Schwartz Headlines UCLA's Six All-Conference Honorees
Redshirt sophomore JT Schwartz was crowned the Pac-12 regular season Batting Champion and six Bruins garnered all-league status as the Pac-12 announced its Postseason Baseball Honors on Thursday afternoon.
Alongside Schwartz, junior shortstop Matt McLain, junior catcher Noah Cardenas, freshman closer Max Rajcic, senior right-hander Adrian Chaidez, and junior right-hander Sean Mullen were each named to the 2021 Pac-12 All-Conference Team.
In addition, redshirt junior outfielder Kevin Kendall and junior righty Jesse Bergin received all-conference honorable mentions.
UCLA's six all-league recipients were the third-most of any Pac-12 squad, trailing only Oregon (eight) and Arizona (seven).
It is the first career All-Pac-12 honor for all of the Bruins that were decorated, though Cardenas was an All-Defensive Team honorable mention as a true freshman in 2019. There were no postseason honors for the conference after the truncated 2020 campaign.
Schwartz was one of the most dangerous hitters on the west coast after returning to the UCLA lineup in early March, as he enters the postseason with a .405/.528/.635 slash line over 40 games. He also leads the team in RBIs despite missing 13 games in the regular season. He's aiming to become the seventh Bruin all-time to bat .400 in a season and the first since 2001 (Brian Baron's school-record .443).
McLain continued swinging a hot bat after a breakout sophomore 2020 season, as he ranked among UCLA's team leaders in practically every offensive category over the course of the regular season. He's set a number of career highs so far this year, including home runs (nine), extra-base hits (21), runs (43), walks (31), and stolen bases (nine).
Rajcic has burst onto the scene this season as a true freshman, crafting a 1.55 ERA over 22 appearances. The Bruins' closer, he has seven saves to this point of the season, and is striking out over a batter per inning (33 in 29 innings). Standout efforts include May 15 against UC Santa Barbara (faced the minimum in a seven-out save situation) and May 22 against Cal (struck out all five batters he faced).
Likewise Chaidez has been stellar out of the UCLA pen this year, posting team-bests in both ERA (1.03) and strikeouts per nine innings (14.0). He's allowed just three runs over 27 appearances, and is unscored upon in 21 of his last 22 outings dating back to Mar. 28.
Starting off the year as a hybrid closer/midweek starter, Mullen excelled and then transitioned to the weekend rotation where he continued to perform. Entering the postseason, Mullen is the Pac-12 leader in wins (9-1) with a 3.19 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. He's logged an ERA of 2.31 as a starter so far in 2021, including standout outings against LMU on Feb. 23 (7.1 IP, 0 ER, 7 K) and Cal State Fullerton on Mar. 9 (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 10 K).
No. 21-ranked and No. 2 seed UCLA opens postseason play at the Lubbock Regional on Friday afternoon, facing (3) North Carolina at 4:00 p.m. PT on ESPNU. The Regional field is rounded out by host (1) Texas Tech and (4) Army West Point.