Baseball aims to shine brighter than CSUN, break three-year road loss streak
Freshman right-hander Nick Nastrini will take the mound on the road against CSUN on Tuesday afternoon. Nastrini threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his first career start against Loyola Marymount last week. (Isabelle Roy/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Tuesday, 2 p.m.
CSUN Live Stream
February 25, 2019 11:54 pm
The Matadors have given the Bruins trouble on the road.
No. 4 UCLA baseball (6-1) will play CSUN (5-3) on Tuesday with a chance to win its first road game against the team since 2015.
In six meetings between the two teams in the past three years, the Bruins have gone just 4-2, including three straight road losses. Last season, UCLA defeated CSUN at home 15-2, but lost 4-3 on the road.
Both teams are coming off series wins, with UCLA taking two of three at Georgia Tech and CSUN winning three of four at home against Gonzaga.
UCLA lost the first game of the weekend series 4-3 in extra innings, but bounced back to win the next two games by a combined 12 runs.
“It shows how competitive and how strong our team is,” said freshman center fielder Matt McLain. “To come out the next day and compete the way we did, I thought was a really good sign for our team.”
Similarly, CSUN lost its first game against Gonzaga 10-8 in extra innings, but then took the next three games of the series.
Coach John Savage said the Matadors have proven to be a formidable opponent in recent years.
“Coach (Greg Moore) has done a really good job with that program,” Savage said. “They’ve been very competitive the past couple of years. We just need to get back home, get a practice in and be ready to face them on Tuesday.”
The Bruins received key contributions this weekend from a pair of freshmen, McLain and right-hander Jesse Bergin. McLain went 4-for-11 in the series and hit the first home run and double of his collegiate career, while Bergin tossed six shutout innings to earn his second win in as many tries.
UCLA will turn to another freshman Tuesday – right-hander Nick Nastrini. In his first collegiate start Feb. 19, Nastrini pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings while striking out nine.
Bergin said he and Nastrini have built a bond as first-year starters.
“We’ve gotten a lot closer throughout the year,” Bergin said. “It’s really fun having another freshman pitcher who’s also a starter. It’s kind of like we’re in this together. We’ll spend time after practices and it’s just us two. It’s just really fun working with him.”
Nastrini will face a Matador lineup that has scored 22 runs in its past two games. CSUN’s offense has gotten contributions from freshmen such as right fielder Andrew Lucas, who went 3-4 on Sunday with a home run and double.
Savage said the Bruins are using these early road games for development first and foremost.
“We just need to keep on building our identity as a team,” Savage said. “I think this game against CSUN will be another good test for us.”
First pitch will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday.