Baseball Welcomes Pepperdine, CSF, USC for Weekend Tourney
UCLA Set to Co-Host 2021 College Baseball Classic
No. 8 UCLA (5-3) concludes a five-game homestand this week by co-hosting the College Baseball Classic tournament with USC (3-3). The round-robin tourney field also includes Cal State Fullerton (3-4) and Pepperdine (1-6). All of UCLA's games will be played at Jackie Robinson Stadium and will be streamed live. The Bruins open against the Waves on Friday at 5:00 p.m., followed by a 2:00 p.m. rematch with Cal State Fullerton on Saturday and a 1:00 p.m. rivalry battle with the Trojans on Sunday. Cal State Fullerton and Pepperdine will play a single game at Goodwin Field in Fullerton on Sunday to round out the tournament. UCLA fans can follow the action with an audio broadcast and live stats on UCLABruins.com as well as live updates on the team Twitter account, @UCLABaseball. Tim Wilhelm will be on the call for the video and audio broadcasts.
Projected Pitching Matchups
Friday, Mar. 5 - 5:00 p.m. PT
UCLA - Zach Pettway, RHP, Sr. (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
PEPP - Trevor Hinkel, RHP, RSo. (0-1, 3.86 ERA)
Saturday, Mar. 6 - 2:00 p.m. PT
UCLA - Jesse Bergin, RHP, Jr. (1-1, 2.79 ERA)
CSF - TBA
Sunday, Mar. 7 - 1:00 p.m. PT
UCLA - Nick Nastrini, RHP, Jr. (1-0, 2.19 ERA)
USC - Alex Cornwell, LHP, RSo. (1-0, 4.66 ERA)
The Week In Review
UCLA has gone 3-1 over the last week, winning two of three over the weekend against UC Irvine before defeating Cal State Fulllerton in a Tuesday game. The Bruins and Anteaters played a home-and-away series, with the Friday and Sunday games taking place in Los Angeles and the Saturday game in Irvine.
- UCLA began its series against UCI with a 4-3, walk-off win on Friday night. The Bruins trailed for most of the game, but leveled the score at 3-3 with two runs in the seventh, then rallied for the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Mikey Perez opened that rally by stinging a one-hop liner off the glove of the UCI third baseman and into left field for a double, then UCLA loaded the bases on an opposite-field single from Kyle Karros and an intentional walk to Kevin Kendall. Jack Filby "drove in" the game-winning run with a bases-loaded walk, and didn't have to take the bat off his shoulder as he reached on four straight pitches out of the zone.
- The Bruins dropped game two of the series, in Irvine, 7-3. The Anteaters jumped out to an early advantage with four unearned runs in the first inning and would lead 7-0 after three full. UCLA's bullpen held UCI off the board the rest of the way, throwing a combined five scoreless innings of relief. Kendall had a pair of base hits in the loss. Saturday's affair marked the first time in six career February starts that Jesse Bergin allowed an earned run (31 1/3 innings).
- UCLA captured the series win with a 4-0 victory on Sunday, the team's first shutout of 2021. Nick Nastrini led the way with six innings of one-hit ball, allowing only a fifth-inning single and striking out seven. Michael Townsend, Kyle Mora, and Sean Mullen all followed with scoreless innings of relief to complete the blanking. UCLA led 1-0 most of the game following a first inning Michael Curialle sac fly, padding the lead with a three-spot in the seventh highlighted by a Jarron Silva pinch-hit RBI single and a two-run double off the left field wall by Kyle Karros.
- The Bruins used a dominant all-around performance to record a 14-1 win over Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday at home. Offensively, the Bruins posted a season-high in runs and scored in each of their first five offensive innings. On the mound, Sean Mullen and a trio of Bruin relievers threw a combined two-hitter, allowing just a single unearned run. Josh Hahn and Jack Filby each hit their first career home runs to lead the offensive charge, as eight separate Bruins scored a run. After five innings of two-hit ball from Mullen, UCLA relievers Jake Saum, Jake Brooks, and Charles Harrison held the Titans to just one baserunner - a ninth-inning walk - over the game's final four innings.
