Baseball capitalizes on early lead to take down Loyola Marymount 9-4
Senior outfielder Jake Pries launched UCLA baseball’s first grand slam of the season Tuesday against LMU. Pries is now hitting .290 with 14 RBIs. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)
|No. 1 UCLA||9|
March 27, 2019 5:50 p.m.
The Bruins got off to their hottest start of the year Tuesday.
No. 1 UCLA baseball (18-4, 5-1 Pac-12) down LMU (15-9, 5-1) 9-4 on the back of a six-run first inning, its highest scoring opening frame of the year. The win pushed the Bruins’ winning streak to five games, matching their longest streak of the season.
The top of the first saw UCLA bat around the order and cycle through three LMU pitchers. Senior designated hitter Jake Pries drove in the first four runs with a homer over the left field wall, the first grand slam of the year for the Bruins.
“I was looking for a pitch up, and the pitcher threw me a couple of fastballs up, so it was the right approach for that at-bat,” Pries said.
A single by junior first baseman Michael Toglia forced the Lions to pull starter Nick Valdez with one out in the first. The Lions had to change pitchers again just four batters later, after an RBI single from senior third baseman Jake Hirabayashi and sacrifice fly from freshman catcher Noah Cardenas plated two more runs.
“It’s really helpful to get out to an early lead like that,” Pries said. “The ball travels better when the sun’s out, so in those first couple of innings it’s important to score.”
The Bruins put runners at the corners with the top of the order coming up in the third inning, but a rare call at the plate kept them from adding to their lead. The umpires called sophomore right fielder Garrett Mitchell out after inspecting his bat and finding that the barrel was loose.
UCLA once again put runners in scoring position in the next inning, and this time came through on a two-run single by Toglia. Toglia is now tied with freshman center fielder Matt McLain for the team lead in RBIs with 17.
On the mound, freshman right-hander Jesse Bergin allowed one run through his first four innings of work. However, he issued three walks to load the bases in the fifth, prompting coach John Savage to pull him from the game.
Freshman right-hander Jack Filby came in for Bergin and surrendered a two-run single to left fielder Kenny Oyama that put runners at the corners, but struck out the final batter to limit the damage.
UCLA and LMU traded runs in the eighth inning to push the final score to 9-4 on RBI doubles by junior second baseman Chase Strumpf and LMU right fielder Tommy Delgado, respectively.
The victory for the Bruins marked their ninth win in 10 games and seventh straight against the Lions. UCLA also pushed its Tuesday record to 4-0.
The Bruins will next play a three-game series at USC starting Friday at 7 p.m.