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Former Bruins come back to triumph over UCLA baseball in annual alumni event

UCLA baseball players watch a game from the dugout. The Bruins fell to the UCLA alumni team visiting Jackie Robinson Stadium on Saturday for the annual alumni game. (Marc-Anthony Rosas/Daily Bruin)

By Joseph Crosby

Feb. 6, 2022 5:26 p.m.

A late-inning comeback propelled the Bruins of old past the current squad.

UCLA baseball fell to the team of Bruin alumni visiting Jackie Robinson Stadium on Saturday in the return of the annual alumni game. The current Bruins lost 11-6 behind four- and seven-run innings from the alumni in the seventh and eighth frames, respectively.

The Bruins’ pitching staff started the contest with three no-hit innings by junior right-hander Charles Harrison. Junior left-hander Jake Saum and freshman right-hander Luke Jewett combined to pitch the next three innings, holding the alumni hitless through five innings and scoreless through six.

“I thought Charles threw the ball real well,” said coach John Savage. “(I) felt Luke threw the ball real well, Jake (too).”

The Bruins’ lead began to falter in the seventh inning as the alumni scored four runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter to cut the lead from six to two.

The following inning, the alumni secured the comeback behind seven runs, all scored with no outs. The inning was headlined by a three-run homer by third baseman Chase Strumpf, a second-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft after playing three years at UCLA.

Savage said finishing games and resiliency will be an important focus for the Bruins going forward.

“Somebody’s got to make a pitch. Somebody’s got to make a play, and clearly, we didn’t do that,” Savage said. “We played pretty well for 6 1/2 innings, but it’s a nine-inning game.”

On the offensive side, young players and transfers alike showed up at the plate for the current Bruins. Graduate student left fielder Kenny Oyama, a transfer from Loyola Maryount, started the game with a triple off former UCLA right-hander Zach Pettway. Oyama scored on freshman shortstop Cody Schrier’s double in the next at-bat.

The transfer finished the contest a home run away from the cycle, adding a stolen base and a long running catch in left field. Schrier recorded another double while freshman center fielder Malakhi Knight manufactured a run of his own by scoring on a passed ball after doubling.

“You saw the future with Knight and (freshman designated hitter Ethan) Gourson and Schrier,” Savage said. “We have a lot of really, really good young players. I think everybody knows that.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the annual alumni game from being played in 2021, Savage said it was beneficial to hold the game this year to get experience for the regular season.

“It’s a really good opportunity for us to kind of get our feet wet in front of a crowd,” Savage said. “We feel like we have a lot of depth. … We’re still trying to see what we have, so this gives us a little feel for things.”

UCLA will lead off its season with a three-game home series against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 18.

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Joseph Crosby | Assistant Sports editor
Crosby is a 2022-2023 assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. He was previously a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a third-year statistics student.
Crosby is a 2022-2023 assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. He was previously a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a third-year statistics student.
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