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Oregon State knots series in UCLA baseball’s final home games

Freshman outfielder Jarrod Hocking awaits a pitch in a game against USC. Hocking hit his third home run in as many games in Saturday’s loss to No. 15 Oregon State. (Felicia Keller/Daily Bruin)

Baseball


No. 15 Oregon State6
UCLA4

By Benjamin Royer

May 14, 2023 9:51 a.m.

Peaks and valleys of pitching were on display through Kelly Austin’s final regular-season home start Saturday.

But the lows ultimately weighed heaviest when all was said and done.

“The game isn’t won or lost by one guy, but it was mistakes on my end that I felt I needed to clean up,” Austin said.

At one end of the spectrum, the senior right-hander struck out a career-high 13 batters to the cheers and chants of a dozen children sitting in the Jackie Robinson Stadium stands. But on the other end, No. 15 Oregon State (35-15, 17-12 Pac-12) punished the righty with the long ball, hammering three home runs off of Austin en route to a 6-4 victory over UCLA baseball (26-20-1,11-13-1).

Despite being within striking distance – down just two runs – the Bruins had their scoring halted after the fourth inning, and the Beavers knotted the series heading into Sunday.

Coach John Savage said the team’s focus immediately shifted to the final home game of the campaign.

“It’s about tomorrow,” Savage said. “We’ve been in a bunch of dogfights this year. We’ve been in a lot of series when it’s been tied 1-1. It’s (the rubber match is) a really good opportunity for us to come out tomorrow and play against a really good team.”

Freshman right-hander Michael Barnett piggybacked Austin and tossed three no-hit innings to keep UCLA in the contest, but Oregon State reliever Ben Ferrer matched the rookie’s pitching performance.

The Bruins chased the Beavers’ starting pitcher Jacob Kmatz after the fourth and tagged the righty with four earned runs. However, once Ferrer entered the fray, the lineup could only muster up four hits through the next four innings, giving Oregon State the room to secure the save.

“We could not get good swings off him, and it’s a very veteran guy with a really good slider,” Savage said. “We (had) seen him last year, so nothing he did really surprised us. It was just more about him executing pitches.”

Although the Bruins struggled offensively in the back half of the affair, freshman outfielder Jarrod Hocking contributed three hits – one home run, one double and one bunt single – to the team’s 11. The latter of the hits from the Orange County local sparked a rally, nearly ending in runs crossing the plate.

With runners on first and second, junior outfielder JonJon Vaughns struck a single into right field. But when Hocking crossed third and began to charge home, assistant coach Niko Gallego placed the brakes on the speedy freshman.

Hocking attempted to retreat to third base but was thrown out, stunting the growing momentum and keeping the Bruins scoreless in the frame.

“It’s definitely a tough one thinking about it (getting tagged out at third base),” Hocking said. “But it happens. It’s whatever. And (I’m) just looking forward to coming out tomorrow and competing.”

Savage said Gallego probably should have held Hocking at third base sooner, but that type of play happens at all levels.

“If you have one of those in 50 games, you’re doing a pretty good job,” Savage said. “It happens in the major leagues. It’s all you need to know. It’s an unfortunate play.”

UCLA will close its regular-season home slate Sunday at noon when it attempts to take the series against Oregon State.

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Benjamin Royer | Assistant Sports editor
Royer is the 2023-2024 Assistant Sports editor on the baseball, gymnastics and men's water polo beats and a reporter on the football beat. He was previously a staff writer on the baseball, football and gymnastics beats. He is also a fourth-year communication student.
Royer is the 2023-2024 Assistant Sports editor on the baseball, gymnastics and men's water polo beats and a reporter on the football beat. He was previously a staff writer on the baseball, football and gymnastics beats. He is also a fourth-year communication student.
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