UCLA Heads to Cal State Fullerton for Tuesday Tune Up
UCLA Heads to Orange County for Midweek at Cal State Fullerton
After playing 10 of the first 11 games of the season at home, No. 6 UCLA hits the road for four straight this week starting with a Tuesday night game at Cal State Fullerton starting at 5:00 p.m. It's the third game between the Bruins and Titans over the last eight days, with UCLA taking the previous two matchups by an aggregate score of 20-2. 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 audio broadcast.
Projected Pitching Matchups
Tuesday, Mar. 9 - 5:00 p.m. PT
UCLA - Sean Mullen, RHP, Jr. (2-0, 0.56 ERA)
CSF - Wyatt Johnson, RHP, Fr. (first career apperance)
The Week In Review
UCLA went 4-0 over four home games last week, defeating Cal State Fullerton 14-1 on Tuesday before taking single weekend decisions over Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton, and USC as part of the 2021 College Baseball Classic.
- The Bruins used a dominant all-around performance to record a 14-1 win over Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday. Offensively, the Bruins scorer in each of their first five offensive innings en route to 14 runs. 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.
- UCLA opened the College Baseball Classic with a 16-8 triumph over Pepperdine. The heart of the order helped UCLA produce a season-high in runs, as the 3-4-5 spots of Matt McLain, Josh Hahn, and Michael Curialle combined to go 7-12 with five extra-base hits, six RBIs, and nine runs scored. Curialle was especially effective, posting career highs in doubles (3) and RBIs (4). The game was closer than the scoreline would make it seem, as the score was 8-7 in the middle of the eighth before the Bruins posted an eight-spot in the bottom of the inning which was aided by eight free runners (five walks, three HBPs). Jared Karros (5 IP, 1 ER) and Sean Mullen (1.2 IP, 0 R, 0 H) earned the win and save, respectively, to lead the Bruins on the mound.
- The Bruins topped Cal State Fullerton for the second time of the week with a 6-1 win on Saturday. Jesse Bergin tossed six scoreless innings to lead the Bruins, and UCLA received an RBI from six separate players. The Bruins went ahead for good with multi-run rallies in the third and fourth innings, the latter of which came via back-to-back homers from Mikey Perez and Kevin Kendall. It was Perez's first collegiate homer and Kendall's first roundtripper since the 2018 season. Kendall (3-5) had the most hits in the UCLA lineup on Saturday.
- UCLA completed an unbeaten weekend with a 10-1 win over crosstown rival USC on Sunday. It was the Bruins' third consecutive win over the Trojans in the annual tournament finale. Nick Nastrini allowed just one hit and struck out nine over a 5 1/3 inning start, and Jake Saum closed the door with the 3 2/3 inning save. Saum retired the first nine batters he faced. Each of the top four batters in the UCLA lineup - Kendall, Caulfield, McLain, and JT Schwartz - had multiple hits, accounting for 10 of UCLA's 12 as a team. Caulfield drove in four of UCLA's first five runs, first on a two-run double in the third and then a two-run single in the fourth, before the Bruins broke it open with a five-run eighth.
On The Road
UCLA will play four straight on the road this week, tied for the longest road swing for the team this season. The Bruins will also play four consecutive away contests from Apr. 20-25 and May 7-11. This weekend's series at Cal Poly marks the only time UCLA will leave Southern California before Apr. 9.
In This Week's Polls
UCLA appeared in all five major national polls on Monday, ranking as high as No. 6 (D1Baseball) and remaining top-10 in Baseball America (No. 8), the USA TODAY Coaches Poll (No. 8), and Collegiate Baseball (No. 10).
UCLA is 15-1 in midweeks over the last two-plus seasons, including an unbeaten 11-0 mark in 2019 and two wins in two games this season. UCLA has defeated LMU and Cal St. Fullerton in midweek action this year, outscoring their opponents 19-3 in those games. The Bruins went 2-1 in midweeks last year, topping Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine at home before falling on the road at UC Santa Barbara for the team's first loss of the year. The Bruins are slated to face just four teams in midweeks in 2021: Loyola Marymount, Cal State Fullerton, Pepperdine, and Nevada.
