Vanderbilt hands UCLA baseball 2 losses, breaks Bruins’ undefeated record
Senior catcher Darius Perry walks out from behind home plate to communicate with his team in a game at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Perry notched his first home run of the season in Saturday’s win over No. 10 Vanderbilt. (Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)
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By Ava Abrishamchian
Feb. 26, 2023 9:44 p.m.
After a trio of blowout wins a week ago, the Bruins were unable to leave Tennessee with their undefeated season intact.
In its only regular-season series against a Southeastern Conference team, No. 17 UCLA baseball (5-2) fell short Sunday afternoon in Nashville against No. 10 Vanderbilt (5-3), dropping the rubber match between the two schools by a score of 2-1. The Bruins’ lone win of the weekend over the Commodores came in a 3-0 decision Saturday.
Despite starting its season 4-0, UCLA was shut out 6-0 in Friday night’s opener against Vanderbilt. While the home team scored five runs in the fourth inning and one in the eighth, the Bruins couldn’t seem to string hits together themselves.
“We hit some baseballs really hard,” said sophomore shortstop Cody Schrier. “They played pretty good, and we just were not on the lucky side of that game.”
Junior right-hander Jake Brooks kept Vanderbilt at bay with three shutout innings to start the game. However, a pair of bases-loaded singles in the fourth inning gave the Commodores a four-run lead, and the Bruins were unable to match their opponent.
After failing to push a run across in the opener, the Bruins arrived the following day to fight. Back-to-back homers in the seventh and another in the ninth gave UCLA its first and only win of the series.
“We didn’t score any runs (Friday), but I feel like if we were to let that affect us, we could have not scored runs again on Saturday,” Schrier said. “But we kind of stayed with it and treated it like a new day.”
Senior catcher Darius Perry set the tone defensively for the blue and gold, catching a pair of runners stealing in the first inning, including center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., who was perfect in steals in 2022. Perry later added a home run in the seventh inning of the win.
“I just know that the plays need to be made,” Perry said. “Especially with a team like Vanderbilt who likes to run, if I can throw guys out, it’ll be a big help to get pitchers out of tough situations.”
Similarly, it was Perry’s connections with the pitchers that allowed him to keep the momentum up throughout the game and series, according to the backstop.
Hoping to win the final game and clinch the series Sunday, the Bruins arrived at Hawkins Field with senior right-hander Kelly Austin set to take the mound. However, coach John Savage said the team fell short in executing the game plan.
“On Saturday, we had three big swings and three solo home runs,” Savage said. “We really didn’t come up with a big hit (Sunday) or else we would walk out of there with two wins.”
UCLA will face off against Loyola Marymount and Michigan this week at home, hoping to use this series as a lesson for the upcoming season, Savage said.
“Some guys had some really good weekends, some balls got caught, some other guys … struggled,” Savage said. “We just have to play better baseball, and we’ll get back at it this Tuesday.”
UCLA will face off against LMU at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
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