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UCLA baseball opens Pac-12 play against Oregon with 3-game series

Sophomore right-hander Luke Jewett rears back to deliver a pitch. The Bruins’ closer has picked up three saves in the 2023 campaign, allowing runs in just one outing. (Felicia Keller/Daily Bruin)

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By Joseph Crosby

March 9, 2023 10:24 p.m.

When the Ducks came to Westwood a year ago, the Bruins swept the series with a trio of one-run wins.

This weekend, they’re planning to do it all over again in a different venue.

“Looking to take it to them like we did last year,” said sophomore right-hander Luke Jewett.

No. 16 UCLA baseball (10-2) is headed to Eugene for a three-game series against Oregon (8-3) to open conference play beginning Friday. As the Bruins look to repeat what they did last season against the Ducks, the showdown will also be an opportunity to continue a trend for the program overall.

UCLA holds an all-time record of 35-16 against Oregon. The first contest between the two schools was in 1967.

Despite a history of success against Oregon, coach John Savage said the series will still be a challenge.

“Oregon’s good, very good. They’ve had some good weekends, coming off a big weekend sweeping San Diego,” Savage said. “Everybody’s off to a pretty good start, so it’s going to be a dogfight in the Pac-12 this year.”

While the trip to Oregon may represent the first official Pac-12 games of the year for the blue and gold, it isn’t the team’s first taste of a conference opponent.

The finale of the Southern California College Baseball Classic last Sunday signaled a Pac-12 preview between UCLA and USC, with some ninth-inning heroics from the Trojans making the game interesting before Jewett closed it out.

Jewett – who has taken over the closer role since sophomore right-hander Alonzo Tredwell moved to the starting rotation this season – was put on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List and has already notched three saves in six outings.

Jewett credits his time spent in the Cape Cod League over the summer for his successful transition into the back-end relief role.

“The Cape was huge for me,” Jewett said. “Being able to face that top-tier competition over the summer really allowed myself to find myself in this role and trust my stuff. Because of how my summer went, I had a lot of confidence coming in this year.”

While Jewett may be leading the Bruins’ bullpen this year, the Ducks have a Stopper of the Year candidate of their own.

Right-hander Josh Mollerus shares a place on the NCBWA Preseason Watch List with Jewett and has yet to allow a run this season. Mollerus’ two saves pace Oregon, while his 10 strikeouts in just six innings of work are the most of any non-starting pitcher on his team.

The Oregon pitching staff as a whole currently sits second in earned-run average in the conference, trailing only UCLA.

Sophomore designated hitter Jack Holman said the Bruins are ready for what will be a challenging series.

“It’s our job to just go out there and play every game like it matters because it does,” Holman said. “Going out to Oregon, it’s going to be a good test for us.”

While Oregon’s pitching tells one story, the team’s bats tell another. The Ducks sit last in runs scored in the conference while placing in the bottom two in all three categories of the triple slash. Through 11 games, they have been held to three or fewer runs six times but have held opponents under the same threshold on eight occasions.

UCLA will have the chance to hold Oregon under three runs once more when the series starts Friday at 3:05 p.m. at PK Park.

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Joseph Crosby
Crosby was the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats.
Crosby was the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats.
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