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UCLA baseball starts season by sweeping UC Riverside in series

Junior relief pitcher Michael Townsend made three appearances over the weekend for UCLA baseball, pitching one full inning on each day. Townsend did not allow a hit all weekend and struck out two batters. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin)


UC Riverside0
No. 14 UCLA8

By Taiyo Keilin

February 17, 2020 5:06 pm

The Bruins’ pitching staff stymied the Highlanders.

No. 14 UCLA baseball (3-0) shut out UC Riverside (0-3) 8-0 at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Sunday to complete the three-game sweep. With seven series sweeps a year ago, the Bruins notched their first of the 2020 campaign during the opening weekend.

Sophomore right-hander Jesse Bergin tossed five shutout innings, riding a perfect game into the fourth. He ended his outing allowing two hits and a walk, while striking out nine en route to his first win of the season.

“I was just really excited,” Bergin said. “(This outing) is something I’ve been working toward, trying to get back to where I was last year. I was just trying to get the boys back in (the dugout).”

After Bergin’s day was done, coach John Savage turned to his bullpen and five different relievers entered to complete the shutout.

Freshman left-hander Jake Saum got the first two outs in the sixth, and fellow freshman right-hander Charles Harrison recorded the final out in the frame. Junior right-hander Michael Townsend pitched the seventh inning for his third consecutive appearance, picking up a walk and a strikeout.

Senior right-hander Kyle Mora pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, punching out the third batter in the inning, and junior right-hander Holden Powell closed out the win with a pair of strikeouts.

The Bruins’ bullpen combined to throw four no-hit innings, conceding only two walks and a hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts.

“(We) just (have) to stay ready (for) whenever our names are called,” Townsend said. “And when I get in, I have to pitch according to (Savage’s) plan. We got a lot of arms on this staff, and I’m proud of Saum and Harrison getting their debuts today.”

In its opening series, UCLA pitching gave up three runs over 27 innings and struck out Highlanders 34 times. The bullpen threw 11 of those innings and did not allow a single run.

“Saum’s a competitive guy,” Savage said. “And we really like (Harrison) – I think he’s got a great demeanor to pitch. To (allow zero runs after) first and second, nobody out, is big, and that’s what we did. If you can strike out people and play good defense, you’re going to be in a lot of games.”

While the Bruins’ pitchers kept the Highlanders off the scoreboard, the offense still put up runs.

In the bottom of the first inning, freshman second baseman Michael Curialle and sophomore shortstop Matt McLain hit back-to-back home runs. It was the second long ball of the season for both of them.

The Bruins tacked on another run in the second inning before putting up four in the third.

The frame began with McLain and redshirt freshman first baseman JT Schwartz hitting back-to-back doubles, scoring UCLA’s fourth run. Junior transfer outfielder Pat Caulfield then recorded his first hit as a Bruin with an RBI single. Sophomore third baseman Jake Moberg and senior catcher Will McInerny knocked in runs as well, bringing the final tally to eight.

“I thought offensively we really did a good job all weekend,” Savage said. “We had a really good approach, and we can build off that. McLain and Curialle had big weekends, and I think guys kind of fed off each other a little bit. It was a good team weekend. I thought we played well in all phases.”

Over the weekend, UCLA outscored its opponent 21-3 and did not commit a defensive error.

The Bruins have a day off before their first midweek game of the season when Loyola Marymount visits Westwood on Tuesday. Freshman right-hander Jared Karros will make his collegiate debut for UCLA.

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Taiyo Keilin | Assistant Sports editor
Keilin is currently an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's soccer, cross country, women's golf and men's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the baseball, women's golf and men's golf beats.
Keilin is currently an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's soccer, cross country, women's golf and men's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the baseball, women's golf and men's golf beats.
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