The Pac-12 champions are heading into the postseason riding a 10-game winning streak.
No. 1 UCLA baseball (47-8, 24-5 Pac-12) capped off the regular season with its seventh sweep of the year, defeating Oregon (27-29, 10-19) 6-5 on Friday. The Bruins will enter the postseason having won every weekend series on the season for the first time in program history, setting a school record for most conference wins in the process.
“They gave us a good test on the road in an unfamiliar environment,” said sophomore right-hander Holden Powell. “I think we can come out pretty satisfied about how we played coming off those close games.”
The Bruins’ sweep of the Ducks extended their winning streak to 10 games – their longest of the season. UCLA is 12-1 during the month of May and ended the regular season sweeping its final three Pac-12 series.
“I liked the month of May,” said coach John Savage. “I thought it was challenging and we played a lot on the road and we responded, so I think we’re ready for the postseason.”
The Bruins took an early lead in the third, putting up six runs and earning 11 at-bats in the inning. UCLA had six hits to go with its six runs, highlighted by a two-out, three-RBI double into the left-center gap by freshman catcher Noah Cardenas.
“I think (junior outfielder Jeremy Ydens) did a great job scoring from first,” Cardenas said. “It ended up being in the difference, so that was huge.”
Oregon came back in the home half of the third, scoring twice to cut UCLA’s lead to four. The two runs allowed by redshirt junior right-hander Jack Ralston broke his 27-inning scoreless streak dating back to April 27.
“We put up a lot of runs for (Ralston) on the mound and we’ve been good at staying loose while we’re hitting,” Cardenas said. “(Ralston) loves it when we score runs, so he doesn’t have a lot of problems usually rebounding.”
However, the Ducks kept chipping at the lead, leading off the fourth with three consecutive base hits for the second straight inning. An RBI double by right fielder Jakob Goldfarb and RBI fielder’s choice by catcher Cameron Campbell cut the Bruins’ lead in half.
Ralston finished his night going six innings, allowing four earned runs and striking out 10 Ducks. The redshirt junior finished the season 11-0 with the win Friday.
In the eighth inning, junior right-hander Kyle Mora entered the game with a two-run lead in the eighth inning, but he walked three batters and only recorded one out. Savage pulled Mora with the bases load, turning to Powell for the five-out save.
Powell would walk in a run but recovered with back-to-back strikeouts to end the eighth, and three straight strikeouts in the ninth earning him his Pac-12-leading 16th save on the season.
“(Powell)’s got 16 saves for a reason,” Savage said. “He likes that big-game situation and he likes to close games out. He’s had his ups and downs, but for the most part, he’s been fantastic.”
UCLA’s regular season finale against the Ducks was canceled due to rain Saturday.
The Bruins will find out Sunday if they are one of the top eight national seeds and whether they will host a regional next weekend. UCLA’s regional opponents will be announced when the 64-team bracket and schedule is released Monday at 9 a.m.