UCLA baseball nets big win in series opener against Arizona
Junior outfielder Carson Yates watches the ball during an at-bat. Yates’ two-run single was the bookend on a four-run first inning for the Bruins. (Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)
|No. 13 UCLA||5|
By Ava Abrishamchian
March 18, 2023 12:00 p.m.
As the sun was setting Friday night, the Bruins bore witness to orange skies and a series-opening win against the Wildcats.
No. 13 UCLA baseball (13-3, 3-1 Pac-12) came out with a 5-1 home win against Arizona (12-4, 3-1) after a weekend on the road. The win marked the Bruins’ third conference win in as many games and extended its undefeated at-home winning streak to 10.
The match up started with the second-most runs in the first inning the Bruins have seen all season. Despite a homer by the first batter of the game giving the Wildcats an early lead, the Bruins returned the favor with a four-run bottom of the first. UCLA’s offense was able to put runners in scoring position as Arizona allowed a pair of walks and stolen bases.
Junior third baseman Kyle Karros got the scoring started with a double down the right-field line before a sacrifice fly brought in redshirt sophomore infielder AJ Salgado, who reached on a walk. Another walk by senior catcher Darius Perry set the table for junior outfielder Carson Yates to drive him and Karros in with a single up the middle to cap off the frame.
Despite individual performances from the lineup, Yates said the real damage was done as a collective unit.
“It’s just kind of right off the bat from start to the end … putting in quality at-bats and passing it to the next guy to the next guy,” Yates said. “And all of a sudden, you just have a bunch of guys on base, and the runs keep coming in. We just kept passing to each other and just ended up putting four runs, so it worked out pretty nice.”
However, the Bruins took a hit to the starting nine during the bottom of the fifth when senior outfielder/left-hander pitcher Josh Hahn pinch hit for Salgado, who could be seen with ice wrapped around his right arm in the dugout.
Even with the injury, the team’s fielding kept the Wildcats at bay for the majority of the contest, with only one fielding error and seven hits allowed for the entirety of the contest.
Junior right-hander Jake Brooks took the mound as the Friday-night starter once more, providing his second-deepest outing of the season with just one run over 5.2 frames.
“(Brooks) is a veteran guy. He’s a winning guy. He’s got a winning pedigree,” coach John Savage said. “He got into the 6th inning. In major leagues, guys get into six innings, that’s news.”
Brooks was relieved in the sixth by redshirt sophomore right-hander Chris Aldrich before freshman right-hander Cody Delvecchio led the team to the ninth inning, where sophomore right-hander Luke Jewett took the reins.
Brooks said all four pitchers on the evening did a good job preventing the Wildcats from doing damage.
“Arizona is a good team … it’s really competitive,” said Brooks. “It was really big for us to get outs, and for me, just to go pitch to pitch against each guy and get each batter out because they got some good guys in their squad.”
Despite cheers and claps of encouragement from the crowd, Jewett struggled to close the game for the blue and gold, loading the bases in the top of the ninth-inning to bring the tying run to the plate. However, for Brooks, it’s just about getting the outs and bringing home the win.
“When it’s a close ballgame like that, with a lot of emotions … whatever happened last play doesn’t matter,” Brooks said. “Just get to the next guy. And I mean, he did a good job of getting that last out, so it was good.”
Even with the first game of the series going to the Bruins, Savage noted that the series isn’t over yet.
“Whenever you win on a Friday night in the Pac-12, you certainly take it,” Savage said. “There’s a lot of baseball still to be played this weekend.”
UCLA will continue its series against Arizona on Saturday at 2 p.m.