It took them until the seventh inning, but the Bruins finally got on the board.
No. 1 UCLA baseball (28-6, 9-3 Pac-12) defeated Pepperdine (17-15, 8-7 West Coast Conference) 3-2 after a three-run seventh and six innings of a two-run ball from freshman right-hander Jesse Bergin.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the seventh, UCLA’s rally began when redshirt sophomore outfielder Jarron Silva pinch-hit and reached base on a throwing error by third baseman Aharon Modlin. A single by freshman catcher Noah Cardenas and walk by sophomore right fielder Garrett Mitchell loaded the bases for junior third baseman Ryan Kreidler.
Kreidler drove in the first run of the game for the Bruins on a groundout to the right side of the infield. Junior second baseman Chase Strumpf capped off the inning with a two-run single that put UCLA ahead.
“We were struggling to score throughout the game, not really having quality at-bats,” Strumpf said. “We finally realized it was a team effort – it wasn’t going to be one guy that did it. It felt good to string together those at-bats and get back to being the team we usually are.”
The Waves took an early 1-0 lead after Bergin surrendered back-to-back singles to start the game. The Bruins turned a double play to put a man at third with two outs, but left fielder Matthew Kanfer drove in the lead runner with a single up the middle.
UCLA came close to tying the game twice with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the third. Making his first start of the season, freshman designated hitter Jack Filby launched a towering fly ball to right that was caught at the warning track. Mitchell followed it up with a line drive that the center fielder tracked down at the wall.
The Waves made it 2-0 in the top of the fifth after catcher Joe Caparis hit a ball over Strumpf’s outstretched glove to reach first. Caparis scored on a double into the right-center gap from shortstop Quincy McAfee.
A wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth put runners at second and third for junior first baseman Michael Toglia – the team leader in RBIs. However, Toglia and sophomore shortstop Kevin Kendall both struck out to strand the runners.
“I thought we really lacked quality at-bats overall,” said coach John Savage. “We did enough in the seventh inning, but hopefully we can learn from this and get better from it.”
Following the seventh inning rally, junior right-hander Kyle Mora stepped in to pitch the top of the eighth. With two outs in the inning, center fielder Cory Wills ripped a ball into the right field corner and he tried to extend it for a triple, but a relay from Mitchell to Strumpf to Kreidler got the ball to third before him.
Sophmore right-hander Holden Powell pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the game and record his 11th save of the season.
For Bergin, it was his third quality start of the year and first time going six innings since March 3. He surrendered a season-high eight hits, but walked none and struck out eight.
“Obviously, it wasn’t one of our best offensive days,” Bergin said. “The team is just about picking each other up. I was just trying to go as long as I could to give my team a chance.”
UCLA has now won seven games in a row and will play Utah in a three-game series this weekend.