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UCLA Defeats LMU in Midweek Action, 5-2

Feb 23, 2021
Noah Cardenas (photo; Jesus Ramirez)

Box Score (PDF)

LOS ANGELES – Behind a strong outing from junior right-hander Sean Mullen and a go-ahead, four-run rally in the sixth inning, the No. 8 UCLA baseball team recorded a 5-2 midweek victory over Loyola Marymount on Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Making his first start since 2019, Mullen turned in an efficient start for UCLA (2-2), needing just 81 pitches to complete 7 1/3 innings. More than doubling his previous career-high in innings, he finished the night allowing five hits, two runs (none earned), no walks, and a career-high seven strikeouts.

"Just fun to watch, he was making a ton of pitches," said UCLA head coach John Savage. "Just liked his demeanor, his presence, confidence, and conviction. It was fun to watch, and call pitches because he was so committed. You have to give him a lot of credit. It's good for other, younger pitchers to see that. That was a pretty impressive outing."

Despite the strong performance, the Bruins found themselves trailing 2-0 heading into the home stretch of the game after the Lions (1-3) scored a pair of unearned runs in the second inning.

UCLA would surge ahead for good with a four run-rally in the sixth, stringing together three singles early in the inning and taking advantage of a pair of LMU miscues to plate the go-ahead runs.

Junior shortstop Matt McLain started the rally by digging out a low pitch and sending it over the shortstop's head for a leadoff single. After a popout, junior third baseman Mikey Perez kept the rally going with an inside-out line drive single over the second baseman's head.

Senior DH Pat Caulfield then got the Bruins on the board by sneaking a ground ball through the 5-6 hole to bring in McLain and give UCLA runners on the corners with one out.

The following play – a sac bunt from freshman outfielder Carson Yates, in his NCAA debut – proved the pivotal play of the inning. Looking to hold the runner at third after fielding the bunt, LMU pitcher Alex Burge waited a moment too long and then sent his throw to first base high and into right field, allowing the game-tying run to come in and putting another pair of runners in scoring position.

The Bruins would go on to cash in on that mistake, as freshman first baseman Kyle Karros plated the eventual game-winning run with an RBI groundout before Yates came across on a pitch from Burge that reached the backstop.

Yates provided an insurance run for UCLA with his first career hit in the eighth inning, launching a fly ball to the opposite field for an RBI triple off the wall.

The bullpen did some heavy lifting to get the Bruins out of a jam in the eighth inning. Leading 4-2 at that point, senior righty Kyle Mora bounced back from a walk that loaded the bases with two outs to induce a harmless pop-up in foul territory on the third base side from pinch-hitter Matt Voelker.

UCLA's defense helped keep the score low, turning picturesque double plays in the third and seventh innings, but Mullen and co. mostly kept the Lion bats in check over the course of the game.

Mullen in particular was strong after the second inning, facing the minimum from the start of the third through the end of the seventh, retiring 11 consecutive batters at one point during that stretch. He even got it done with the glove, successfully recovering to get the out after being hit by a comebacker in the shin to start the sixth inning.

Mora completed a drama-free ninth inning to collect his fifth career save, and first of 2021.

Redshirt junior center fielder Kevin Kendall (2-4) and junior catcher Noah Cardenas (2-4) both finished with multiple hits for the Bruins, as the top seven batters in the order all collected hits.

UCLA returns to action this weekend with a home-and-away series with UC Irvine, hosting the Anteaters on Friday and Sunday while traveling to Orange County for a Saturday showdown. The three-game set starts at 5:00 p.m. on Friday evening.