No. 22 UCLA Notches 9-2 Opening Day Win Over CSUN
LOS ANGELES – The No. 22-ranked UCLA baseball team showed no signs of rust in Friday's Opening Day contest against CSUN, rapping out 16 hits en route to a handy 9-2 win at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Bruins' (1-0) 16 hits were tied for the most in any Opening Day contest under John Savage, matching the program's 2010 opener against Southern. All nine starters reached base on Friday for UCLA, seven recorded at least one hit, and seven different Bruins logged at least one RBI.
On the mound, sophomore righty Jake Brooks drew the Opening Day start and responded with five innings of shutout ball. The bullpen finished off the contest allowing just one earned run over four innings.
"I thought it was a pretty well-played game," said UCLA head coach John Savage. "We got good starting pitching, bullpen was throwing strikes, and then we hit a lot of balls hard. We had 16 hits, and I thought we played good defense for the most part. For the first one, I thought it was pretty good."
Offensive leaders for the Bruins included junior right fielder Michael Curialle (4-5, RBI), senior first baseman Jake Moberg (3-4, RBI), and freshman center fielder Malakhi Knight (3-4, HR, team-high 3 runs).
UCLA opened the game's scoring in the bottom of a contest with a two-spot, and ultimately built up a 7-0 lead before CSUN (0-1) was able to break up the shutout with two runs in the sixth.
Sophomore third baseman Kyle Karros was responsible for the game's opening run, driving a liner into the right-center field gap for an RBI triple. He came across moments later when freshman second baseman Ethan Gourson (2-4) top-spun a liner into right field for an RBI base hit.
The Bruins put together a decisive four-run rally in the fourth inning. The first two batters of that frame reached, and UCLA was able to cash in both on a Kenny Oyama (2-6, two RBIs) single and Cody Schrier sac fly.
Later on in the inning, Curialle won a nine-pitch battle with CSUN starter Blaine Traxel by shooting a base hit through the right side that scored Oyama and chased Traxel from the game. Moberg followed with an RBI line-single into center field to cap the four-spot.
With the Matadors gaining a bit of momentum following their two-run sixth, Knight got the Bruins back in business by putting a charge into the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh, lining it over the left-center field wall for his first collegiate home run (and the first by any Bruin in 2022).
B7 | Bye-bye, ball! @MalakhiKnight gets a hold of this one and puts it over the fence for his first-career home run 💥💥
— UCLA Baseball (@UCLABaseball) February 19, 2022
Brooks was fantastic in his five-inning outing, allowing just a pair of singles and no runs. He went 1-2-3 in three of his five frames, including a bounce-back and shutdown fifth after he had walked a pair of batters in the inning prior. He struck out a pair in his final inning, ending his evening with a career-high five Ks.
Following Brooks, the Bruins got a trio of solid performances out of the bullpen, all from right-handers making their NCAA debuts.
Freshman Alonzo Tredwell struck out the side in the sixth, working around an error and limiting CSUN to a single earned run.
Fellow freshman Luke Jewett hardly spent any time on the mound over his two innings of work, needing just 15 pitches to go six-up, six-down. Redshirt freshman Chris Aldrich closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth.
With the result, the Bruins are now 4-0 all-time in games started by Brooks.
UCLA and CSUN play game two of their three-game series on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. The contest will be streamed live on Pac-12 Plus.
Follow @UCLABaseball on Twitter for all team updates.