UCLA baseball seizes victory against former Bruins in annual alumni game
Sophomore right-hander Nick Nastrini earned the starting nod in UCLA baseball’s annual alumni game, pitching four innings and allowing three earned runs. (Tanmay Shankar/Assistant Photo editor)
By Taiyo Keilin
Jan. 26, 2020 4:52 p.m.
This post was updated Jan. 27 at 12:46 a.m.
The Bruins kicked off a new decade with an annual tradition.
No. 14 UCLA baseball defeated its alumni team 4-3 in the annual alumni game Saturday, thanks to two out hits by redshirt junior outfielder Jordan Prendiz and freshman infielder Michael Curialle in a three-run fourth inning for the Bruins.
With the Bruins trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Prendiz slapped an RBI single to cut the deficit in half. Two batters later, Curialle sent a ball to the right-center field wall, scoring Prendiz and junior infielder Kevin Kendall. The Bruins never looked back and held on to the one-run lead for the remainder of the game.
The single in the fourth was not Prendiz’s only big hit in the game, as the lefty got the Bruins on the board in the bottom of the second with a two-out double, scoring sophomore infielder Mikey Perez from second base. Prendiz – who appeared in 31 games as a substitute in 2019 – said he was excited about his day at the plate and is looking forward to how the team will fare this season.
“I was just looking to help the team, looking to put a ball in play and make something happen,” Prendiz said. “We have a strong core of guys who played last year and have experience in the Pac-12. I’m just excited to go out there and compete.”
UCLA’s pitching was able to hold off the alumni after the Bruins’ go-ahead fourth inning. The Bruins allowed just three runs in the contest, all of which came on former Bruin Ryan Kreidler’s home run in the top of the third inning. Kreidler, who was named to the 2019 Pac-12 All Conference Team a season ago, was selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft by the Detroit Tigers.
Aside from the Kreidler home run in the third, Bruin starter, sophomore right-hander Nick Nastrini, said he was happy with his first collegiate appearance in over seven months.
“All in all, (I) felt good,” Nastrini said. “(My) timing felt good, rhythm felt good, and it was a lot of fun to get back out there and see some of the players we had on our team last year and compete against them.”
Coach John Savage – named the Pac-12 Coach of the Decade – said he wasn’t completely satisfied, but his squad has the makings of a team that will find success.
“It’s nice to play somebody else, somewhat,” Savage said. “I thought we pitched (well) and played good defense. Those are major ingredients of a good team and there were certainly some ingredients and characteristics of good signs. At the end of the day, I thought it was a fun day.”
Despite not being in the alumni game, other UCLA baseball alumni have received multiple awards for their time in the blue and gold. Trevor Bauer (2009-2011), Adam Plutko (2011-2013), David Berg (2012-2015) and James Kaprielian (2013-2015) were all selected to the Pac-12 All Decade Team with Berg – the Bruins’ current pitching coach – taking home Pac-12 Pitcher of the Decade.
UCLA has almost three weeks to prepare for the season opener on Feb. 14 against UC Riverside. The three-game series at Jackie Robinson Stadium will kick off UCLA’s 2020 campaign.