Behind a dominating performance on the mound from sophomore James Kaprielian, the 19th-ranked UCLA Baseball team defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 2-1, on Friday night at Coleman Field at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C.
Kaprielian struck out a career-high 11 batters in eight outstanding innings, allowing only one hit as well to earn his second straight win. Sean Fitzgerald took the loss for the Fighting Irish, lasting six innings while giving up two runs (one earned) and striking out seven. Junior David Berg picked up the save for UCLA after holding the lead in the ninth inning.
The Bruins jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first, scratching a run across off of Fitzgerald. Senior Brian Carroll led off by getting hit by a pitch before stealing second with nobody out. Two batters later, junior Shane Zeile hit one through the left side to move Carroll over to third, bringing up sophomore Ty Moore. Moore then knocked in Carroll with a groundout to third to put the Bruins on top by one.
UCLA made it 2-0 in the top of the second with a little help from the Fighting Irish defense. Sophomore Christoph Bono got the inning started by reaching base on an error by second baseman Cavan Biggio and eventually moved to second when senior Pat Gallagher got hit by a pitch. After a bunt moved the runners up, Bono came home to score on a passed ball by Notre Dame catcher Forrest Johnson, giving UCLA a two-run lead.
From there both pitchers took over, keeping the opposing offense silent. Kaprielian in particular was in a groove from the get-go though, not allowing a hit through his first 4.2 innings pitched. He also struck out nine of the first 17 Notre Dame batters while allowing only two Fighting Irish base runners to reach second base through the first five innings. He got stronger as the game went along, retiring nine consecutive batters from innings six through eight to keep UCLA’s lead at 2-0.
Then in the ninth, Berg entered and ran into some trouble. Berg allowed a walk and a single to put runners on first and second with nobody out, but recovered by getting Ryan Youngdahl to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to get two crucial outs in the inning. The next batter was pinch-hitter Mac Hudgins, who singled to left to score Notre Dame’s first run of the ballgame and cut UCLA’s lead to one. That would be all the Irish would get though as Berg picked off Hudgins at first base on the next at-bat to end the ballgame and give the Bruins the win.
Bono and Zeile provided the hits for the Bruins while Carroll and Bono added a run apiece. Biggio, Blaise Lezynski and Lane Richards had Notre Dame’s only three hits of the ballgame.
UCLA (5-4) will continue its play in the USA Baseball-Irish Classic tomorrow as the Bruins square off against No. 6 North Carolina State (8-1) at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C. First pitch is slated for 1:30 p.m. PT.
Game Notes: James Kaprielian’s eight innings were also a career-high for the sophomore right-hander...his only hit allowed was a single to center in the fifth inning by Lane Richards…through his first three collegiate starts, Kaprielian has posted a 0.90 ERA and struck out 27 batters in 20 innings pitched…Kaprielian’s 11 strikeouts were the most by a UCLA pitcher since Nick Vander Tuig struck out 11 batters against New Mexico on June 5, 2012…David Berg logged his 27th career save and his 108th career appearance tonight…Shane Zeile raised his average to a team-leading .379 with his 1-2 game…UCLA extended its streak of a batter getting hit by pitch to nine straight games with its three hit batters tonight...Brian Carroll has also now drawn four hit by pitches in the last three games...in the last two seasons UCLA is now 19-3 in one-run ballgames.