UCLA Claims 3-1 Win in UCR Series Opener
LOS ANGELES – Sophomore right-hander Jake Brooks struck out a career-high dozen batters over seven shutout innings and junior right fielder Michael Curialle provided a key two-run double as No. 21 UCLA recorded a 3-1 victory in Friday night's series-opener against UC Riverside at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
With the decision, UCLA evened its record to 3-3 on the season. UCR dropped to 0-5.
Brooks – who provided five scoreless frames last Friday on Opening Day – has now gone 12 innings without allowing a run to open the season, and has struck out 17 batters in that time frame.
His gem continues a strong run of starting pitching for the Bruins to open 2022 – UCLA starters have allowed one earned run or fewer in five of six games so far, and UCLA's starting pitcher has registered at least eight strikeouts in four consecutive games dating back to Sunday.
Brooks' dominance started from practically the word go on Friday. He struck out the side in the top of the first, shook off a pair of weak singles to strike out the side again in the second, then picked up two more Ks as part of a 1-2-3 third.
Those two base hits – an infield single to the 5-6 hole and a bloop to shallow short – in the second ended up being his "biggest" blemishes of the day. After that bloop single, he ended up facing the minimum for the remainder of his 5 2/3 innings of work. His only other baserunner – a leadoff single in the fifth – was immediately wiped out by a line-double play to first baseman Jake Palmer. He then finished off his outing with back-to-back 1-2-3 frames in the sixth and seventh.
A two-run rally in the third made a winner out of Brooks, who improved to 2-0 on the young season.
Curialle provided the key spark of that rally, teeing off on the first pitch he saw from UC Riverside starter Zach Jacobs and driving it into the left-center field gap to plate Kenny Oyama and Ethan Gourson, who had reached on a single up the middle and walk, respectively.
That two-run two-bagger proved to be all UCLA would need, but the Bruins rallied for a third run in the seventh. Patience was the name of the game in that inning, as a two-out Palmer HBP was followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. The final base on balls was the hardest-earned of the bunch, as redshirt sophomore catcher Tommy Beres had to foul off five pitches with two strikes before receiving ball four on the 11th pitch of his plate appearance.
UCLA's bullpen finished the job that Brooks started with two innings of solid relief.
Freshman right-hander Luke Jewett pitched the eighth and surrendered just an unearned run. Fellow freshman righty Alonzo Tredwell gave up a cue shot single down the third base line to lead off the ninth, but limited the damage there to earn his first-career save.
For the game, UCLA pitchers combined to strike out 15 and walk none.
Gourson reached base a team-high three times for UCLA, walking twice to go along with a double. Freshman shortstop Cody Schrier also recorded a two-bagger for the Bruins, lining one into the left-center gap to open the second inning. Oyama has now hit safely in his first six games as a Bruin.
The Highlanders were led by first baseman Joey Nicolai, who singled twice to account for two-fifths of his team's hits. Jacobs was tagged with the loss for UCR, allowing two earned and walking three over 3 2/3 innings. The Highlanders issued nine walks over the course of the night and hit four batters.
UCLA and UCR continue the series on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. The game will be streamed live on UCLABruins.com.