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UCLA Battles Long Beach State in Top-25 Matchup

Feb 28, 2022
Kenny Oyama (photo: Scott Chandler)

No. 23 UCLA (5-3) vs. No. 22 Long Beach State (2-4)
Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Location: Los Angeles, Calif. (Jackie Robinson Stadium)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
TV Talent: Jim Watson (pbp), Ben Francisco (analyst)
Stream: Pac-12 Now App /
Audio: UCLA Lean Player
Audio Play-by-Play Talent: Nick Koop
Live Stats

No. 23 UCLA Wraps Homestand Against Long Beach State    
No. 23 UCLA (5-3) concludes its season-opening nine-game homestand on Tuesday night, hosting Long Beach State (2-4) starting at 7:00 p.m. The game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks, with Jim Watson and Ben Francisco on the call. Fans can also follow along with an internet radio broadcast, live stats, and Twitter updates from @UCLABaseball.

Quick Hits    

  • UCLA is 5-3 so far on the year, winning its first two series of the 2022 campaign
  • Bruin starting pitchers have combined for an 0.84 ERA and 11.8 K/9 ratio through eight games
  • The Bruins allowed just one earned run and 13 hits over a weekend sweep of UC Riverside
  • UCLA struck out 15+ batters in four consecutive games from Feb. 20-25
  • Entering the week, UCLA's 94 total pitching strikeouts are sixth-most in the country
  • UCLA is 25-28 this season in stolen base attempts (89% success rate), including a team-high 8 SBs from Kenny Oyama
  • UCLA's current freshman class was the No. 1-ranked recruit class in the country
  • UCLA had six players on D1Baseball's Top 100 Impact Freshmen List, more than any other school in the country
  • UCLA plays its first 9 games of 2022 at home, and doesn't play a true road game until Mar. 22
  • The Bruins went 37-20 in 2021 and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament
  • UCLA had an NCAA-high 10 players selected in the 2021 MLB Draft

Projected Pitching Matchups
Tuesday, Mar. 1 - 7:00 p.m. PT 
UCLA - Thatcher Hurd, RHP, Fr. (0-0, 1.29 ERA)
LBSU - Noah Carbajal, RHP, So. (1-0, 3.60 ERA)

The Week In Review    
UCLA went 3-2 last week, dropping a pair of midweeks before bouncing back to sweep UC Riverside over the weekend:

  • Ethan Flanagan (8 Ks in 3.2 IP), Alonzo Tredwell (7 Ks in 2.2 IP), and Luke Jewett (2 Ks in 1.2 IP) combined to strike out 17 batters in eight innings last Tuesday against Pepperdine, but the Waves rallied for six runs in the ninth inning (including a grand slam from John Peck) to take a 7-5 midweek decision. Daylen Reyes had two hits in his first start of the year, including an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth
  • Thatcher Hurd was masterful (5 IP, 11 K, 1 ER) in his debut NCAA start Wednesday, but Omaha rallied for seven runs over the seventh and eighth innings to win, 9-4. Malakhi Knight (2-4, 2B, 3B, 3 RBIs) had a strong night offensively for UCLA, while Kenny Oyama reached base three times and swiped two bases
  • Jake Brooks struck out a dozen over seven scoreless innings and Michael Curialle drove in all the offense UCLA would need with a two-run double in the third inning as UCLA won its series-opener over UC Riverside, 3-1. Brooks faced the minimum over his final 5 2/3 innings, and allowed just three singles on the evening. Alonzo Tredwell locked down the save for the Bruins, the first of his career and first for any UCLA pitcher in 2022
  • The Bruins dominated on both sides of the ball in a 12-0 Saturday rout, scoring a season-high in runs while notching the team's first shutout of the campaign. UCLA scored in six of its eight offensive innings, led by Ethan Gourson (2-3, 3 RBIs), JonJon Vaughns (2-2, 3 R, 3 BB), and Cody Schrier (2-4, 2 RBIs). Max Rajcic (5 IP, 2 H) led a combined four-hitter for UCLA.
  • UCLA clinched the sweep with a walk-off 2-1 victory Sunday. Tommy Beres brought in the game-winning run, succesfully executing a safety squeeze to bring in Malakhi Knight, who had led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. Kelly Austin (6 IP, 2 H, 0 R) dominated in his second Division I start but received a no decision after UCR tied it in the ninth
  • UCLA's plus-15 run differential vs. UCR was its best for a weekend series since Apr. 16-18, 2021 (+37 vs. Utah)
  • UCLA's two runs allowed against UCR were its fewest in a weekend series since Feb. 21-23, 2020 (1 vs. St. Mary's)

