UCLA baseball set to face UC Santa Barbara in midweek matchup
Members of UCLA baseball watch a game from the dugout in a game on March 13 against USC at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins will be taking on UC Santa Barbara at home Tuesday. (Finn Chitwood/Daily Bruin)
UC Santa Barbara
Tuesday, 6 p.m.
Jackie Robinson Stadium
By Jay Fenn
March 29, 2022 3:35 p.m.
The Bruins will put their midweek winning streak on the line fresh off a series win over a ranked opponent.
Two days after taking down then-No. 11 Arizona, UCLA baseball (15-8, 3-3 Pac-12) will return to Jackie Robinson Stadium to take on UC Santa Barbara (16-5, 5-1 Big West) on Tuesday night. The contest against the Gauchos will serve as a tune-up match before the Bruins take on No. 21 Oregon for a three-game series this weekend.
Sophomore right-hander Jake Brooks – who allowed two runs across 6.2 innings to open the series against the Wildcats on Friday – said the Bruins will look to build off the momentum they gained this past weekend in Tucson.
“(We) just want to stick to the approach that we had this weekend,” Brooks said. “We’re not taking them (UCSB) lightly because they’re a good ball club. We just want to make sure we take it pitch by pitch.”
While UCLA has had a majority of its midweek games against teams with a losing record – including Loyola Marymount, Omaha and Cal State Fullerton – the Gauchos are coming off an NCAA regionals appearance a year ago. UCSB is led by infielder Jordan Sprinkle, who was named to USA Baseball’s Preseason Golden Spikes watch list.
Coach John Savage said playing at UCLA comes with facing intense competition year round.
“We have a very tough week ahead of us with Santa Barbara and Oregon,” Savage said. “That’s the challenge of playing in the Pac-12 and playing in Southern California. Your midweek games are filled with top-notch postseason teams.”
Taking the mound for the Bruins will be redshirt sophomore Kelly Austin. The right-hander has started five games so far this year and has garnered a 3.00 ERA, with his sole win coming from an upset over then-No. 1 Texas on March 6.
After hitting the go-ahead two-run home run Sunday against Arizona, junior outfielder/left-hander Josh Hahn said the Bruins need to continue to do what they have been doing at both the mound and the plate to be successful.
“We’ve just got to be mature and keep our level head,” Hahn said. “They’re going to come in with their best game, and we got to meet them with our game. … (We want to) back each other up and fight for the win.”
After having eight freshmen see the field over the weekend, Savage said the underclassmen will continue to improve with the experience they get.
“It’s an opportunity for us to build our depth and another opportunity to grow as a team,” Savage said.
First pitch will be Tuesday at 6 p.m.