No. 22 UCLA Edges LMU in Tuesday Tune Up, 9-8
LOS ANGELES – Junior shortstop Mikey Perez hit a grand slam and Pat Caulfield delivered three RBIs to give No. 22 UCLA an early lead, allowing the Bruins to withstand a comeback charge in a 9-8 triumph over Loyola Marymount on Tuesday night at Page Stadium.
UCLA (28-15) held leads of 6-1 and 8-3 at different points of the game, but the Lions (16-27) made it interesting by scoring in six consecutive innings starting in the fourth, ultimately getting the game-tying run to third base in the bottom of the ninth.
With the win, UCLA improved to 7-0 this season in midweeks, including four wins in as many contests against the Lions.
Holding a three-run lead heading into the last of the ninth, the Bruins had to buckle down after Dylan Dennis rolled a triple into the right field corner to plate a pair and put the tying run 90 feet away with just one out.
In a critical spot against the next batter, UCLA freshman closer Max Rajcic came up big by bouncing back from a 2-0 count to strike out Alex Lambeau, freezing the LMU shortstop on a sharp 2-2 curveball.
Rajcic then got Matthew Piotrowski to hit a routine grounder to first to end the game and earn his fifth save of the campaign.
The Bruins used the long ball to pot the majority of their runs on Tuesday, and it turned out they would need every one of them.
Perez had the exclamation point of a five-run first for UCLA, drilling a 2-1 offering from LMU starter Will Grimm over the left-center field fence with the bases loaded for his first career grand slam. The Bruins had set up that rally with three consecutive base hits through the right side – all taking nearly identical trajectories – before a Jake Moberg sac fly and Kyle Cuellar walk set up Perez's blast.
From there, Caulfield delivered three straight RBIs to stretch the Bruins' lead.
First in the fourth, he punished the Lions for back-to-back one-out walks, stroking a base hit to left field to score redshirt freshman center Tommy Beres – making just his second career start – from second.
Two innings later he ambushed a first-pitch fastball from Holden Christian and sent it over the wall – just to the right of LMU's Blue Monster in left field – for a two-run homer.
Caulfield's blast came amid LMU's string of six consecutive scoring innings, as the hosts kept chipping away starting in the fourth, with single-run rallies punctuated by two-spots in the fifth and ninth. Dennis, Kenny Oyama, and Matt Voelker had multiple RBIs during the would-be comeback attempt for the Lions.
UCLA freshman right-hander Jake Brooks earned his first career win for UCLA after starting the game and delivering 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He retired the first six batters he faced and exited the contest after striking out Lambeau in the third. The Bruins ultimately used six relievers to finish off the contest.
UCLA returns to action this weekend with a home-and-away series against UC Santa Barbara. The Bruins host the Gauchos on Friday night and Sunday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium, and head to Caesar Uyesaka Stadium for a road contest on Saturday. All three games of the series will be streamed by the respective home team.