UCLA baseball shows promise for 2018 season in alumni game
Sophomore first baseman Michael Toglia led the 2018 Bruins to 5-3 victory over the UCLA alumni squad in an exhibition at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Saturday. The former outfielder drove in three of the team’s five runs. (Isabelle Roy/Daily Bruin senior staff)
January 29, 2018 10:41 pm
Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer got the start for the UCLA alumni team Saturday – and the 2018 Bruins capitalized.
The current team topped the Bruin alumni 5-3, scoring 3 runs on 4 hits off the major leaguer in his four innings pitched.
“For a lot of people, that might be their only chance to face someone in the bigs,” said sophomore first baseman Michael Toglia. “I was just trying to enjoy it and get the most out of it as I could.”
Toglia led the 2018 team with 3 hits and 3 RBIs. After a slow start to the 2017 season, Toglia finished with a .261 batting average, recording 8 home runs and 33 RBIs on the year.
“It’s a big feel thing,” Toglia said. “Once the first one comes, they kind of come in clusters. The biggest thing is trying to just get it going.”
Senior pitcher Jake Bird was the starter for the 2018 Bruins. He pitched four innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 1 strikeout.
“It’s a cool experience,” Bird said. “I got to pitch against (Bauer) and throw against some big-league hitters. It gives me a little taste of hopefully what I’m doing in a few years.”
The 2018 Bruins got the scoring started when junior center fielder Daniel Amaral led off the first inning with a walk. He then stole second and would later score on an RBI groundout by Toglia to give the Bruins an early lead.
The alumni answered with a 2-run home run in the second inning by Brett Stephens, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2017.
The 2018 Bruins tied it up in the third off a double from Toglia who brought home Amaral from second. They later took the lead in the fourth as sophomore left fielder Jeremy Ydens, who led off with a single, scored on a throwing error.
UCLA increased its lead in the seventh inning as Toglia hit another double to plate junior second baseman Jake Hirabayashi, who had been walked. Toglia then scored on a single by sophomore third baseman Kyle Cuellar to give the Bruins a 3-run lead.
The alumni scored their final run on a solo home run from Pat Valaika, who is also a member of the Rockies.
Multiple sets of brothers reclaimed their seats in the Bruin dugout as Pat and Nick Valaika played together as alumni, while current and former Bruins Daniel and Beau Amaral faced off.
“(There is) a lot of heritage and tradition in Bruin baseball and it was fun to see it,” said coach John Savage.
It is only the beginning for the 2018 Bruins, who start their season Feb. 16 at home against Portland.
“I think we’ll be better by the time season starts,” Bird said. “We’re really good defensively and can hit the ball off major leaguers like that, so I think we’re a good all-around team and it’s a good preview of what’s to come.”