Baseball recovers from season-opening loss to win 2nd game against San Francisco
Junior right-hander Jesse Bergin stymied San Francisco for 6.2 innings Saturday, earning the win in No. 2 UCLA baseball’s second game of the season. (Jefferson Alade/Daily Bruin)
|No. 2 UCLA||8|
By Sam Connon
Feb. 21, 2021 8:15 a.m.
Jesse Bergin picked up right where he left off in 2020.
The junior right-hander carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of No. 2 UCLA baseball’s (1-1) 8-2 victory over San Francisco (1-1) on Saturday, striking out six and only allowing three men on base. Bergin was 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA and .173 batting average against last year before the rest of the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and finished Saturday’s outing without allowing a run while holding the Dons to a .048 average.
“I really thought (Bergin)’s formed an identity,” said coach John Savage. “He’s in very good shape, he’s worked very hard, he’s prepared himself very much for this moment.”
Bergin retired the first 10 batters he faced Saturday, and he put together another streak of nine straight outs between the fourth and seventh frames.
None of the first 22 batters Bergin faced were able to get a hit off him, and while he said his teammates didn’t mention the no-hitter to him in the dugout, he added he wasn’t focused on the potential accomplishment or paranoia surrounding it.
“Honestly, I didn’t really care,” Bergin said. “I kept, every inning, just getting our offense back out there, that was our thing for the day.”
The wheels started to come off for Bergin in the seventh inning when he hit the second batter of the inning on the first pitch of the at-bat. After he allowed a hard-hit single to right with two down, Savage gave Bergin the hook – something the coach said he was going to do before the start of the eighth inning regardless.
Bergin was working with a cushion for most of the day, something that wasn’t the case for the Bruins’ pitchers Friday night.
UCLA finished its season opener 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, stranding the bases loaded twice and only scoring two runs all night in an eventual 6-2 loss. It looked like more of the same for the Bruins’ offense early Saturday, with junior catcher Noah Cardenas popping out to end the first inning despite having two runners on.
It didn’t take long for UCLA to flip the script, however.
After a leadoff walk by redshirt senior right fielder Jarron Silva and a double by junior third baseman Mikey Perez, the Bruins had two men in scoring position with no outs in the bottom of the second. After a strikeout, UCLA scored runs on each of the next four at-bats, sparked by a single to left by freshman first baseman Kyle Karros – good for his first career hit and first career RBI.
The Bruins ended the frame up 4-0 after RBIs by redshirt junior center fielder Kevin Kendall, sophomore second baseman Michael Curialle and junior shortstop Matt McLain, and they never looked back.
“We put up a big four-spot, that was huge – that’s what every pitcher looks for,” Bergin said. “It makes things more comfortable pitching when you can go and attack a little bit and you know your offense is behind you.”
UCLA was stuck at four runs for the next few innings but broke through again in the bottom of the fifth thanks to Perez’s second double of the day and Kendall’s team-leading third hit. Junior designated hitter Jack Filby – who spent the last two seasons as a pitcher – slapped a grounder through the right side to bring around the first of three Bruin runs that inning.
McLain wasn’t one of the seven UCLA hitters to step up to the plate in its three-run fifth, but he led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk after drawing a hit by pitch in the fourth and stretching singles into doubles in the first and second. The preseason All-American led his team with six total bases in the game and said he tried to be as aggressive as possible on the basepaths.
“I’m just trying to get in scoring position,” McLain said. “Just being ready to go at all times. I think it’s one of those things, just try to be a good baserunner so my teammates can drive me in.”
Filby scored on a wild pitch to stretch the Bruins’ lead from seven to eight runs in the seventh, a lead that would immediately shrink when UCLA’s combined shutout ended the next inning.
Senior right-hander Adrian Chaidez got the Bruins out of the seventh inning unscathed despite inheriting two baserunners, but he picked up an earned run in the eighth after allowing a double and single to start the frame. Junior left-hander Daniel Colwell came in to get UCLA out of the eighth-inning jam, and he handed it over to junior right-hander Sean Mullen to close things out in the ninth.
Mullen allowed three hits and one earned run in the final frame, but he still wrapped things up with the Bruins’ 11th strikeout of the day.
UCLA will be back at Jackie Robinson Stadium for the series-deciding finale Sunday at 1 p.m.
“Tomorrow should be a pretty good one,” Savage said. “I thought they kind of handled us last night and we had a bounce-back today.”