Behind seven strong innings on the mound from sophomore James Kaprielian and a 4-4 performance at the plate from freshman Luke Persico, the 12th-ranked UCLA Bruins took game one of their three-game set with No. 22 Cal Poly by a score of 5-2.
Kaprielian struck out nine in his seven innings of work to earn his first collegiate victory. Persico logged two triples among his four hits while recording a RBI as well. Sophomore Ty Moore had a multi-hit game for the Bruins as well, going 2-3 with a run and a RBI.
For the Mustangs, Matt Imhof took the loss on the mound, allowing four runs (three earned) in five innings pitched.
The Bruins took the early lead in the bottom of the first, starting when senior Brian Carroll led off the inning with a single. The next batter was Moore, who ripped a double to left, scoring Carroll and giving UCLA the 1-0 advantage.
Moore made it 2-0 in the bottom of the third, scoring on what would end up being a wild play in right field. Moore singled to right, but Cal Poly’s Nick Torres let the ball get by him, allowing Moore to move to the third. Then Torres’ throw went over the cutoff man's head, allowing Moore to round third and slide in safely to home to give UCLA a two-run lead.
After a tough first inning, Kaprielian really settled in, retiring nine consecutive hitters from innings two through four to keep the Mustangs off the board.
UCLA then gave Kaprielian some suppor in the bottom of the fourth, adding another run starting when senior Pat Gallagher led off the inning with a single to right. The next batter was Persico, who laced a triple to left-center, bringing home Gallagher to make it 3-0. Eventually Persico came around on a sacrifice fly by junior Chris Keck to give UCLA a 4-0 lead.
Kaprielian kept the Mustangs at bay again in the fifth and sixth innings as he kept UCLA’s lead at four. Cal Poly would get one back in the top of the seventh though, as Brian Mundell led off the frame with a solo shot off of Kaprielian, cutting UCLA’s lead to three. However, Kaprielian recovered to strike out the next three batters to prevent any more runs for the Mustangs.
UCLA tacked on yet another run in the bottom half of the frame, as junior Shane Zeile plated sophomore Christoph Bono with an RBI single to second to bring UCLA’s lead back up to four. Sophomore Jake Ehret pitched a scoreless eighth and junior David Berg held the lead in the ninth to finish out the game and give UCLA the 5-2 victory.
UCLA (4-1) and Cal Poly (4-1) will continue their three-game series tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. out at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Junior Grant Watson is slated to take the mound for the Bruins.
Game Notes: UCLA extended its streak of not allowing more than three runs in a ballgame to 13 consecutive games…the Bruins have won 15 of their last 17 home games dating back to last year and have posted a record of 105-41 at home since the 2010 season…James Kaprielian’s nine strikeouts were a career-high for the sophomore right-hander...Kaprielian also struck out the side on two separate occasions tonight (the second and seventh innings)…Ty Moore raised his average to a team-leading .400 through the first five games with his 2-3 performance tonight…Kort Peterson recorded his first collegiate hit in the bottom of the eighth inning…UCLA improved to 20-4 in its last 24 matchups against Big West opponents.