UCLA baseball secures victory, sweeps Loyola Marymount in midweek matchups
Senior outfielder Pat Caulfield had three hits including a two-run home run in No. 23 UCLA baseball’s 9-8 win over Loyola Marymount on Tuesday. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin staff)
|No. 23 UCLA||9|
May 12, 2021 1:31 p.m.
After taking a win in every contest against the Lions this season, the Bruins have a winning record on the road for the first time in 2021.
No. 23 UCLA baseball (28-15, 14-10 Pac-12) defeated Loyola Marymount (16-27, 9-12 WCC) on Tuesday night 9-8 at Page Stadium, sweeping the Lions in the teams’ four 2021 midweek matchups. The win pushed the Bruins above the .500 clip away from Jackie Robinson Stadium as they are now 10-9 on the season in opposing ballparks.
“It’s just so hard to win on the road,” said coach John Savage. “Any team that’s above .500 on the road, … especially where we came from, we’ll take it. The most important part of the college baseball season is May and June, so we are winning some tough road games, and it’s something to build off.”
The Bruins opened up the contest with three consecutive singles, followed by a sacrifice fly from junior designated hitter Jake Moberg. UCLA loaded the bases for the second time in the frame to give way to junior shortstop Mikey Perez, who launched a breaking ball over the left-field fence for his first career grand slam.
“Mike’s struggled the past couple weeks,” said senior outfielder Pat Caulfield. “It was really good seeing him hit a grand slam like that, bringing smiles to the dugout, bringing some confidence back to his bat.”
Freshman right-hander Jake Brooks – making his second career start, both against LMU – retired the side in the home half of the first following the offensive outburst. After allowing five earned runs over 1.1 innings against the Lions in March, Brooks tossed 2.1 innings of shutout baseball Tuesday, with his only base runners coming on two walks in the third inning.
“I thought he was pretty good,” Savage said. “He attacked the zone pretty well early on. Little disappointed with the two walks in the third, but I thought overall it was a step in the right direction – slider was good, his change-up was good. (LMU) had their way with him in the first start, and I thought he responded.”
After UCLA tacked on its sixth run of the night in the top of the inning, Loyola Marymount got on the board for the first time in the bottom of the fourth on a ground ball off junior right-hander Jack Filby, making his first appearance on the mound since the Bruins’ last matchup against the Lions in April.
Continuing to catch up to UCLA, Loyola Marymount added a pair in the bottom of the fifth, only to watch Caulfield send a two-run home run to left-center field the following inning to give his team another five-run advantage.
“I knew I was going to get a fastball after (redshirt junior second baseman Kevin Kendall) got hit with the curveball,” Caulfield said. “I kind of ambushed the fastball right off the bat and it ran over the fence.”
The Lions added a run in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth frames to bring them within two, but the Bruins added an insurance run in the top of the ninth to take a 9-6 lead.
In LMU’s final at-bats of the night, first baseman Dylan Dennis tripled home two runs to bring the score within one. Freshman right-hander Max Rajcic struck out the next Lion looking and, after an intentional walk, got infielder Matthew Piotrowski to hit a soft grounder to first, securing the win for the Bruins.
“It wasn’t a pretty game by no means,” Savage said. “It was a little bit of a sloppy game, really, for us, but you got to win all kinds of different games this time of the year. Tonight’s game we hung in there, and we did what we needed to do. It’s really hard to beat a team four times throughout a year so I was proud that we came out and beat them.”
UCLA will take on UC Santa Barbara for a three-game set over the weekend, with the opening and closing games in Westwood and the middle contest in Santa Barbara.