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UCLA baseball prepares for three-game series against Saint Mary’s

Senior left fielder Kyle Cuellar said the Bruins’ bullpen has been the team’s strength this season, with multiple arms providing depth. The bullpen hasn’t allowed a run to this point. (Dhruv Singhania/Daily Bruin)

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Saint Mary's
Friday, 6 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
UCLA Live Audio
Saint Mary's
Saturday, 2 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
UCLA Live Audio
Saint Mary's
Sunday, 1 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
UCLA Live Audio

By Taiyo Keilin

Feb. 20, 2020 11:09 p.m.

The Bruins have thrown back-to-back two-hitters, and they have a chance to continue their winning ways this weekend.

No. 14 UCLA baseball (4-0) will take on Saint Mary’s (2-2) in a three-game series in Westwood starting Friday. It will be the first time the two teams have played since the Dodgertown Classic game on March 12, 2011 – which ended in coach John Savage’s 200th victory at UCLA.

“(Saint Mary’s is) going to be competitive,” Savage said. “They’ve been very competitive the last several years.”

UCLA enters the series having outscored its first two opponents – UC Riverside and Loyola Marymount – 31-4 across four games.

The pitching staff has yet to give up more than two runs in any game and has only allowed 14 hits so far. The bullpen has opened the season with 15 scoreless innings, surrendering three hits while striking out 19.

“Our bullpen is definitely one of our big strengths,” said senior left fielder Kyle Cuellar. “We’re six, seven guys deep in there, and they’re still guys who haven’t even pitched who can really compete for us.”

This weekend, Savage said he will be sticking with the same rotation of right-handers who pitched the opening weekend against UC Riverside. Junior Zach Pettway will pitch Friday, sophomore Nick Nastrini will get the ball Saturday and sophomore Jesse Bergin will wrap up the series.

In the UC Riverside series, the three combined to pitch 16 innings, giving up three runs and earning two wins.

“I’ve taken a lot of tips from the older starters,” said freshman right-hander Jared Karros, who started Tuesday’s game against LMU. “They’re all super competitive. They go out there with an intensity level that’s super fun to watch.”

At the plate, sophomore shortstop Matt McLain has been leading the way. He has started all four games in the No. 3 hole in Savage’s lineup, and has a team-high eight hits and eight RBIs. McLain is also tied for the team lead with two home runs, alongside freshman second baseman Michael Curialle.

Aside from McLain, the Bruins have been getting consistent production from the other hitters in the top four spots in the lineup. Junior center fielder Garrett Mitchell, redshirt freshman first baseman JT Schwartz and Curialle have combined to collect 18 hits and score 16 runs.

The first four in the order are a combined 26-for-59 with a .527 on-base percentage and a .729 slugging percentage.

“We just had a really good approach and we can build off that,” Savage said. “Whenever you get the top of the order going, getting on base, having a little impact – all that stuff is part of the winning formula. Right now, those guys are doing their jobs.”

Game one will begin at 6 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium with games two and three starting at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, respectively.

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