Sunday, February 23

Baseball boasts bounty of Pac-12 awards as regular season comes to a close

No. 1 seed UCLA baseball reeled in 11 regular season Pac-12 awards ahead of this weekend’s NCAA regional. Junior right-hander Ryan Garcia won Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. (Anirudh Keni/Daily Bruin)

The Bruins followed up a record-breaking regular season with a record-breaking Pac-12 awards campaign.

No. 1 seed UCLA baseball (47-8, 24-5 Pac-12) reeled in a program-record eight All-Pac-12 team members Wednesday, as well as a Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year award for junior right-hander Ryan Garcia and a Pac-12 Coach of the Year award for coach John Savage.

Juniors second baseman Chase Strumpf and first baseman Michael Toglia were both named to their second career All-Conference teams. Garcia, junior infielder Jack Stronach, redshirt junior right-hander Jack Ralston, junior infielder Ryan Kreidler, sophomore outfielder Garrett Mitchell and sophomore right-hander Holden Powell all earned the honor for the first time.

Mitchell was also named to the All-Defensive Team and freshman catcher Noah Cardenas earned an honorable mention. Redshirt senior right-hander Nathan Hadley was an honorable mention for the All-Conference Team.

Toglia and Kreidler were both honorable mentions for the All-Conference Team in 2017 before the former was named to the team in 2018. This year, the two led a group of six juniors who earned the distinction.

Toglia saw his batting average drop from .336 to .315 this season, but he hit a career-high 14 home runs and notched a career-high .620 slugging percentage.

Kreidler’s 17 doubles and eight home runs were more than he had in his previous two seasons combined, and his .314 batting average was a career-high as well.

Strumpf joined Toglia as the Bruins’ other back-to-back All-Conference Team member. Strumpf – who was named the top second baseman eligible for the 2019 MLB Draft by MLB Pipeline last week – failed to match his 2018 marks in nearly every offensive category, but he did post an on-base plus slugging percentage of .883.

Garcia became the third Bruin to win Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year after posting a conference-low 1.42 ERA and a perfect 9-0 record. The last UCLA pitcher to win the award was David Berg – who earned the title in 2013 and 2015 and joined the team’s staff as a pitching coach this past winter.

Trevor Bauer won the award in 2011 and earned the Golden Spikes Award for national player of the year in the same season. Garcia was one of the 25 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award this season, but was not named one of the four finalists Wednesday.

This year also marks the third straight season UCLA has boasted a member of the All-Defensive Team. Mitchell did not record a single error and picked up one outfield assist this spring, also earning a spot on the All-Conference Team by hitting .360.

Powell was a Freshman All-American in 2018 and led the conference in saves this year. Stronach picked up his first Pac-12 honor after hitting .331 and setting career-highs in nearly every offensive category.

The last time Savage won the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award was in 2015 after the Bruins won the Pac-12 regular season title and hosted an NCAA regional. UCLA achieved both feats again this season.

The Bruins will turn from the regular season to the postseason this weekend in the Los Angeles Regional, with their first pitch at 7 p.m. against Omaha on Friday.

Sports editor

Connon is the Sports editor and a reporter on the football and men's basketball beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's golf and cross country beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats. Connon also currently contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment. Connon is a third-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.

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