Baseball concludes Saint Mary’s series with third victory, completing weekend sweep
Sophomore right-hander Jesse Bergin notched his second win in as many starts for UCLA baseball, going 5.1 innings and striking out nine batters along the way. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin)
|No. 14 UCLA||2|
By Marcus Veal
Feb. 23, 2020 8:06 p.m.
All two of the Bruins’ runs came in a single inning, but it was enough for the win.
No. 14 UCLA baseball (7-0) concluded the weekend with a series sweep over Saint Mary’s (2-5) with a 2-0 shutout in the finale Sunday afternoon.
“In any true formula of winning, you’ve got to pitch and play defense,” said coach John Savage. “I thought we played exceptional defense all weekend long, and our communication on the field is getting better. It’s still early obviously, but I’m seeing a really good defensive team forming and that’s a major ingredient for any winning team.”
Sophomore starting pitcher Jesse Bergin took the ball in the finale Sunday afternoon.
In 5.1 innings, the right-hander registered nine strikeouts on a walk and four hits. After a leadoff walk and a single in the first inning, Bergin retired nine batters in a row between the first and fourth innings.
“Pitching on Sunday makes you see their offense twice, and coach (Savage) gets a sense of what to throw, so it was easy to trust the call and go out and execute,” Bergin said. “Once I settled in after the first inning, it was easy to keep going and just throw strikes.”
The Bruins’ lone inning of offense came in the third.
Senior catcher Will McInerny got the rally started with a one-out single into center field. In the next at bat, McInerny tried to score from first on a double from junior center fielder Garrett Mitchell, but was thrown out at the plate.
It was freshman second baseman Michael Curialle who drove in the game’s first run with a single to right, allowing Mitchell to score. Sophomore shortstop Matt McLain followed suit with a single to center for an RBI and a 2-0 lead.
“When pitching and defense is really high, games tend to be pretty low-scoring and tight games,” Curialle said. “We all saw a lot of offspeed today, and hitting (No. 2 in the lineup), I just tried to take it the other way and that’s what I did to bring in (Mitchell).”
The bullpen took over with one out in the sixth inning, and three pitchers combined to finish the shutout.
Junior reliever Michael Townsend inherited runners on first and second after back-to-back singles from the Gaels but was able to keep Saint Mary’s at bay after recording one strikeout with another Gael caught stealing. Townsend finished the day with 1.2 innings of work.
Senior right-hander Kyle Mora retired his first batter via the ground ball, but a single and walk were enough for Savage to turn to junior Holden Powell – who put the Gaels away via strikeout and a fielder’s choice. Powell stayed in for the ninth inning, picking up a groundout and two more strikeouts on the way to the win.
“Powell only pitched on Friday, and when you have the winning run at the plate, that’s when the closer comes in,” Savage said. “We’re not afraid to put him in for multiple innings. We don’t really want to, but it doesn’t always work out that way. At the end of the day, I think they did a good job of picking each other up on the mound all weekend.”