UCLA Caps College Baseball Classic With 10-1 Win Over USC
LOS ANGELES – Senior left fielder Pat Caulfield had a career-high four RBIs and Nick Nastrini allowed just one hit over 5 1/3 innings to lead the No. 8-ranked UCLA baseball team to a 10-1 non-conference victory over crosstown rival USC in the final game of the 2021 College Baseball Classic.
The victory represented the third straight for the Bruins (8-3) over the Trojans (3-6) in the annual tournament co-hosted by the two schools.
After dropping its season-opening series against San Francisco, UCLA has responded to win five straight and seven of the last eight games. The Bruins outscored their opponents 46-11 over four games this week. Bruin pitchers have allowed three hits or fewer in three of the last five games.
Each of the top four batters in the UCLA lineup – Kevin Kendall, Caulfield, Matt McLain, and JT Schwartz – had multiple hits in the contest, combining to provide 10 of UCLA's 12 hits on the afternoon. Playing his first game of the season, Schwartz was particularly impressive, finishing with three hits in four at-bats, including a three-run triple in the eighth inning.
Caulfield had the two biggest offensive blows of the day for the Bruins, providing clutch hits during run-scoring rallies in the third and fourth innings.
First, he drove a 1-1 offering from USC starter Alex Cornwell into the left field corner to plate Kyle Karros and Kendall and open the scoring in the third inning. Karros and Kendall had reached earlier in the inning on hard-struck grounders through the middle.
The Burlingame, Calif. native drove in another two runs during his next plate appearance, scorching a base hit on one hop into center field to cash in a pair of runners in scoring position. Caulfield would later come around to score himself on after a Matt McLain grounder to the shortstop's left that bounced on the lip of the outfield grass and into center field for a run-scoring single.
Nastrini was outstanding on the mound for the second consecutive week, striking out nine batters and allowing just one hit over a 5 1/3 inning start.
The one hit on his record was a bunt single from USC's Rhylan Thomas to open the game, and Nastrini responded by holding the Trojans out of the hit column the rest of the afternoon.
The San Diego, Calif. native had to work up a sweat in the fourth inning after walking the bases full, but he ultimately left the bags full after getting USC catcher Garret Guillemette to swing through a breaking pitch on the outer half of the plate. Those would be the only three walks he allowed all day.
Sophomore lefty Jake Saum finished off the game for UCLA with a 3 2/3 inning save. He retired the first nine batters he faced on Sunday, ultimately allowing just two hits and one run.
The Bruins blew it open with a five-run eighth, taking advantage of a pair of USC errors. Kevin Kendall plated the first run of the rally with a base hit up the middle to bring in Jack Filby. Schwartz brought in three more with a bases-loaded line drive that got lost in the lights by the USC right fielder, and he later came across himself on a wild pitch to cap the game's scoring.
After opening the season playing 10 of 11 at home, the Bruins play four road games this upcoming week. That stretch starts with a contest at Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday night at 5:00 p.m, followed by a weekend series at Cal Poly.