UCLA Baseball: After Series Win vs UCI, Bruins Host Cal State Fullerton in Midweek Clash
The Bruins play the Titans in three of their next five games.
This evening at Jackie Robinson Stadium, the UCLA baseball team (4-3) hosts the Cal State Fullerton Titans (3-3) in the Bruins’ second midweek contest of the season. First pitch is at 5 pm PT and the game can be streamed live at Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app.
As an aside, let me say that, thankfully, in the year 2021, UCLA is finally streaming live baseball games from JRS. It was long overdue and has always seemed to be a no-brainer at UCLA, a school with such a renowned School of Theater, Film and Television, and it only took a pandemic to do it.
Although I do not know who was directly responsible for this decision, it happened on Athletic Director Marvin Jarmond’s watch. So, I will direct my thanks toward him. Thank you, Mr. Jarmond! It’s great to watch UCLA baseball on a consistent basis!
Last Time Out
UCLA played perhaps its best baseball game of the season on Sunday afternoon, shutting out the UC Irvine Anteaters, 4-0, and earning the series win. It was an important game, in my opinion, coming off of a disappointing 7-3 loss the night before.
Not all of UCLA’s woes were cured with the win. For one, the Bruins’ team batting average actually dropped to .218 as a result of the game, but a great pitching performance by UCLA starter Nick Nastrini, great work by the bullpen, combined with a couple of timely clutch hits by Jarron Silva and Kyle Karros carried the day for the Bruins.
UCLA scored a run in the first inning on a bases loaded sacrifice fly by sophomore Michael Curialle, but could do no further damage, stranding two runners on base. It would remain a 1-0 game until the bottom of the seventh inning when UCLA would tack on three more runs.
With two outs and Curialle on second, pinch hitter Jarron Silva singled to center field to drive in the run, making the score 2-0. Silva then stole second, and the Anteaters made the decision to intentionally walk light-hitting Jack Filby to get to the even lighter hitting freshman Kyle Karros, who came into the at-bat batting just .125. So, naturally, Karros drove the ball deep and off the wall in left field for a two-run double, doubling the score to 4-0. What a moment for Karros!
On the other side of the ledger, the UCLA pitching was very good, scattering three hits among the four arms used. Nastrini (1-1) only allowed one hit through six innings, but he walked five. That included walking the bases loaded in the third inning, although he got out of that jam by getting the third out with a three-pitch swinging strikeout. The junior righty had a total of seven strikeouts in the outing.
Michael Townsend, Kyle Mora, and Sean Mullen pitched the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, respectively, with Mora and Mullen each allowing lead-off singles, but then retiring the side without any damage.
Cal State Fullerton
This will be the Titans’ first midweek game of the season. Interestingly, UCLA will play them two more times in the next seven days. The Bruins face them again this Saturday at JRS and then next Tuesday at Goodwin Field, UCLA’s second road game of the 2020-2021 campaign.
So far, CSUF has won a weekend series in Fullerton against Utah and lost a weekend series on the road against the University of San Diego. The Titans won on Sunday, 5-1, to avoid the series sweep at the hands of the Toreros.
Cal State Fullerton is hitting .285 on the season, more than 65 points above the Bruins. Junior outfielder Jason Brandow is hitting .450 with five RBIs. So, UCLA will try to keep him quiet. The Titans have hit four home runs in eight games, compared to just one by UCLA.
The Titans have an impressive 2.92 team ERA, but the guy who matters the most is the tonight’s expected starting pitcher for CSUF, Christian Rodriguez (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Rodriguez, a freshman, has made two appearances in his college career. First, he came into a low-pressure, 14-1 game the Titans were winning against Utah and only gave up two hits in three innings. He also faced one batter with two outs and two on base in the 5-1 win over San Diego on Sunday, inducing the third out in the eighth inning on a pop-up to third base. This will be Rodriguez’s first start of his college career.
UCLA will counter with Sean Mullen (1-0, 0.96 ERA). Mullen pitched well in last week’s midweek game against LMU, going 7-1/3 innings, allowing five hits and two unearned runs while striking out seven without surrendering a walk. Mullen has also appeared twice in the ninth inning to close out UCLA wins in non-save situations, including Sunday’s victory over UCI. Is Mullen the closer? Is he the mid-week starter? Both? Time will tell.
Anything can happen in a mid-week game, but I am giving an edge to the Bruins solely based upon the experience of the respective starting pitchers. This is Fullerton’s first midweek game. So, there is no barometer to determine how far Rodriguez will pitch into the game and whether the Titans plan on a “committee” approach to such games.
#8 UCLA Baseball (4-3)
Opponent: Cal State Fullerton Titans (3-3)
Game Time: 5:00 pm PT, Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Where: Jackie Robinson Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Projected Pitching Matchup:
UCLA - Sean Mullen, RHP, Jr. (1-0, 0.96 ERA)
CSUF - Christian Rodriguez, RHP, Fr. (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
This is your UCLA vs. Cal State Fullerton mid-week game open thread.