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Baseball Notches 5-4 Midweek Win Over Titans

Mar 8, 2022
Michael Curialle (photo: Ross Turteltaub)

LOS ANGELES – Junior third baseman Michael Curialle opened and closed the scoring with RBI doubles as No. 15 UCLA recorded a 5-4 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The Bruins (9-4) never trailed in the contest, taking a 3-0 lead by the end of the second. The Titans (2-9) did tie it at 4-4 late with three unearned runs in the seventh, but some clutch baserunning and a go-ahead RBI double from Curialle brought in the game-winning score in the bottom of the eighth.

"It wasn't a clean game by no means, but you have to be able to win these types of games," said UCLA head coach John Savage. "You have to win a lot of different types of games. We have been playing a lot of pretty clean games, we've pitched and played defense. Tonight clearly wasn't one of them. Fullerton was ready to play."

Curialle (2-5, two RBIs) had half of the Bruins' four doubles as a team on Tuesday, with Tommy Beres and Jake Palmer also collecting two-baggers.

The Bruins took advantage of a Cal State Fullerton miscue to get on the board in the bottom of the first, as freshman shortstop Cody Schrier reached on a two-out error and then promptly came around when Curialle found the left-center field gap for his first double of the game.

UCLA stretched the lead to 3-0 in the very next inning, stringing together four singles as part of a two-run rally. Graduate left fielder Kenny Oyama and Palmer collected RBI base hits during the frame. The Bruins added a run in the sixth on doubles from Beres and Palmer.

Oyama sparked the decisive rally in the bottom of the eighth, reaching on a leadoff walk and moving to second on a sac bunt. He was almost caught stealing later in the inning, but made a nice play to retreat back to the second base bag after Fullerton threw ahead of him on a pick-off play. That allowed him to come across for the game-winning run a few batters latter when Curialle shot a liner to right field for a go-ahead double.

Freshman right-hander Thatcher Hurd led a strong collective pitching performance for UCLA, drawing the start and striking out seven batters over 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball. The reigning National Pitcher of the Week recorded multiple strikeouts in both the first and fourth innings, and has now fanned 35 batters this season in just 18 innings.

Junior left-hander Jake Saum followed Hurd out of the bullpen, and delivered 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. He wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, denying CSF any runs in what was one of their best offensive opportunities of the night. 

Freshman left-hander Ethan Flanagan tossed the final 1 2/3 innings of the game without allowing a hit, and was rewarded with the win to move to 2-0 on the year.

Cal State Fullerton was led by first baseman Brendan Bobo, who went 3-4 with a double. The Titans ended up using eight different pitchers in the contest.

UCLA continues a seven-game homestand this weekend, hosting crosstown rival USC in the first Pac-12 series of the campaign. All three games of the series will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks, starting at 5:00 p.m. on Friday evening.