Bruins Top Army, 13-6, in Lubbock Regional
LUBBOCK, Texas – No. 21 UCLA scored three runs in the top of the first and never looked back in a 13-6 Lubbock Regional elimination game win over (4) Army West Point on Saturday afternoon at Rip Griffin Field.
With the win, (2) UCLA will face the loser of today's (1) Texas Tech-(3) North Carolina matchup in another elimination game on Sunday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. PT. TV information is pending, but the contest will be streamed on ESPN.com/watch.
The Bruins (36-19) led wire-to-wire in the contest, putting up a three-spot in the first then responding to a two-run Army (28-25) home run by scoring in five consecutive frames to pull away.
Five separate Bruins had multiple hits on Saturday, led by three-hit performances from junior catcher Noah Cardenas (3-3, two HBPs, two RBIs) and senior DH Kyle Cuellar (3-5, two RBIs). Junior shortstop Matt McLain (2-5, team-high three RBIs), redshirt sophomore first baseman JT Schwartz (2-4, two RBIs), and freshman center fielder JonJon Vaughns (2-5, two runs) all had solid days with the bat as well.
UCLA got the first five batters of the game aboard as part of that first-run rally. Junior left fielder Kevin Kendall led off with a walk before three consecutive singles from Jarron Silva, McLain, and Schwartz brought in all three runs.
Army, who was serving as the home team, briefly made it a one-run game after a two-run blast from Sam Ruta in the second made it 3-2.
UCLA took control of the game after Ruta's roundtripper however, putting runs on the board in five consecutive innings to outscore the Black Knights 10-4 the rest of the way.
Small ball produced the single run in the third, as Schwartz worked a seven-pitch leadoff walk, moved to third on a hit-and-run Cuellar single, then came in on a successful Kyle Karros safety squeeze.
McLain came through with a two-run double in the fourth, smoking a grounder down the third base line and into the left field corner, nearly identical to his first-inning two-bagger against North Carolina on Friday night.
UCLA sent eight batters to the plate as part of a three-run fifth, with key hits including an RBI double down the right field line from Kendall and a two-run base hit from Cuellar through the 3-4 hole.
The Bruins finished off the offensive assault with a single run in the sixth – scored when JonJon Vaughns reached on a squeeze bunt attempt for an RBI single – followed by a three-spot an inning later highlighted by an opposite field JT Schwartz leadoff homer and a two-run single from Cardenas.
On the pitching side, UCLA had to deal with a scrappy Army offense that kept throwing punches over the course of the game, finishing with 13 hits.
Starter Sean Mullen tossed an unconventional 1-2-3 top of the first – he retired the first two batters of the inning before the third was called out on appeal after missing the first base bag on a would-be double – but ultimately surrendered three earned over 3 2/3 innings.
The UCLA bullpen did a nice job collectively to keep the Black Knights at bay, limiting them to three runs over the final 5 1/3 frames.
Kyle Mora in particular was excellent, allowing just two hits and striking out three over 2 1/3 innings.
His entrance into the game coincided with a stop in offensive momentum for Army. When he came on, Army had already scored three runs in the fifth and was still threatening with runners on the corners and two outs. Mora responded with an inning-ending lineout to escape the jam, went 1-2-3 in the sixth, and pitched around a one-out double in the seventh.
Overall, he and Adrian Chaidez – who completed the final two innings of the contest – combined to hold Army to three hits over 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Mora was awarded the win to improve to 2-1.
Ray Bartoli took the loss for the Black Knights after surrendering six earned on seven hits over 3 1/3.
Ruta went 3-3 with four RBIs to pace Army offensively, but the first seven batters in the order all collected at least one hit.
Stay tuned to @UCLABaseball on Twitter for all team updates this weekend.
B3 | Mikey Perez turns a hit into a double play, and we're out of the inning without any damage!
UCLA 4, Army 2
— UCLA Baseball (@UCLABaseball) June 5, 2021