UCLA baseball secures 2nd Pac-12 series of season with victory over Oregon
Redshirt sophomore catcher Tommy Beres swings at a pitch in a game against USC at Jackie Robinson Stadium on March 12. Beres recorded his first multi-hit game of the season against Oregon in UCLA baseball’s win over the Ducks on Saturday. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)
|No. 21 Oregon||2|
|No. 21 Oregon||3|
By Joseph Crosby
April 3, 2022 11:05 a.m.
Back-to-back one-run victories clinched the second consecutive ranked series win for the Bruins.
UCLA baseball (18-8, 5-3 Pac-12) defeated No. 21 Oregon (18-9, 7-4 Pac-12) by scores of 3-2 on Friday and 4-3 on Saturday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The wins marked the second series victory against a ranked Pac-12 team for UCLA, which took two of three from then-No. 11 Arizona on the road last weekend.
Coach John Savage said two key aspects have played a part in the Bruins’ success.
“We’re about pitching and defense,” Savage said. “The last two nights, we’ve done both pretty well.”
Sophomore right-hander Jake Brooks covered eight innings in the series opener Friday, allowing two runs and recording the win. Freshman left-hander Gage Jump notched the save while striking out one in the final frame.
Savage said the efficiency of his pitchers was memorable.
“Jake threw 86 pitches (Friday), and Gage threw 11,” Savage said. “I don’t know when the last time we’ve gone nine innings in less than 100 pitches is. That’s not easy to do.”
Brooks’ outing brought his ERA to 2.12, which ranks seventh in the conference. His 46.2 innings pitched is also the most of any pitcher across the Pac-12.
“I’ve been catching Jake Brooks every Friday – that guy’s been lights out,” said redshirt sophomore catcher Tommy Beres. “He’s really taken control of his season.”
Like Brooks on Friday, sophomore right-hander Max Rajcic allowed his only runs of Saturday night on a two-run home run. Rajcic tossed six innings for the blue and gold, recording six strikeouts without walking a batter – all season-bests for the sophomore.
Savage said he was impressed by Rajcic’s start and development as a starting pitcher after coming out of the bullpen last season.
“It was a major statement,” Savage said. “He knew that he needed to step up, … and he did, against a very good team.”
Freshman left-hander Ethan Flanagan covered 2.2 of the remaining three innings but was pulled after a pair of two-out singles put the tying run on first in the ninth inning. Savage called on redshirt sophomore right-hander Kelly Austin to record the final out of the game.
Austin gave up another single to his first batter but recorded a strikeout to end the game, stranding two runners while picking up his first save of the season.
Offensively, a three-run sixth frame propelled the Bruins to their win Friday night. Sophomore right fielder JonJon Vaughns tied the game at two apiece with a two-run homer, while an RBI single by graduate student left fielder Kenny Oyama gave the Bruins a lead they would hold for the rest of the game.
Another three-run frame gave UCLA its lead Saturday, beginning with Beres scoring in the fifth inning on a double by freshman center fielder Malakhi Knight.
The catcher led UCLA on offense Saturday, picking up his first multi-hit game of the season while also scoring twice and laying down a late-inning sacrifice bunt. Beres said the series win inspires confidence in the team, but it wasn’t unexpected.
“We deserve to be ranked,” Beres said. “It’s not really a surprise to us that we’re coming out and beating these teams. … We’re coming out looking for a sweep this weekend.”
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