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UCLA Uses Big Seventh to Best UCSB, 11-3

May 16, 2021
Kyle Cuellar (photo: Scott Chandler)

LOS ANGELES – Fueled by a seven-run seventh inning featuring a grand slam from senior left fielder Kyle Cuellar and a three-run run homer from freshman center fielder JonJon Vaughns, No. 22 UCLA posted an 11-3 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium to clinch the series.

The Bruins (30-16) rallied to win the final two games of the split-venue series after dropping Friday night's opener. UCLA responded with a 5-2 win in Santa Barbara on Saturday to set up the rubber match.

Sunday's contest was close until late, as the Bruins went ahead 4-1 early but allowed single runs in the fourth and fifth inning to make it a one-run game.

After a couple tense innings for both sides, UCLA blew the game wide open with a seven-run rally in the bottom of the seventh.

The Bruins set up that rally by loading the bases with one out on a Kevin Kendall base hit and a pair of walks, the latter an intentional pass to redshirt sophomore JT Schwartz that set up a big spot for Cuellar.

Falling behind 0-2, Cuellar spoiled the third pitch he saw then took three straight out of the zone to set up a 3-2 count. The Arcadia, Calif. native was ready for the ensuing payoff pitch, turning it on and sending it over the "42" decal on the right-center field wall for his first career grand slam.

The Bruins continued to rally after the slam, with the next two batters reaching on four-pitch walks. Two batters later, Vaughns made the Gauchos (31-18) pay for those free passes with a moon shot to right, his third home run of the season in just 23 games played.

UCSB had no answer after the lead-extending rally, mustering just one base hit over the remainder of the game.

The Bruin bullpen combined to toss 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball, with just two hits against. Senior righty Adrian Chaidez was the first man out of the 'pen and earned the win with 1 2/3 frames of hit-free relief. Daniel Colwell and Michael Townsend were also unscored upon, and freshman righty Max Rajcic went three-up, three-down in the ninth in a non-save situation.

The Gauchos opened the scoring on Sunday, cashing in a leadoff walk in the first inning for a single run, but the Bruins responded with a run in the bottom half of the first before going ahead for good with three runs an inning later.

Schwartz provided the answer for UCLA in the bottom half of the first, scorching an 0-1 offering over the scoreboard in right-center for a game-tying home run.

Kevin Kendall drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the second, bouncing a chopper over the first baseman's head for an RBI single. The next batter, Michael Curialle, rolled a base hit up the middle to score two more, including the eventual game-winning run.

The Bruins return to action on Tuesday night with a home midweek contest against Nevada (21-17). It marks the final Tuesday game of the regular season for UCLA.