UCLA got on base 21 times despite zero combined hits from its two leading hitters.
“We’re getting a lot of contribution from a lot different areas,” said coach John Savage. “That’s a sign of a good team. Stretching that lineup as long as you can.”
Sophomore first baseman Michael Toglia and sophomore second baseman Chase Strumpf both went 0-for-4 on the day, but the No. 11 Bruins (10-2) were able to defeat the Loyola Marymount Lions (3-10) 12-1 on Tuesday night at the Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Loyola Marymount started southpaw Holden Christian, who pitched 2 2/3 innings with 67 pitches – 4.79 pitches per batter faced.
The Bruin bats were able to tally 6 runs with a .643 slugging percentage after three innings, giving them a comfortable 5-run lead that would remain for the next 3 2/3 innings.
After four innings, UCLA had forced 101 pitches out of Loyola Marymount’s pitching staff, good for an average of 4.39 pitches per batter.
“(Our patience) has improved a lot from last year,” Toglia said. “We’ve definitely made a bigger jump in this year’s approach in staying on pitches and being disciplined at the same time.”
Outfielder sophomore Jeremy Ydens earned UCLA’s 4th run by singling, advancing to second on a wild pitch, stealing third and scoring on a sacrifice fly from Strumpf.
“We’ve really tried to be disciplined with our strike zone,” Ydens said. “We’ve worked on that a lot this year and this past fall to really swing at strikes and take balls and be patient at our at-bats.”
Ydens finished the night 3-for-5 with 2 runs and two RBIs. He made his mark defensively as well, making an acrobatic catch as he slammed into the right-field wall in the fourth.
Jack Stronach made his first start of the year as designated hitter, replacing the usual starter junior Jake Pries. The sophomore finished the night 2-for-4 with three RBIs and 2 runs.
Junior center fielder Daniel Amaral saw six at-bats and punched in two RBIs, while junior third baseman Jake Hirabayashi hit 3-for-4 with two doubles and 3 runs.
“Five doubles on a night game here is pretty impressive,” Savage said. ‘We’re just getting a lot of guys contributing. Amaral had a pretty good night, Ydens, Hirabayashi. It’s good to see.”
Righty Ryan Garcia started on the mound for the Bruins. The sophomore threw a career-high nine strikeouts over six frames in his third start for UCLA, dropping his ERA to .145. He allowed two hits, one walk and 1 run, riding the momentum of his first two Tuesday starts in which he held his opponents to a total of six hits, three walks and 1 run through 10 2/3 innings.
“Gosh, he’s been good,” Savage said. “He just commanded it. He’s a different guy right now. He’s grown up a little bit, and he appears to have taken the next step. We’re 3-0 on Tuesday’s and that’s a big deal.”
Garcia allowed Loyola Marymount’s only run in the third inning – a line drive double to right field that eventually was batted home by a single. UCLA’s bullpen pitched three shutout innings with just two hits allowed.
UCLA will head to Dodger Stadium for a weekend slate featuring No. 8 Texas Christian, No. 15 Vanderbilt and USC.