Behind the Score:
UCLA's record in midweek games
Regular season games remaining
The more an opposing team knows about No. 9 UCLA baseball’s statistics this year, the worse they’re going to feel about its chances going into a game against them, especially when that game falls on a Tuesday.
The Bruins entered Tuesday night’s game against the UC Irvine Anteaters undefeated in midweek games and were able to secure their 11th straight Tuesday victory thanks to strong offensive production from the middle of their lineup.
Junior catcher Tyler Heineman and sophomore shortstop Pat Valaika returned to the field after missing UCLA’s previous three games at California and made an immediate offensive impact.
The Bruins (39-14, 17-10 Pac-12) had an uncharacteristically quick start, scoring three runs in the first inning.
Valaika had an RBI single to left field in the first and added another to center field in the eighth inning.
“It felt good to get back in the saddle,” Valaika said. The defensive stopper was glad to see his teammates have success at the plate early on.
“(Junior outfielder) Beau (Amaral) had a great at-bat to start the game off. … Even though we had two outs, we were able to get the next guy to the plate and score three,” Valaika said.
Heineman also showed no indication of rust, going 2-for-4 at the plate and scoring off of a first inning double by junior Trevor Brown, who started Tuesday’s game at second base filling in for sophomore Kevin Williams who is suffering from a knee injury.
Heineman was upset about missing the weekend series and plans to work overtime to make up for lost ground.
“I guess if you take the good out, the rest helped a little bit, but I’ve got to get back into it and get ready for the weekend,” Heineman said.
Freshman Grant Watson improved to 9-2 and 6-0 in midweek games.
Watson, a major factor in UCLA’s midweek success, faced 24 batters and allowed five hits and just one run in six innings pitched.
UCLA’s lead dropped to two runs in the third inning when Irvine’s Chris Rabago homered to left field.
Irvine was neutalized by freshman reliever David Berg who appeared in his 40th game for UCLA this season.
“Berg’s been phenomenal. He’s an everyday guy. … Today the eight inning was his, it’s usually the seventh inning but he stepped up,” said coach John Savage.