Pitchers fill in gap left by injured starter to shut out Long Beach State 2-0
Sophomore right-fielder Garrett Mitchell launched his first career home run Tuesday against Long Beach State. Mitchell posted a .668 on-base plus slugging percentage last season, but he has raised that mark to .892 in 2019. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)
By Zack Venable
March 13, 2019 1:04 pm
The Bruins’ pitching staff rallied together after losing its starter.
No. 2 UCLA baseball (12-3) used a season-high-tying seven pitchers to shut out Long Beach State (2-13) 2-0 on the road Tuesday night. The presumed starter, freshman right-hander Nick Nastrini, was ruled out for the season earlier in the day with thoracic outlet syndrome.
“One thing that we always say is ‘pass the baton’ or ‘get the next Bruin up,'” said sophomore right-fielder Garrett Mitchell. “The fact is there’s nothing else we can do besides rally around him and support him, as well as have other guys step up and be ready to go.”
Junior right-hander Ryan Garcia was the first Bruin pitcher to take the mound as he made his first start of the year. Garcia came into the season as the projected ace of the pitching staff, but didn’t make his season debut until Saturday against Oklahoma State due to a flexor injury.
Garcia threw 30 pitches across two innings with one strikeout, one walk and one hit allowed. The righty said it was the plan to last that long in his second appearance of the season.
“Having my first outing on Saturday, the whole plan was throwing one inning (against Oklahoma State),” Garcia said. “We’re just slowly building back up to get in better starting shape.”
Freshman right-hander Sean Mullen also made his second appearance on the year after facing two batters in his debut Feb. 19 against Loyola Marymount. The freshman allowed two hits across the third and fourth innings, but started the fifth giving up a walk and hit. Sophomore right-hander Michael Townsend came in to get the final two outs of the inning and preserve the shutout.
UCLA sent out right-handers freshman Jack Filby, redshirt senior Nathan Hadley, junior Kyle Mora and sophomore Holden Powell for one inning each to close out the game. The Bruins replicated the final four innings of their win against the Trojans on Sunday, in which the same four pitchers threw one inning each to maintain their lead.
Coach John Savage said the bullpen’s diversity and depth has led to its success throughout the year.
“There’s a lot of different looks (from the bullpen),” Savage said. “They’re versatile (and) can get both right- and left-handed hitters out. … It’s been pretty impressive.”
On the offensive side, the Bruins produced four hits against the Dirtbags – but they made them count.
Mitchell, batting leadoff for the second game in a row, shot his first career home run over the right-field wall to begin the game. The Bruins didn’t record another hit until the sophomore came up again in the top of the fifth inning with runners on second and third.
An infield single by Mitchell plated junior left-fielder Jack Stronach to give UCLA a 2-0 lead.
Mitchell led the Bruins with two hits and two RBIs, bringing his batting average to .333 on the year.
UCLA will open its Pac-12 schedule against No. 3 Oregon State (13-1-1) in a weekend series starting Friday at 6 p.m.