Turning road trip around, UCLA baseball wins 2 games against Oregon
Senior right-hander Kelly Austin steps into his delivery. Austin fanned eight batters in Sunday’s start. (Joseph Crosby/Daily Bruin senior staff)
|No. 16 UCLA||2|
|No. 16 UCLA||8|
|No. 16 UCLA||16|
By Benjamin Royer
March 13, 2023 5:50 p.m.
The Bruins battled back from a first-game low to emerge victorious twice and conclude their road trip on a high note.
After dropping game one of three against Oregon (9-5, 1-2 Pac-12) by a score of 6-2, No. 16 UCLA baseball (12-3, 2-1 Pac-12) flexed its bats to score 24 runs across Saturday and Sunday to take the series in Eugene and secure the Bruins’ first two conference victories of 2023.
“There’s a lot of teams that dominate at home,” said senior right-hander Kelly Austin. “Any good team is going to dominate at home. But the teams that really go far, dominate on the road. So, for us taking this first road series, especially our first Pac-12 series, and go out and beat up on Oregon – that was good.”
Sophomore second baseman Duce Gourson contributed four RBIs – and eight across the weekend – to the blue and gold’s 8-7 triumph over the Ducks on Saturday.
The left-handed slugger hit 4-4 with two home runs, two singles, two runs and was hit by a pitch.
“When he (Gourson) can put some quality at-bats together – he showed me some power to the opposite field. He’s a guy that really is off to a good start,” said coach John Savage.
On Sunday, UCLA jumped ahead 9-0 in the second inning and cruised to victory from there, eventually winning by a score of 16-0.
The blue and gold continued to add to its hefty lead. With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Oregon coach Mark Wasikowski moved to the bullpen to bring in a left-handed pitcher to face Gourson.
But even the lefty-lefty matchup did not deter the San Diego native. Gourson ripped a grand slam – tying junior outfielder JonJon Vaughns for the team lead with six home runs – over the left-center wall to set the Bruins ahead by 14 runs.
“Credit to Duce,” Savage said. “He let the ball travel and he squared it up and hit the ball out of the ballpark. It was a very good at-bat against a left-handed pitcher.”
The long ball was the Bruins’ primary scoring method on Saturday, with junior third baseman Kyle Karros and Vaughns hitting home runs of their own. The latter of the duo also managed to go deep on Friday.
Sophomore right-hander Alonzo Tredwell also picked up his third win. The closer-turned-starter tossed 5.2 innings and allowed two earned runs, five hits and four walks while striking out three Ducks.
Although the offense scored 16 runs, UCLA’s pitching staff kept the Bruins in the game either way, holding Oregon scoreless in the series finale.
Austin pitched a career-high 6.2 innings on Sunday and matched a career-high eight strikeouts. The former Orange Coast College transfer allowed three hits, two walks and zero runs, lowering his season ERA to 0.82.
“I had flashes where my splitter was working really well,” Austin said. “I had flashes where my slider was working well. My curveball was working well but never seemed to really become on at the same time. … So, being able to adjust to the game plan through that was big.”
Across the Pac-12, the two other ranked programs fell victim to upsets. No. 2 Stanford lost two of three against USC and No. 25 Oregon State dropped its series against Washington State.
Savage said he is looking forward to the cutthroat nature of the conference in 2023.
“It’s (the Pac-12) as balanced as I’ve seen in a long, long time,” Savage said. “I knew going in that was going to be balanced, but I think the rest of the college baseball world now knows that each and every weekend it’s going to be very highly competitive and there are no off weekends, that’s for sure.”
UCLA returns to Jackie Robinson Stadium on Tuesday to host San Diego at 6 p.m.
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