat in the form of freshman starter Nick Nastrini, who hadn’t pitched since February. The right-hander paid dividends, throwing five innings and allowing only one run in the fifth, after UCLA had already built up a 5-0 lead.

What will Coach Savage do tonight? Will we see Friday ace Ryan Garcia on short rest? Or, maybe Jessie Bergin, who only pitched one inning yesterday against Baylor, but who gave up three runs and three hits in that performance? Or someone else? A college baseball team’s pitching staff gets pretty thin once you get to the fifth game in four days, even with a staff as talented as UCLA’s.

Loyola Marymount, although having played one less game than the Bruins in the regional, has a similar predicament. Who will take the hill for the Lions?

No matter what, each team will adopt an all-hands-on-deck approach as each fights to stay alive in the postseason.

There is one other thing that I can guarantee about this game. The mixture of UCLA and LMU fans at Jackie Robinson Stadium will be loud and raucous, as they have been all series. It has been quite the atmosphere at JRS. Get out there, Bruin fans, if you can!

Here’s to hoping that Bruins fans have more to cheer for than their LMU guests tonight.

This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Loyola Marymount Lions NCAA LA Regional Game Seven open thread.

Go Bruins!!!