The All-Time Series Against Cal State Fullerton
UCLA owns a 40-68-2 all-time record against Cal State Fullerton, including a 17-27 mark under head coach John Savage. More recently, the Bruins have won their last five matchups with the Titans and six of the last seven, including two wins in two matchups this year. Exempting 2020, UCLA and Cal State Fullerton have met at least once every year since 1974, a streak of 46 consecutive seasons.
On a Winning Streak
After dropping its season-opening series against San Francisco, the Bruins have rallied to win five straight and seven of the last eight games. During the team's current five-game winning streak, UCLA has:
- Outscored its opponents 50-11 and outhit opponents .294 to .167
- Posted a 2.00 team ERA, compared to a 9.00 ERA for opponents in the same span
- Scored double-digit runs in three games, including 16 against Pepperdine and 14 against Cal State Fullerton (Tuesday)
- Allowed three hits or fewer in three games, including a combined two-hitter against CSF on Mar. 2
- Allowed one earned run or fewer in four of five games, including a 4-0 shutout of UC Irvine on Feb. 28
Tangling With the Titans
Tuesday marks UCLA's third game of the season against Cal State Fullerton - all coming within an eight-day period. Key perfomers against CSF so far on the offensive side of the ball include Kevin Kendall (5-7, three extra-base hits), Josh Hahn (4-8, three RBIs), Michael Curialle (3-7, two doubles, three RBIs), and Mikey Perez (2-5, home run). Jake Brooks has been the lone Bruin to pitch in both games so far, allowing just one hit (a single) over three combined innings of relief work.
Hits at a Premium for the Opposition
The Bruins have allowed three hits or fewer in three of their last five games, including back-to-back efforts against UC Irvine on Feb. 28 and Cal State Fullerton on Mar. 2. 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.
Bullpen Remains in Form
UCLA's bullpen, a traditional strength, has been solid once again to start the 2021 season. Bruin relievers have allowed one run or fewer in seven of the team's last eight games, accruing a 1.97 ERA over that span. For the season, UCLA's bullpen has combined for a 2.85 ERA and a 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings ratio.
On the Run
UCLA has been active on the basepaths so far in 2021, swiping 19 bags in 21 attempts (90% success rate). The Bruins are tied for the Pac-12 lead in team stolen bases, and rank 15th nationally. Kevin Kendall has a team-high seven stolen bases in eight attempts, while Mikey Perez (3-3), Matt McLain (2-2), Noah Cardenas (2-2), and Jarron Silva (2-2) all have 100% success rates on multiple attempts.
Grab Some Pine
UCLA has been piling up the Ks so far in 2021, leading the Pac-12 in both strikeouts per nine innings (10.9) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.97). The Bruins' K/9 rate ranks 10th in the country. Eight of the 13 pitchers UCLA has used to this point of the year are striking out over a batter per inning, including Nick Nastrini (27 Ks in 17.2 IP), Sean Mullen (19 Ks in 16.0 IP), Jesse Bergin (19 Ks in 15.2 IP), Jared Karros (16 Ks vs 14.1 IP), and Jake Saum (14 Ks in 10 IP).
UCLA's starting pitching has opened the year on a strong note, with Bruin starters combining for a 2.21 ERA and 11.2 K/9 ratio through the season's first 11 games. Bruin starters have allowed three earned runs or fewer in all 11 of the team's games, and allowed no earned runs in over half of the team's games (6-11, 55%).
Kendall Swinging it
UCLA's primary leadoff hitter, Kevin Kendall carries an eight-game hitting streak into this week. During that streak, Kendall is hitting .438 (14-32). He was especially hot last week, batting .500 (8-16) with four extra-base hits, four RBIs, and eight runs scored. He hit a solo home run on Saturday against Cal State Fullerton, his first roundtripper since Apr. 21, 2018. He is a nominee for the Pac-12 Player of the Week and UCLA Student-Athlete of the Week awards.
JT Back in the Lineup
Sophomore JT Schwartz made his first appearance of the 2021 season on Sunday, batting cleanup and going 3-4 with a triple and three RBIs. He reached base four times in the contest. Schwartz batted .328 with a .380 on-base percentage last year as UCLA's primary cleanup hitter and first baseman.
Consistent Up The Middle
The Bruins' lineup has been anchored by three staples up the middle. Junior catcher Noah Cardenas, junior shortstop Matt McLain, and redshirt junior center field Kevin Kendall have all started every game at the same position, the only three Bruins to do so in 2021.