UCLA baseball closes out regular season with series win over No. 2 Oregon State
Sophomore center fielder Carson Yates rounds the bases after a hit. Yates’ three-run homer against No. 2 Oregon State on Saturday helped propel No. 23 UCLA baseball to a road series win. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)
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By Jay Fenn
May 22, 2022 2:01 p.m.
The Bruins have won a series in Corvallis for the first time in 12 years.
No. 23 UCLA baseball (35-20, 19-11 Pac-12) traveled up north and took two games from No. 2 Oregon State (41-13, 20-10) by scores of 4-1 and 7-4 on Thursday and Friday, respectively, before falling Saturday by a score of 9-3. With the pair of victories, the Bruins locked up the No. 3 seed in the inaugural Pac-12 tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona, starting Wednesday.
“It was a great, great way to end the season,” said sophomore right-hander Max Rajcic. “We beat the No. 2 team in the nation in a tough environment and playoff atmosphere, so that was really good to see our team do.”
Rajcic – coming off National Pitcher of the Week honors – got the start for UCLA on Thursday. The right-hander picked up where he left off from his award-winning start last week, holding an Oregon State offense that averages 7.4 runs per game to one run over six innings.
Rajcic said he’s not trying to do too much on the mound besides putting the Bruins in a position to succeed.
“I’m just trying to give my team a chance to win,” Rajcic said. “(Junior catcher) Darius (Perry) has been his working his butt off, and my offense has been helping me, giving me early runs.”
A duo of right-handers finished the game off for UCLA, beginning with junior Charles Harrison who took over for Rajcic and threw a perfect seventh inning while striking out one. Freshman Alonzo Tredwell notched his fourth save of the season after finishing off the final two frames while allowing one hit and striking out two.
The blue and gold managed two runs in six innings against Pac-12 strikeout leader Cooper Hjerpe to hand the left-hander his second loss of the season. Four different Bruins logged an RBI in the series-opening victory.
UCLA’s offense continued its success Friday, scoring seven runs highlighted by a three-run home run from sophomore center fielder Carson Yates – his fifth of the year.
Yates said he was trying to stick to his approach at the plate.
“I was just trying to stay on the fastball and hit it opposite field,” Yates said. “I saw his fastball early and just put my best swing on it.”
After freshman left-hander Ethan Flanagan went four innings and gave up four runs, coach John Savage once again called on Harrison. The right-hander registered his tied for second-longest outing of the year, going three shutout innings while giving up two hits.
After freshman right-hander Luke Jewett faced two batters in the eighth inning, Tredwell took over and finished off the contest to earn the save for the second straight night.
Savage said the bullpen played a major role in securing the series victory for the Bruins.
“I couldn’t have asked for a tougher bullpen that really stepped up in our most critical time,” Savage said. “Charles threw that big seventh inning on Thursday and came back and threw three innings yesterday (Friday). It really won us the series.”
With a chance to sweep Oregon State and lock up the two seed in the Pac-12 tournament, UCLA did not achieve the same outcome it saw in the opening two games of the series. The Bruins fell behind 9-1 in the sixth inning Saturday and could not overcome the Beavers to secure the sweep.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Kelly Austin, junior left-hander Josh Hahn and redshirt freshman right-hander Chris Aldrich threw the first 5.1 innings for the blue and gold and combined to surrender all nine runs.
The Bruins attempted to mount a comeback in the seventh inning, led by RBI singles from Yates and graduate student first baseman Jake Palmer, but could not get back into the game.
With the first-ever Pac-12 tournament kicking off Wednesday, Rajcic said he likes the Bruins’ chances with the way they have been playing as of late.
“Where our team is heading, it’s going to be a fun tournament,” Rajcic said.
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