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No. 1 baseball returns home to face top-ranked UC Irvine

Freshman right-hander Jesse Bergin has a 3.00 ERA with a perfect 3-0 record this season. After starting the year as UCLA baseball’s Sunday starter, Bergin has now slid into the Tuesday spot following the return of junior right-hander Ryan Garcia. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

Baseball


No. 18 UC Irvine
Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
No TV info

By Matthew Kenney

April 9, 2019 12:02 a.m.

For the first time this season, the Bruins will face back-to-back ranked opponents.

No. 1 UCLA baseball (23-6, 9-3 Pac-12) will return home to face No. 18 UC Irvine (21-5, 5-1 Big West) on Tuesday after clinching a road series win against then-No. 2 Stanford this past weekend.

The Bruins have just one day of rest before they play the Anteaters, who have won 13 of their last 14 games to move up the national rankings and take the top spot in the Big West Conference.

While UCLA is undefeated on Tuesdays this season, the team has yet to play a ranked team in five midweek games. The Bruins are 6-3 overall against teams currently in the top 25.

Coach John Savage said Tuesday’s game should provide a tremendous challenge for the Bruins.

“Irvine’s been playing really well from the beginning of the season, and has been a very good program for several years,” Savage said. “This year, they clearly look like one of the elite teams in the Big West.”

UC Irvine took down UCLA 8-1 at Jackie Robinson Stadium last season, but the Bruins blew out the Anteaters 12-0 on the road to return the favor. Junior first baseman Michael Toglia reached base five times and drove in a pair of runs in UCLA’s win.

Toglia started this season 7-for-43, but has raised his batting average by over 100 points and has driven in 17 runs over his past 10 games.

“(UC Irvine) always seems to grind out a good game against everyone they play, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Toglia said.

For the Anteaters’ offense, a key addition this year has been third baseman Brandon Lewis, who transferred from L.A. Pierce College this fall. Over UC Irvine’s last 14 games, Lewis is batting .396 and has driven in 22 runs to help the Anteaters score 8.1 runs per game.

Lewis and UC Irvine’s lineup will go up against a UCLA pitching staff that has posted a 1.60 ERA with 55 strikeouts in Tuesday games.

Freshman right-hander Jesse Bergin has recently moved to fourth in the rotation and will make his third straight Tuesday start against the Anteaters. In his recent appearance, Bergin allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings and struck out eight as the Bruins took down CSUN 10-1 on April 2.

“(Bergin has) been great for us so far,” said right-hander Ryan Garcia. “We’re hoping that he’ll just keep the ball rolling and get the momentum going for us going into this next weekend series.”

First pitch will be at 6:00 p.m on Tuesday.

 

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Matthew Kenney | Alumnus
Kenney joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the baseball, softball, men's soccer, women's soccer, track and field and cross country beats.
Kenney joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the baseball, softball, men's soccer, women's soccer, track and field and cross country beats.
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