The Bruins have scored at least double-digit runs in a game for the 10th time this season.
No. 1 UCLA baseball (45-8, 22-5 Pac-12) completed its sixth sweep of the season, defeating Washington (28-22, 12-15) 14-2 on Sunday’s Senior Day. With three games left in the regular season, the Bruins have a 1.5 game lead over No. 3 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State in the Pac-12.
“It’s already postseason play,” said sophomore right fielder Garrett Mitchell. “It’s important to win every pitch, every at-bat, and we did that this weekend.”
UCLA got off to a quick start on offense, scoring five runs in the first inning. Junior shortstop Ryan Kreidler opened the floodgates by driving the first pitch he saw over the wall for his seventh home run of the year.
Junior second baseman Chase Strumpf and junior first baseman Michael Toglia both reached base on a walk and single, respectively, setting up junior outfielder Jack Stronach for an RBI single. Junior right fielder Jeremy Ydens would extend the Bruins’ lead to five with a three-run home run just above the glove of center fielder Mason Cerrilo.
“We were fortunate to get that five,” said coach John Savage. “I think offensively, we had a much better approach.”
The Huskies came back with two runs of their own in the second, forcing freshman right-hander Jesse Bergin to exit the game. This was Bergin’s shortest stint of the season and the bullpen’s eight innings was its most in a game this year.
“He couldn’t get anybody out in the second inning,” Savage said. “We had a five-run lead and I felt like we needed a change. (Sophomore right-hander) Michael Townsend is a long reliever and was fantastic. I was happy for (Townsend). He really picked us up.”
The Bruins tacked two more runs on the board in the fourth thanks to an RBI triple by Mitchell, who scored when Kreidler doubled to right. It was Mitchell’s fourth triple of the series and third consecutive game with a triple.
“It seems like he hits a triple every at-bat,” Kreidler said. “So it makes my job a lot easier. I can hit sac flies and it kind of opens up the field for me. That kid’s gotten a lot better and he hasn’t really tapped into his potential yet.”
Mitchell would contribute to another two runs in the fifth with a two-run home run that sailed over the wall and landed on the roof of the Jack and Rhodine Gifford Hitting Facility in right field. In the seventh, Kreidler hit a two-run homer – his second of the game – and Toglia also joined the home run party, launching a solo shot well over the right-field fence.
Ydens added to the lead by hitting his second home run of the game in the eighth inning. He finished the game going 3-for-5, leading the team with five RBIs on the afternoon.
“It’s good to see (Ydens), you know, he’s getting back into some things and swung the bat good today,” Savage said. “It was a good day offensively for sure.”
UCLA’s six home runs Sunday was the second most in a game this year behind the 18-3 win over Arizona State. The Bruins have now hit 23 home runs in their last 11 games.
Sunday’s win also extended the Bruins’ winning streak to eight games, tying their season high. UCLA has followed up each of its last three losses with eight-plus-game winning streaks.
“I feel like this team’s done a great job taking it day-to-day and inning-to-inning,” Kreidler said. “It’s a lot easier said than done. But on a day like today where we already had the series, I think we did a good job of coming out and being ourselves.”
Sunday’s game honored the graduating senior class compromised of designated hitter Jake Pries, third baseman Jake Hirabayashi and redshirt right-hander Nathan Hadley, who all played in the series finale.
“I love our seniors,” Savage said. “I can’t say enough about their leadership, their communication, their work ethic and their messages to the team. It says a lot about their character and they’re true Bruins.”
UCLA will head on the road to Oregon for the final Pac-12 series of the season starting Thursday at 6 p.m.