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No. 25 UCLA Finishes Off Utah Sweep

Apr 18, 2021
JT Schwartz (photo: Scott Chandler)

LOS ANGELES – The No. 25-ranked UCLA baseball team completed a weekend sweep of visiting Utah with a 9-2 victory  on Sunday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The Bruins (21-11, 9-6 Pac-12 Conference) scored early and often in the win, producing at least one run in six of eight offensive frames. It was the first weekend series sweep of the season for UCLA.

The weekend's final margin – UCLA won 20-0 on Friday and 13-3 on Saturday – was a serendipitous one, as the Bruins scored 42 total runs against the Utes on the same weekend in which the team was wearing their "42" caps to honor Jackie Robinson Day. UCLA also notched 47 hits for the weekend – Jackie Robinson broke MLB's color barrier in 1947.

"We really wanted to honor Jackie and the entire Robinson family," said UCLA head coach John Savage. "We talked about it all week. We wanted to take ownership of the field, and we played well – it was a complete team performance."

The Bruins used a balanced offensive attack to finish off the sweep, with eight of nine starters collecting a hit.

Sophomore DH Josh Hahn had the biggest offensive day for the Bruins, going 3-3 with a team-high three RBIs and hitting his second home run of the weekend. Junior shortstop Matt McLain (2-3, two RBIs, three runs, solo home run) also stood out with the bat while senior left fielder Kyle Cuellar (2-4, two runs) also joined the multi-hit club.

Utah (8-21, 4-11) saw the first two hitters in the lineup – Jaylon McLaughlin and Jayden Kiernan – combine to go 4-8, but the rest of the lineup was just 3-23 on the afternoon.

Junior right-hander Jesse Bergin had a solid bounce-back start for the Bruins, allowing just two earned and striking out a season-high nine over six-plus innings. He received the win to improve to 4-2.

The Studio City, Calif. was especially strong early, facing the minimum and striking out four his first time through the lineup.

Right-handed relievers Adrian Chaidez, Michael Townsend, and Max Rajcic finished it off with a scoreless inning apiece. The former was especially impressive, striking out the side to post a zero despite inheriting a runner. Townsend faced the minimum after rolling up a 4-6-3 double play in the eighth, and Rajcic went three-up, three-down in the ninth.

Kendall started the game off on the right foot for UCLA, slapping a liner down the left field line for a leadoff double in the first. Cuellar followed with a base hit, and the Bruins would ultimately cash in both those runners.

Freshman third baseman Kyle Karros pushed across the game-winning run in the next frame, hammering a fly ball over the center fielder's head for his first career triple before coming around on an RBI groundout.

The Bruins continued to rally throughout the course of the game. Sophomore first baseman JT Schwartz and Hahn each delivered run-scoring hits as part of a two-run third, McLain led off the fifth with an opposite field solo home run, the Bruins capitalized on a critical error to plate a pair in the sixth, and Hahn capped the weekend's scoring with a solo bomb in the seventh.

That roundtripper – UCLA's 42nd run of the weekend – landed just beyond the "42" decal in front of the scoreboard at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The Bruins hit the road for their next four next games, starting with a Tuesday contest at Pepperdine starting at 3:00 p.m.