On The Move    
UCLA has been busy on the basepaths so far in 2022, stealing 25 bases over five games at an 89% success rate. The Bruins rank fourth in the country in total stolen bases, and 12th in stolen bases per game (3.1). UCLA has swiped multiple bags in all but one game so far this year, and have had at least three stolen bases in seven of nine games. The Bruins stole 11 bases over three games against CSUN to open the year, the program's most in a single series over the last 10 years. 

Happy to Be Home    
UCLA's 2022 schedule is home-heavy, especially in the early going. The Bruins open the new campaign with a nine-game homestand, and will play 16 games at Jackie Robinson Stadium before the team's first true road game: Mar. 22 at Loyola Marymount (the latest road opener in program history). The Bruins will play three neutral games at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Tex. from Mar. 4-6 as part of the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic. 

In The Polls    
UCLA was featured in four of the five major national polls on Monday, appearing as high as No. 23 (Baseball America) and also checking in at No. 25 (NCBWA) and No. 27 (Collegiate Baseball). The Bruins received the third-most votes among schools outside the top-25 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll. 

Racking Up The Strikeouts    
UCLA pitchers have been piling up the Ks so far in 2022, ranking sixth in the country with 94 strikeouts to this point. UCLA had 15+ strikeouts in four consecutive games from Feb. 20-25, the first time the program has achieved that feat over the last 10 years. That streak includes a season-high 18 strikeouts against Omaha on Feb. 23. UCLA paces the Pac-12 Conference in both total strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings (11.1). 

Get 'Em On    
The Bruins' plate discipline has been on display early on in the season, as UCLA ranks high nationally in walks drawn (50, 12th) and hit by pitches (21, fifth). The Bruins have drawn a minimum of four BBs and one HBP each game, and are averaging 8.8 free baserunners per contest. Ethan Gourson (6 BBs, 4 HBPs) and Jake Palmer (6 BBs, 3 HBPs) have been among the most productive Bruins in that department. 

Good Start    
UCLA's starting pitching has been absolutely dominant in the early going in 2022, as the quintet of Jake Brooks, Max Rajcic, Kelly Austin, Ethan Flanagan, and Thatcher Hurd have combined for the following stats:

  • 0.84 ERA and 56-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 42 2/3 innings
  • 4 total runs allowed
  • 0.72 WHIP, 11.8 K/9
  • 5 games with 0 R allowed, 7 games with 1 ER or fewer allowed, 8 games with 2 ER or fewer allowed
  • 4 games with 2 H allowed (the most hits allowed by a UCLA starter in one game so far has been 4)

The Series Against Long Beach State    
UCLA and Long Beach State have played a home-and-home midweek series against LBSU in most recent seasons. Here is UCLA's record against LBSU in recent years: 2019 (2-0), 2018 (0-2), 2017 (2-0), 2016 (1-1), 2015 (1-1). The two squads last met in a weekend series in 2014, with the Dirtbags taking two-of-three in the split-venue set (Friday/Sunday games at UCLA, Saturday game at LBSU). UCLA is 18-15 against Long Beach State under head coach John Savage. 

Last Time Out Against LBSU    
The Bruins swept both ends of a home-and-home midweek series in 2019, the last season that UCLA and LBSU matched up. Both games were low scoring, with UCLA taking a 2-0 decision at LBSU on Mar. 12, 2019 before eking out a 2-1 win in 12 innings at Jackie Robinson Stadium on May 7. Garrett Mitchell (2020 MLB First Round Draft pick - MIL) hit a solo home run to lead off the 3/12/19 game against LBSU, and that stood up as the decisive run. Current Bruin Jack Filby also threw a scoreless inning of relief in that game. Michael Toglia scored on a passed ball to plate the walk-off run in the game at JRS on 5/7/19. Current Bruin Jake Moberg pinch-hit in that game, striking out in the bottom of the 10th inning. 

