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UCLA baseball braces for battle with No. 2 Beavers

Members of No. 23 UCLA baseball stand in the dugout. The Bruins are set to close out the regular season with a series against No. 2 Oregon State in Corvallis. (Jason Zhu/Daily Bruin staff)

Baseball


Oregon State
Thursday, 6 p.m.

Corvallis
Pac-12 Networks
Oregon State
Friday, 6 p.m.

Corvallis
Pac-12 Los Angeles
Oregon State
Saturday, 12 p.m.

Corvallis
Pac-12 Networks

By Jay Fenn

May 18, 2022 10:27 p.m.

With the regular-season Pac-12 title on the line, the Bruins will travel to Corvallis to take on one of the top teams in the country.

No. 23 UCLA baseball (33-19, 17-10 Pac-12) will head north to take on No. 2 Oregon State (40-11, 19-8) in a three-game series starting Thursday to close out the regular season. The Beavers are the highest-ranked opponents for the Bruins since March 6, when they knocked off then-No. 1 Texas.

Coach John Savage said his team won’t change its approach to the series just because of the Beavers’ high ranking.

“(We’re looking at this weekend) like any other weekend. We look at every weekend the same,” Savage said.

UCLA currently sits at third in the Pac-12 standings, two games back of first-place Oregon State and one game back of second-place Stanford – who took 2-of-3 games from the blue and gold in April. Should the Bruins sweep the Beavers and the Cardinal lose at least once to the Trojans, UCLA will clinch a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title.

Sophomore infielder Daylen Reyes said the opportunity to compete for the Pac-12 championship is fueling the Bruins ahead of the weekend.

“We’re excited, and we’re ready to go,” Reyes said. “I know it’s highly anticipated to have a chance to compete for the Pac-12 title.”

If UCLA does end up at the top of the Pac-12 standings at the end of the regular season, it will be the top seed heading into the inaugural Pac-12 tournament.

Sophomore right-hander Caedon Kottinger – who made his collegiate debut Tuesday – said the Bruins are not letting the moment get too big for them.

“Oregon State is super competitive, obviously. They have a lot to show for it this year,” Kottinger said. “We’re just going to take it pitch by pitch and play our game. We just got to take it one day at a time.”

Sophomore right-hander Max Rajcic will toe the rubber Thursday night for the Bruins, going head-to-head with the Beavers’ left-hander Cooper Hjerpe – who leads the Pac-12 in strikeouts by 34 punch outs. Freshman left-hander Ethan Flanagan will take the mound Friday, followed by redshirt sophomore Kelly Austin to close out the series.

First pitch for Thursday’s and Friday’s games will be at 6 p.m., and the series finale will kick off at noon.

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Jay Fenn | Sports staff
Fenn is currently a Sports staffer on the baseball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat and a contributor on the beach volleyball and men's and women's golf beats.
Fenn is currently a Sports staffer on the baseball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat and a contributor on the beach volleyball and men's and women's golf beats.
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