Trevor Bauer was the biggest star on the field, but he got one-upped by a 20-year-old.
No. 5 UCLA baseball bested its alumni team 7-1 in the annual Alumni Game on Saturday behind four scoreless innings by sophomore starting pitcher Zach Pettway. Although he was going head-to-head with an MLB All-Star, Pettway allowed one fewer run than his counterpart.
Bauer didn’t seem to mind.
After Bauer was pulled five innings in, he went to the stands to sit with his parents for the remainder of the game. The Cleveland Indians righty was approached by dozens of fans, young and old, to take selfies, sign balls and teach a pitching lesson or two.
Even though Bauer wasn’t around in the dugout for the second half of the game, coach John Savage said he was happy Bauer was able to put the alumni on his back.
“We were just trying to get through nine innings on the other side,” Savage said. “(Bauer) saved us by going five.”
Freshman outfielder Matt McLain was also glad Bauer was there.
“That was awesome, you can only wish for that,” McLain said. “(Bauer is) one of the best pitchers in the world right now and to go up against him is amazing.”
But while one of UCLA’s newest players said he was happy to play against MLB talent, junior outfielder Jeremy Ydens was more focused on the familiar faces.
“(Right-handed pitcher Jake Bird) is a legend here,” Ydens said. “We haven’t got to see (Bird, catcher Daniel Rosica and center fielder Daniel Amaral) a whole lot the last couple months, so I’ll especially get to say hi to them and connect back with them.”
McLain got the start in center field, even though he was taken in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft as a shortstop. He’ll spend time with Ydens and sophomore Garrett Mitchell in the outfield this season – with sophomore Kevin Kendall holding down the starting shortstop position – but the Bruins’ eldest starting outfielder made sure to catch up with his last center fielder.
“It was … nice to see (Amaral),” Ydens said. “(I was) just kind of reminiscing of playing with him – him in center, me in left last year – so yeah, we caught up a little bit.”
Ydens said he and Amaral took a class together in the fall when the latter returned to Westwood to finish his degree.
It was an uneventful day at the plate for Ydens, but he made noise in the outfield after making a diving catch in the first inning, robbing a home run in the fourth, and starting a relay that would result in the alumni getting gunned down at the plate in the fifth.
Assistant coach and former Bruin closer David Berg had to pitch the ninth for the alumni when their bullpen was starting to look thin. Berg was one of four coaches to play in the game, and McLain said it was fun to play against them and the rest of the alumni.
“It was awesome to get out there and compete against a lot of the guys who started this program and the tradition it has,” McLain said. “I’ve heard amazing stories of (Berg) and to watch him pitch was cool.”