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UCLA baseball to face LMU after opening series loss to San Francisco

Junior shortstop Matt McLain was 5-for-11 with a home run and a pair of walks over the weekend as No. 8 UCLA baseball dropped its opening series. (Jefferson Alade/Daily Bruin)

Baseball


Loyola Marymount
Tuesday, 5 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
No TV info

By Sam Connon

Feb. 23, 2021 4:23 p.m.

For the third straight year, the Bruins will play the Lions in their first midweek game of the season.

They won the last two of those battles 5-0 and 10-1, but things are already off to a different start in 2021.

No. 8 UCLA baseball (1-2) is set to face off against Loyola Marymount (1-2) on Tuesday, with junior right-hander Sean Mullen tabbed as the starter for the Bruins. Mullen made a one-inning relief appearance Saturday and allowed an earned run but owned a 0.56 career ERA entering this season.

Mullen’s first collegiate outing was in the opening midweek game against the Lions in 2019, when he faced two batters and allowed a hit and a walk without recording an out. UCLA would face LMU again in the NCAA Regionals later that season, losing its first matchup and having to play its way through the loser’s bracket as a result.

The Lions will be the second straight West Coast Conference opponent the Bruins will play to open the season, as they are now coming off a series loss to San Francisco over the weekend – their first series loss to open a season since 2016. Coach John Savage said one of the major impacts of COVID-19 on this season is the inability to schedule games versus East Coast opponents, leading to more matchups with tough, regional foes.

“With the way it’s going to be played out, our schedule, we’re going to be playing a lot of West Coast people,” Savage said. “There’s a lot of good teams in the West, and it’s West Coast baseball.”

UCLA’s bats were only able to record 22 hits over the course of its three-game series with San Francisco, fewer than it had in any series in a shortened 2020 season. While junior shortstop Matt McLain posted a 1.480 on-base plus slugging percentage over the weekend, he only crossed home plate once in the series.

McLain also picked up two errors in the series, and although the Bruins allowed four unearned runs across the three games, he said he and his teammates have to pull from the good plays in order to improve moving forward.

“We’ve got to draw a lot from the positives off this weekend – there were some, definitely,” McLain said after Sunday’s loss. “But I think (errors aren’t) something to be concerned about for us.”

Although there’s only one day between games for UCLA, Savage said he’s looking forward to continuing to break in his roster over the course of the season.

“There’s a lot to work on in practice, and I love practice,” Savage said. “These guys will get better.”

The difference one practice can make for the Bruins could be on display Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium starting at 5 p.m.

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Sam Connon | Alumnus
Connon joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2021. He was the Sports editor for the 2019-2020 academic year, an assistant Sports editor for the 2018-2019 academic year and spent time on the football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, men's soccer, cross country, men's golf and women's golf beats, while also contributing movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment.
Connon joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2021. He was the Sports editor for the 2019-2020 academic year, an assistant Sports editor for the 2018-2019 academic year and spent time on the football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, men's soccer, cross country, men's golf and women's golf beats, while also contributing movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment.
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