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UCLA baseball scores win against Gaels in second matchup of series

Senior designated hitter Will McInerny co-led UCLA baseball with two RBIs in the Bruins’ 7-1 win over Saint Mary’s on Saturday. McInerny has notched three RBIs this season, recording one against UC Riverside last week. (Liz Ketcham/Daily Bruin)


Saint Mary's1
No. 14 UCLA7

By Will Foote

Feb. 23, 2020 9:37 a.m.

Despite trailing for the first time since Opening Day, the Bruins remain undefeated.

After its pitching staff allowed its first run in 19 innings, No. 14 UCLA baseball (6-0) scored seven unanswered runs en route to a 7-1 win over Saint Mary’s (2-4) on Saturday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

“(UCLA’s) pitching wasn’t necessarily sharp,” said coach John Savage. “We gave up one run, so that’s always good news. But, at the end of the day, (Saint Mary’s was) only a hit away from putting a lot on the board.”

The Gaels left 12 runners on base and had the bases loaded in two separate innings, but were only able to translate those to a single run off sophomore right-hander Nick Nastrini in the third inning.

Following leadoff walks to the Gaels’ left fielder Jacob Talamante and center fielder Ryan Novis, Nastrini surrendered a one-run single to second basemen Gio Diaz, which gave the Gaels their first lead of the series.

The lead didn’t last long as the top of the Bruins’ lineup responded with three straight hits for a run in the bottom half of the inning. Junior center fielder Garrett Mitchell started the two-out rally with a double to right-center and was singled home by freshman right fielder Michael Curialle to knot the score at 1-1.

The final six of the Bruins’ runs were all batted in by the bottom three hitters in the lineup, including a two-run home run by junior left fielder Pat Caulfield – his first since transferring to UCLA – and a two-run RBI single off the left field wall by senior designated hitter Will McInerny.

“Not only (the starting lineup) 1-9 (hitters), but 1-33, we have a really strong roster this year, and we play together,” McInerny said. “That’s one of our strengths, just having that ability to trust whoever’s in the box regardless of where they’re hitting. Some days it’s (hitters) 1-4 or 4-6, and some days it’s 7-9. That’s just a testament to our team as a whole – strength in numbers.”

In Nastrini’s second start of the season, the sophomore pitched a perfect first inning, but allowed at least one hit in his next three innings of work, before Savage elected to bring in junior right-hander Adrian Chaidez in the top of the fourth inning.

“(Nastrini) made some mistakes – two-strike mistakes, two-out walks,” Savage said. “We feel that he’s better than that. He’s still a young pitcher, but we just felt that with the depth of our bullpen, we could go to a lot of different guys.”

After entering in the fourth with two outs, Chaidez ended the inning with a groundout to strand two Gaels runners on base.

“(Chaidez) threw the ball really well,” Savage said. “He was up to 92, 93 (mph). – He’s got a really good arm. He can strike people out and he’s got multiple pitches. He’s got a pretty big fastball, and he’s going to come into play pretty big this season.”

Chaidez returned to the mound in the fifth inning and struck out the side en route to earning his first career win with UCLA. The transfer from Cypress College has five strikeouts in his two appearances out of the bullpen for the Bruins and has yet to allow a run.

“It feels great knowing that the coach had enough confidence in me to roll me out there in a 1-1 ball game in the third inning,” Chaidez said. “I was just executing whatever pitch coach called. Whatever he called, I knew it was what pitch I needed to get out with.”

After Nastrini exited, UCLA’s bullpen held Saint Mary’s to three hits – all of which came in the top of the ninth inning – and zero runs, while striking out six batters in 5 1/3 innings.

The final game of the series between the Bruins and the Gaels will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

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Will Foote | Sports contributor
Foote is currently a contributor on the baseball beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's soccer, men's volleyball and men's water polo beats.
Foote is currently a contributor on the baseball beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's soccer, men's volleyball and men's water polo beats.
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