The Bruins have a home-heavy schedule to start the season, playing 10 of their first 11 games of the season at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA leaves Southern California just once before the end of March, a three-game set at Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) from Mar. 12-14.
In This Week's Polls
UCLA appeared in all five major national polls on Monday, ranking as high as No. 8 (D1Baseball) and remaining top-10 in Baseball America (No. 9), NCBWA (No. 9), and the USA Today Coaches Poll (No. 10).
The All-Time Series Against Cal State Fullerton
UCLA owns a 39-68-2 all-time record against Cal State Fullerton, including a 16-27 mark under head coach John Savage. More recently, the Bruins have won their last four matchups with the Titans and five of the last six. Exempting 2020, UCLA and Cal State Fullerton have met at least once every year since 1974, a streak of 46 consecutive seasons.
The All-Time Series Against Pepperdine
UCLA leads the all-time series against the Waves, 64-39-4. The Bruins have won four straight against Pepperdine dating back to 2016, and are 18-6 against them under head coach John Savage.
The All-Time Series Against USC
Though USC holds the edge in the all-time series, UCLA has turned the tide in recent years. In 16 previous years under head coach John Savage, UCLA has lost the season series to USC just twice. The Bruins have captured weekend sweeps of the Trojans in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, and 2018. UCLA has won three of the last five matchups in the annual tournament finale, including a 7-5 triumph at Dodger Stadium in 2019 and a 15-3 rout of the Trojans at Dedeaux Field in 2020 (that game turned out to be the final contest for UCLA in the 2020 season).
Hits at a Premium for the Opposition
The Bruins have allowed three hits or fewer in back-to-back games entering the weekend, tossing a combined three-hitter against UCI on Sunday followed by a two-hit effort against Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday. While that seems like it would be a rare occurrence, it's been anything but for UCLA pitchers in recent years. The Bruins allowed three hits or fewer in back-to-back games on three occasions in 2020, and two times in 2019. Most recently, UCLA accomplished the feat in the first two games of the 2020 Frisco College Classic on Feb. 28 and 29, 2020 against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, respectively. UCLA also allowed three hits or fewer in three straight games from Feb. 15-18, 2020 against UC Riverside and Loyola Marymount.
Return of the Zach
Senior RHP Zach Pettway - the D1Baseball and Baseball America Preseason Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year - made his 2021 debut last Friday, pitching a scoreless sixth. Facing the 5-6-7 spots in the lineup, Pettway fanned the first batter he faced on a fastball, then after hitting the next batter with a 2-2 offering, ended the frame wiith a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play. UCLA's Opening Day starter in 2019 and 2020, Pettway is 13-6 with a 3.42 ERA over 186 2/3 career innings.He is slated to make his first start of the year on Friday against Pepperdine.
Bullpen Returns to Form
UCLA's bullpen has been on a hot streak over the team's last five games, allowing no runs runs and just eight hits over 18 1/3 innings of work. Bruin relievers have struck out 16 batters over that span. The pen has been relied on for heavy duty in three of the last five games, tossing four innings against Cal State Fullerton, 4 2/3 innings in the UCI series-opener, and five full innings against the Anteaters on Saturday. For the season, UCLA relievers have combined for a 1.98 ERA and a 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings ratio.
On the Run
UCLA has been active on the basepaths so far in 2021, swiping 14 bags in 16 attempts (88% success rate). The Bruins have the second-most stolen bases in the Pac-12 (Washington, 16) and rank 20th nationally. Kevin Kendall has a team-high five stolen bases in six attempts, while Jarron Silva, Mikey Perez, and Noah Cardenas are all 2-2 in SB attempts.
UCLA's starting pitching has opened the year on a strong note, with Bruin starters combining for a 2.27 ERA and 10.5 K/9 ratio through the season's first eight games. Bruin starters have allowed three earned runs or fewer in all eight of the team's games, and allowed no earned runs in four contests.