Disconnected From the Dirtbags    
When UCLA and Long Beach State match up on Tuesday, it will be the first time the two programs have played each other since May 27, 2019 (a span of 1,010 days or two years, nine months, and five days).That is by far the longest gap in program history. Prior to the current gap, the Bruins and Dirtbags had matched up in every season dating back to 1966 except one (1975). UCLA-LBSU were scheduled to meet in 2020 before the season was cut short due to COVID, and LBSU played a nearly-exclusive conference schedule in 2021 due to Big West protocols. 

In The Zone    
As is the case most years, the Bruins have been adept so far in 2022 at limiting free passes. As of Monday, UCLA ranks 10th in the country in WHIP (0.91) and 15th in BB/9 (2.5). In the UC Riverside series, the Bruins yielded just three bases on balls, compared to 30 strikeouts. 

UCLA Brings in Nation's No. 1 Recruiting Class    
UCLA's 2022 roster has been bolstered by a strong recruiting class, which received a No. 1 national recruit class ranking from three separate outlets (D1Baseball, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball). 
The group features three players from the top-100, and five from the top-125, of Baseball America's top 500 prospect list for the 2021 Draft.
 The newest group of Bruins is headlined by four players ranked inside the top-100 nationally by Perfect Game in outfielder Malakhi Knight (No. 26), right-handed pitcher Thatcher Hurd (36), infielder Cody Schrier (43), and left-handed pitcher Gage Jump (45).
The Bruins also brought in talented transfers from the four-year and junior college ranks including outfielder Kenny Oyama (batted .320 last season at Loyola Marymount), outfielder Jake Palmer (career .446 OBP at UC Irvine), and right-handed pitcher Kelly Austin (6-0, 1.26 ERA last season at Orange Coast College).
The class also features standout prep players in RHP Alonzo Tredwell (No. 164 national ranking from Perfect Game), RHP Luke Jewett (195), OF Nick McLain (211, younger brother of Bruin alum Matt McLain), C Jack Holman (292), and INF Bryce Grudzielanek (314). The class is rounded out by RHP Josh Alger (No. 342 in the BA Top-500 Draft rankings) RHP Nate Leibold (2.19 ERA in the WCL), LHP Ethan Flanagan (Orange County All-Star), and INF Ethan Gourson (All-CIF shortstop).
Savage Approaching Milestones in 2022    
UCLA head coach John Savage is on track to hit a pair of milestones during the 2022 season. Entering the week, he needs six wins to reach 600 at UCLA, and he needs 18 victories to reach 700 overall for his career. 

UCLA Lands NCAA-High Six Players on D1Baseball Impact Freshmen List    
D1Baseball released its annual list of the projected Top 100 Impact Freshen in college baseball on Feb. 17, and the Bruins led the country with six inclusions on the list. Only Florida and Texas Tech (four apiece) came close to matching the Bruins. The UCLA selections included LHP Gage Jump (No. 9), INF Cody Schrier (26), RHP Thatcher Hurd (40), OF Malakhi Knight (65), INF Ethan Gourson (79) and OF Nick McLain (89). 

Plenty of Kenny    
Graduate outfielder and leadoff hitter Kenny Oyama has been quite the spark plug for UCLA's offense, hitting safely in the team's first seven games of the year and going 8-for-8 so far in stolen base attempts. He ranks third in the country in stolen bases, and is tied with Dalton Mashore of St. Mary's (also 8-for-8) for the most stolen bases of any player in the country without a caught stealing. On Feb. 20, he became the first Bruin since 2016 to record seven at-bats in a game, and he led all Bruins in hits (6) and stolen bases (4) during the season-opening CSUN series.

Walk It Off    
Ethan Gourson's game-winning, 13th inning home run against CSUN was UCLA's first walk-off home run since Michael Toglia hit a three-run blast against East Carolina on Apr. 13, 2019 (UCLA won, 8-5). 

Doing A Job    
UCLA catcher Tommy Beres has laid down five sacrifice bunts so far this season, second-most in the country. His safety squeeze against UC Riverside on Feb. 25 scored Malakhi Knight in a walk-off win for the Bruins.