Baseball dodges NCAA tournament elimination with win over Southeastern Louisiana
Junior catcher Darius Perry gears up for a pitch. Perry led No. 2 seed UCLA baseball with four hits in its elimination game against Southeastern Louisiana. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)
|No. 2 seed UCLA||16|
|No. 4 seed Southeastern Louisiana||2|
June 4, 2022 2:38 p.m.
This post was updated June 4 at 3:21 p.m.
Following an opening-round loss in the Pac-12 tournament last week, the Bruins scored in double digits to avoid elimination in their next game.
They did the same in the NCAA tournament Saturday.
No. 2 seed UCLA baseball (39-23, 19-11 Pac-12) staved off elimination by defeating No. 4 seed Southeastern Louisiana (30-31, 14-10 Southland) by a score of 16-2 in the Auburn regional in Auburn, Alabama. With the win, the Bruins will need to win three more consecutive games to advance to a Super Regional after falling to Florida State on Friday.
Coach John Savage said the team performed well at the plate with their backs against the wall.
“It’s a loser’s elimination game, so you got to come out firing,” Savage said. “We did a good job of swinging the bats. … At the end of the day it was a good bounce back. We were put in that position last weekend, so I think we’re pretty familiar with it.”
Similar to what No. 1 seed Auburn did against Southeastern Louisiana on Friday, UCLA jumped out to an early lead against the Lions. An RBI double by freshman second baseman Ethan Gourson got the Bruins on the board and set the UCLA freshman record for most doubles in a season with 23.
In the bottom of the second, freshman left-hander Ethan Flanagan hit a batter to load the bases and then walked in Southeastern Louisiana’s first run of the game before a double play ended the inning with UCLA up 3-1.
The blue and gold sent nine batters to the plate and scored four in the top of the third, highlighted by junior catcher Darius Perry’s two-run single for his second of four total hits Saturday. The Bruins chased Lion right-hander Andrew Landry in the process, limiting the starter to 2.2 innings.
UCLA scored two more in the fifth to give them an eight-run lead and then extended the lead to double digits in the sixth. Sophomore center fielder Carson Yates hit his second home run of the tournament, sending the ball over the 30-foot wall in left field to bring the score to 11-1.
Yates said Saturday’s offense is a good sign for the rest of the weekend.
“When everybody’s batting like they did today, it just brings momentum to the next game,” Yates said. “Especially since we’re in this situation, we got to keep winning to keep advancing. It’s so nice having everybody just confident at the plate.”
The Bruins loaded the bases after the homer, forcing the Lions to send out their fourth pitcher of the game. A single by junior right fielder Michael Curialle scored one with the Bruins going station to station, but they stranded three after that.
Sophomore designated hitter Daylen Reyes led off the seventh with a hit by pitch but was thrown out at home after two singles. Another single loaded the bases before the Bruins scored two on freshman shortstop Cody Schrier’s second double of the game. An RBI groundout brought UCLA to 15 on the day, its second-highest run total of the postseason.
Gourson led off the eighth with the Bruins’ second homer of the day, making it a 16-1 ball game.
UCLA sent its fifth pitcher of the day to the mound in the ninth in freshman right-hander Nate Leibold, who recorded the last three outs of the contest while allowing one run.
Despite having three potential games to play over the next two days, Savage said he is not concerned about the Bruins’ current pitching situation.
“Our bullpen is used to a grind,” Savage said. “They lived it last week, and certainly they’ll be up to the task this week.”
UCLA will play the loser of Florida State and Auburn on Sunday at 11 a.m.