The Bruins did something Tuesday they hadn’t done all year.
Fresh off a series win over No. 2 Stanford, No. 17 UCLA baseball (19-9, 8-4 Pac-12) was upset by unranked Long Beach State (13-20) 5-2. The loss marked the first time all season the Bruins were defeated in a midweek matchup, a far cry from their 8.5 run average margin of victory in midweek games.
The Prospectors teed off redshirt sophomore starting pitcher Jack Ralston, scoring three runs in the first two innings. Ralston got the hook after just one and 1/3 innings after allowing an RBI triple, an RBI single and an RBI fielder’s choice.
Ralston was replaced by sophomore left Nick Scheidler, who carried the Bruins into the seventh inning without allowing a run. The long reliever allowed just four batters on base out of the 17 he faced, striking out four.
“I’m glad that coach has confidence in me to go out there for multiple innings,” Scheidler said. “They have a pretty lefty-heavy lineup … so I got my mind right before the game and was ready to go when my name was called.”
The 57-pitch outing was tied for Scheidler’s longest of the year, matching his 57-pitch performance Saturday against Stanford. Prior to that appearance, Scheidler’s ERA was 1.32, but the five earned runs raised his ERA to 3.86. His 4 and 2/3 scoreless innings dropped that mark back down to 3.00, sixth best among Bruin relievers.
After starting in a 3-0 hole, UCLA cut the gap to one run in the top of the third. With sophomore center fielder Jeremy Ydens on first, sophomore second baseman Chase Strumpf pulled a two-run home run to left for his team-leading eighth homer this season.
“I’m seeing the ball pretty well right now,” Strumpf said. “I’ve been getting some pretty good pitches to hit, so I guess I’m just getting the barrel to the ball and seeing what happens.”
Other than Strumpf, only sophomore first baseman Michael Toglia has more than two home runs this year for the Bruins. Coach John Savage said the lack of power is not an issue, and that his team just needs to play to their identity.
“Everybody has different types of games, not everyone has power,” Savage said. “The guys that have power need to show power, and those guys are doing a good job of doing that.”
In the top of the seventh, redshirt junior Nathan Hadley relieved Scheidler. Hadley was only able to record one out before he was pulled after loading the bases.
Redshirt junior left-hander Garrett Barker, who entered with a 1.04 ERA this season, was brought in to get UCLA out of the jam. He was unable to escape unscathed, as Long Beach State extended its lead to 3 with a two-RBI single to left field.
Despite allowing the Prospectors to build on their lead late in the game, the Bruins still have faith in their bullpen.
“We need them,” Strumpf said. “They’re a big part of this team, and if they just get up there and trust our defense, I think we’ll be in a good spot.”
The Bruins failed to register a hit in the final six innings of the game. As a team, they were a combined 0-for-10 with two outs, and just 2-for-12 with runners on. Ydens and Strumpf ended the game as the only Bruins who were able to get hits.
“They outcompeted us and they did a better job than we did,” Savage said. “When you get three hits, it’s hard to win a game.”
UCLA will have a chance to regain its momentum in conference play this weekend on the road against Utah. The first game of the series starts Friday at 5 p.m., with senior sinkerballer Jake Bird expected to take the mound.