The Bruins have the chance to extend their longest winning streak of the season.
No. 1 UCLA baseball (28-6, 9-3 Pac-12) will host California (19-12, 7-5) in a three-game series starting Thursday night. The Bruins are riding a season-high seven-game winning streak, having already won five straight on two other occasions this season.
Following a walk-off defeat against then-No. 2 Stanford on April 5, UCLA has yet to lose a game and is beating its opponents by an average of 3.4 runs.
UCLA took the final two games against then-No. 2 Stanford, defeated then-No. 16 UC Irvine on April 9 and swept then-No. 8 East Carolina over the weekend. A win over Pepperdine on Monday lengthened the streak to seven.
Junior first baseman Michael Toglia said his team treats every opponent the same because every win is counted equally.
“There’s no separate win column for top-10 games,” Toglia said. “It shows we’re going to bring our best game to anyone we play, whether it’s top-10, conference or nonconference.”
Although it has yet to be ranked this season, Cal has won eight of its last nine games, including sweeps against Long Beach State and Washington State and a series victory over Arizona. The Golden Bears have defeated their opponents by an average of over five runs over that span.
The Golden Bears are led by first baseman Andrew Vaughn – MLB Pipeline’s No. 3 2019 MLB Draft prospect. The junior leads his team with a .364/.541/.701 slash line, 1.242 OPS, 10 home runs and 37 walks, and is tied for first with 32 RBIs.
The Bruins boast their own high-profile first baseman in Toglia, who is coming off a career week that earned him the UCLA/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week award.
Toglia went 7-for-15 over the perfect 4-0 stretch, with four extra-base hits and a .467/.569/1.000 slash line. The junior posted a five-RBI game Friday night against East Carolina before launching a three-run, walk-off home run in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
“Toglia’s really swinging the hot bat right now,” said coach John Savage. “Toglia has been a really good player in our program for three years and was off to a relatively slow start. But to his credit, he’s finding that groove.”
If the Bruins sweep the Golden Bears, they would pass the 2010 team for having the best 37-game start in the John Savage era. That squad lost in the College World Series championship.
Junior third baseman Ryan Kreidler said the team’s postseason aspirations are aided by competitive in-conference matchups.
“We want to play deep in the postseason, so we have to play the best teams,” Kreidler said. “I think the Pac-12, this year, is so strong that we’re getting the chance to play tough teams in season and in conference.”
First pitch will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, followed by 7 p.m. Friday – with junior right-hander Ryan Garcia moving up a spot in the rotation – and 2 p.m. Saturday.