Baseball pushed to losers bracket after upset loss against Loyola Marymount
Redshirt junior right-hander Jack Ralston picked up his first loss of 2019 after pitching into the seventh and allowing three earned runs Saturday night against Loyola Marymount. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)
|No. 1 UCLA||2|
By Sam Connon
June 1, 2019 11:54 p.m.
The Bruins are going to have to take a slightly longer route to Omaha, Nebraska.
No. 1 seed UCLA baseball (48-9, 24-5 Pac-12) stranded eight men on base and went 0-for-7 with men in scoring position en route to a 3-2 loss to Loyola Marymount (34-23, 15-12 WCC) on Saturday. The Bruins will have to play Baylor in the championship game of the losers bracket Sunday at noon, something coach John Savage said was an oversight by the NCAA.
“Brutal schedule by the NCAA, awful,” Savage said. “You can’t play a (7 p.m.) game and come back at (12 p.m.) Now, it was going to be them or us, it happens to be us. I’d say the same thing if we won, OK? I don’t get it, I don’t understand it. ‘Oh, it’s TV,’ we get all that, but it’s unfair to the student-athlete.”
The Bruins stranded the bases loaded in the seventh after junior shortstop Ryan Kreidler flied out to the warning track in right, but they got another chance when junior second baseman Chase Strumpf and junior first baseman Michael Toglia drew walks and advanced into scoring position with one down in the eighth.
However, junior left fielder Jack Stronach and sophomore shortstop Kevin Kendall picked up back-to-back strikeouts to end the penultimate inning with LMU still holding onto a one-run lead. The LMU fan section along the first baseline was louder than it had been all night, but Kreidler said it was great to play a crosstown team regardless.
“We’re really excited about the atmosphere,” Kreidler said. “Getting to host the regional is a really special thing and we earned the right to do that. To be able to play a crosstown team like LMU is a awesome opportunity, so we were glad they brought their fans. Like (Savage) said, it was a great atmosphere for baseball.”
The Lions got on the board first, scoring in the bottom of the opening frame. An infield single, hit batter and walk loaded the bases for redshirt junior right-hander Jack Ralston before he was able to record an out, and right fielder Trevin Esquerra capitalized with a sacrifice fly to put LMU up 1-0.
Ralston responded by escaping the jam without any further damage, going on to strike out 10 Lions over the next 5 2/3 innings.
Savage pulled Ralston after 6 1/3 innings and 108 pitches. At the time, he allowed seven hits and two earned runs and would eventually pick up his first loss of the season.
“(Ralston) is pretty good, that guy was 11-0,” said LMU coach Jason Gill. “So I was pretty stoked we scored one.”
Ralston’s third earned run came across after Savage gave him the hook. On redshirt senior right-hander Nathan Hadley’s first pitch of the night, catcher Cooper Uhl hit a go-ahead single to right to give the Lions a 3-2 lead they would hold onto for the rest of the game.
Hadley escaped the inning without allowing another run, but the Bruins were still down 3-2 heading into the top of the eighth. Junior eighth-inning man Kyle Mora held the Lions off the board the next inning, but sophomore All-Conference closer Holden Powell did not get to make the trip out to the mound after UCLA’s offense was unable to force the bottom of the ninth.
The Bruins will have to take the field on the early end tomorrow with first pitch against the Bears at noon. UCLA has already spent its extra life and will have to win three straight games in order to move on to the Super Regionals.
“This is a blow for sure, but there’s a lot of baseball left,” Savage said. “We’ll come out tomorrow and get after it.”