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UCLA baseball to face Washington State in final home series of season

No. 23 UCLA baseball supports its teammates from the dugout in a game April 15. The Bruins will take on Washington State in their final home series of the season starting Friday. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)


Washington State
Friday, 7 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
Pac-12 Los Angeles
Washington State
Saturday, 2 p.m.

Jackie Robinson
Pac-12 Los Angeles
Washington State
Sunday, noon

Jackie Robinson Stadium
Pac-12 Los Angeles

By Joseph Crosby

May 12, 2022 1:25 a.m.

The Bruins will take their final swings of the season at Jackie Robinson Stadium in their last home series of the year.

No. 23 UCLA baseball (30-18, 14-10 Pac-12) is set to begin its penultimate regular-season series against Washington State (22-23, 9-15) at home starting Friday. The series will be the Bruins’ last at Jackie Robinson Stadium this year before closing out the season on the road against Oregon State.

Coach John Savage said a strong finish at home will be important as the team looks ahead to the postseason.

“We’re fighting for the playoffs,” Savage said. “That’s the most important thing right now, is that we put ourselves in a good position for the Pac-12 tournament and get some momentum going into that thing.”

The Bruins hold a 19-9 record in their ballpark and will have a chance to surpass their 2021 home record of 21-9 this weekend. Graduate student outfielder Kenny Oyama said the team hopes to close out the season with a bang in its last time playing in front of the Bruin faithful this year.

“We got to take care of our home series,” Oyama said. “We got to protect Jackie. We just got to go out there, play with our hair on fire, play for the fans that come out to support us.”

UCLA currently sits at fourth in the Pac-12 standings with the same conference record as third-place Arizona but a worse overall record. Washington State, on the other hand, is 10th in the conference and one game ahead of last-place USC.

The Cougars are currently on a five-game winning streak after a series win against USC and a sweep of Utah Valley. UCLA, on the other hand, were recently swept by Washington and are riding a five-game losing streak.

Junior outfielder/left-hander Josh Hahn said strengthening team cohesion will be the key to moving past the recent stretch of losses.

“We just got to get back to ourselves,” Hahn said. “We got to get tighter, get closer to each other and keep forming this bond of brothers. Don’t be looking down at the social media and other news. Just keep with ourselves, and we got to get back to our brand of baseball.”

The Bruins have dealt with a string of injuries to the pitching staff, forcing sophomore right-hander Max Rajcic into the role of starter on Friday in place of sophomore right-hander Jake Brooks, while Rajcic’s Saturday role has been taken over by freshman left-hander Ethan Flanagan.

The southpaw – who held a 1.88 ERA prior to his start against Arizona State on April 30 – allowed six runs, including four earned, in four innings across two starts against the Sun Devils and Huskies.

Savage said the injury struggles have been a test for both coaches and players.

“Part of coaching is adapting and making sure that you get guys prepared,” Savage said. “We haven’t been in this position in a long time, with this many guys down. … It’s certainly challenging, for sure, but there is certainly opportunity for other guys.”

The first game of the series against the Cougars will begin Friday at 7 p.m.

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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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