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UCLA Falls to Omaha in Midweek Action, 9-4

Feb 23, 2022
Malakhi Knight (photo: Ross Turteltaub)

LOS ANGELES – Freshman right-hander Thatcher Hurd struck out 11 batters and UCLA pitchers as a whole racked up 18 Ks in Wednesday night's contest against Omaha, but the visiting Mavericks scored in four of their five final offensive innings en route to a 9-4 win at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The first third of the contest was a pure pitcher's duel, with Hurd and Omaha starter Jackson Gordon trading zeroes over the first three innings.

UCLA (2-3) got on the board first with a single run in the fourth, but Omaha (2-3) would go on to score in four consecutive frames starting in the fifth, including a decisive four-spot in the seventh.

Still, Hurd was brilliant for the Bruins in his first collegiate start. After walking the first batter of the game, Hurd proceeded to strike out the next eight batters in a row.

He totaled 11 strikeouts over his five complete innings of work, the most by a Bruin pitcher making their debut start under John Savage, and the most by a UCLA freshman in any game since Kyle Molnar also had 11 against Washington State on Mar. 20, 2016.

The Mavericks weren't able to put a ball into fair territory against Hurd until the fourth inning, and didn't get their first hit until Eddie Satisky shot a grounder down the first base line with one out in the fifth. Hurd ended his day allowing just two hits and one earned run.

Freshman center fielder Malakhi Knight was responsible for most of UCLA's run production, finishing with a team-high three RBIs. He legged out a potential double play ball to avoid the third out and bring in a run in the fourth, then gave the Bruins the lead again with a two-run triple into the right-center field gap in the sixth. Knight later scored himself on a grounder to first, breaking for home from third and forcing a wide throw from the Omaha first baseman to make it 4-2. 

The Mavericks strung together three hits while taking advantage of a pair of UCLA errors to put together their go-ahead rally in the seventh. Omaha would add three more runs in the top of the eighth to close out the game's scoring.

Besides Knight, graduate left fielder Kenny Oyama (1-2, two walks, two stolen bases) and freshman shortstop Cody Schrier (2-5) had solid days on offense.

UCLA continues its season-opening nine-game homestand this weekend, hosting UC Riverside for a three-game series starting at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night.