Monday, February 24

Baseball continues strong start with win over Cal State Fullerton

Senior designated hitter Jake Pries hit his fifth home run of 2019 Tuesday night against Cal State Fullerton. Pries had three home runs in his first three seasons with UCLA baseball, and his 33 hits, three triples and 29 RBIs are all career highs. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)


No. 1 UCLA8
Cal State Fullerton3

The Bruins are off to their best start in the John Savage era.

No. 1 UCLA baseball (31-7, 11-4 Pac-12) defeated Cal State Fullerton (16-20, 4-5 Big West) 8-3 on Tuesday night to remain perfect in midweek games. The victory marks the best 38-game start in coach John Savage’s tenure, surpassing the 2010 team that finished as the runner-up in the College World Series.

The Bruins’ offense put up at least one run in every inning after the third, starting with a two-run home run in the fourth by senior designated hitter Jake Pries. He followed that up with a bases-loaded walk in the next frame to plate junior second baseman Chase Strumpf and increased the UCLA lead to 3-0.

Pries said the team’s continuous offensive production is reflective of the lineup’s depth.

“It shows that we got some depth,” Pries said. “Our depth has made everyone better, so that is definitely an aspect of our team that is a positive.”

Sophomore right fielder Garrett Mitchell hit a two-run home run of his own in the sixth to give the Bruins a 5-0 advantage. After the Titans scored twice in the bottom of the sixth, sophomore shortstop Kevin Kendall grounded into a double-play that was still able to bring in UCLA’s sixth run of the night.

Strumpf singled through the left side to bring home Mitchell in the eighth and sophomore third baseman Jake Hirabayashi smacked an RBI double to left center in the ninth for the Bruins’ seventh and eighth runs, respectively.

Freshman right-hander Jesse Bergin made his fifth consecutive midweek start and limited the Titans to three hits and no runs through five innings of work. Bergin was pulled, however, after walking the first batter he faced in the sixth.

Bergin’s fellow freshman right-hander Jack Filby entered the game and let up an RBI double to put the Titans on the board. Bergin was held responsible for the run, ending his night with one earned run, three hits, three walks and three strikeouts.

Bergin said every part of the team helped him pick up his fifth win of the year.

“Coach Savage does a great job of scouting teams ahead of time, which allows the entire pitching staff to trust him,” Bergin said. “Our offense was doing their thing. … (The) defense made some big plays. It was a solid team effort all around today.”

The Bruins put in sophomore right-hander Michael Townsend for their third pitcher of the sixth after Filby allowed a walk and single to load the bases with one out. The Titans scored their second run off a sac fly, but Townsend escaped the jam with an infield pop-up.

Redshirt senior right-hander Nate Hadley sat down the Titans in order in the seventh, and junior right-hander Kyle Mora allowed one hit and recorded three strikeouts in the eighth.

Sophomore right-hander Holden Powell struck out designated hitter Sahid Valenzuela for the final out of the game, but the ball got past freshman catcher Noah Cardenas, allowing Valenzuela to reach first and the runner on third to score. Powell retired the next batter to secure the win.

The Bruins will return to Jackie Robinson Stadium for a weekend series against the Utah Utes starting Friday at 6 p.m.

Sports contributor

Venable is currently a contributor on the baseball beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's water polo beat.

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