No. 15 UCLA Hosts USC to Open Pac-12 Play
No. 15 UCLA (9-4, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. USC (9-2, 0-0 Pac-12)
Friday, Mar. 11, 2022 - 5:00 p.m. PT
Saturday, Mar. 12, 2022 - 5:00 p.m. PT
Sunday, Mar. 13, 2022 - 3:00 p.m. PT
Location: Los Angeles, Calif. (Jackie Robinson Stadium)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
TV Talent: J.B. Long (pbp), Ben Francisco (analyst; Sunday-only)
Stream: Pac-12 Now App / Pac-12.com
Audio: UCLA Lean Player
Audio Play-by-Play Talent: Nick Koop
No. 15 UCLA Hosts Crosstown Rival USC on Pac-12 Networks
No. 15-ranked UCLA (9-4) continues a seven-game homestand this weekend, bringing in crosstown rival USC (9-2) in the first Pac-12 series of the year for both teams. All three games of the series will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks, with game times of 5:00 p.m. PT on Friday and Saturday and a 3:00 p.m. PT finale on Sunday. J.B. Long will have the play-by-play call all weekend, and will be joined in the booth on Sunday by UCLA alumnus Ben Francisco. Fans can also follow along with an internet radio broadcast (play-by-play: Nick Koop) and live stats on UCLABruins.com, as well as live Twitter updates from @UCLABaseball.
- UCLA is 9-4 so far on the year, and has won seven of its last eight games
- Bruin starting pitchers have combined for an 1.44 ERA and 12.4 K/9 ratio so far
- UCLA has allowed 12 runs total over the last eight games (1.5 runs against per game)
- Last week, UCLA was crowned champion of the Shriner's Children's College Classic (2-1 record, plus-15 run differential)
- The Bruins have struck out 15+ batters in five games so far, including four consecutive from Feb. 20-25
- UCLA leads the country in WHIP (0.86) and is top-10 nationally in K-BB ratio (5.5, 2nd), H/9 (5.6, 4th), and strikeouts (153, 9th)
- Thatcher Hurd ranks third nationally with a 17.5 strikeouts per nine innings ratio
- UCLA is 32-36 this season in stolen base tries (89% success rate), including 13 SBs from Kenny Oyama (2nd in NCAA)
- 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
- 2021: 37-20 record, No. 2 seed in NCAA Regionals, NCAA-high 10 players selected in MLB Draft
Projected Pitching Matchups
Friday, Mar. 11 - 5:00 p.m. PT
UCLA - Jake Brooks, RHP, So. (2-1, 0.90 ERA)
USC - Jaden Agassi. RHP, So. (1-0, 4.38 ERA)
Saturday, Mar. 12 - 5:00 p.m. PT
UCLA - Max Rajcic, RHP, So. (1-1 3.38 ERA)
USC - Tyler Stromsborg, RHP, So. (1-0, 1.80 ERA)
Sunday, Mar. 13 - 3:00 p.m. PT
UCLA - Kelly Austin, RHP, RSo. (1-0, 0.52 ERA)
USC - Charlie Hurley, RHP, So. (2-0, 0.69 ERA)
The Week In Review
UCLA went 3-1 last week, winning two-of-three at the Shriner's Children's College Classic in Houston (Minute Maid Park) before defeating Cal State Fullerton in a Tuesday night contest:
- The Bruins were edged in a pitcher's duel, 2-1, by Baylor on Friday in the first game of the Shriner's Children's College Classic. Jake Brooks allowed just three hits and struck out seven in a complete game effort for the Bruins. Trailing 2-0 in the ninth, Carson Yates hit a pinch-hit solo homer to halve the deficit, and UCLA would go on to load the bases before a sharply-hit Cody Schrier grounder was gobbled up for the game's final out
- Yates had a team-high six RBIs, including a grand slam that drove in the game-winning run, to lead UCLA to a blowout 15-3 win over Oklahoma on Saturday. The Bruins posted six spots in the first and third innings against the Sooners to open a big lead, and three-spot in the sixth highlighted by a Schrier home run gave UCLA a season-high in runs scored. The game was called in the middle of the seventh with the run rule in effect for the tournament. Ethan Flanagan and Thatcher Hurd tossed 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Bruins, with the former picking up his first career win
- The Bruins picked up a signature win on Sunday, defeating top-ranked Texas by a score of 5-1. Kelly Austin (5.1 IP, 1 ER, 8 K), Luke Jewett (0.2 IP, K), and Alonzo Tredwell (3.0 IP, 5 K) teamed up to limit the Longhorns to just five hits. UCLA never trailed in the game, going ahead in the third on a Darius Perry RBI single and taking the lead for good with two runs in the fifth. Yates (2-4, triple), Ethan Gourson (two doubles, RBI), and Michael Curialle (2-4) all had multiple hits for UCLA
- UCLA's win over Texas was its first against a No. 1-ranked team since May 26, 2018 vs. Oregon State
- UCLA was crowned champion of the Shriner's Children's College Classic by virtue of a run differential tiebreaker (four of six teams at the tourney went 2-1, Tennessee's plus-eight differential was next-best after UCLA's plus-15)
- The Bruins defeated Cal State Fullerton 5-4 on Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA led 3-0 by the end of the second inning, but had to rally late after the Titans tied it up at 4-4 with three unearned runs in the seventh inning. Kenny Oyama worked a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth, stole second, and later scored on a Michael Curialle double to bring in the game-winning run. Thatcher Hurd allowed one earned run and struck out seven over 4 1/3 innings, while the UCLA bullpen went the rest of the way without allowing an earned run
On The Move
UCLA has been busy on the basepaths so far in 2022, stealing 32 bases at an 89% success rate to this point. The Bruins rank eighth in the country in total stolen bases, and 15th in stolen bases per game (2.5). UCLA has swiped multiple bags in nine of 13 games so far this year, including seven contests with at least three stolen bases. 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.
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 weekend, he needs two wins to reach 600 at UCLA, and he needs 14 victories to reach 700 overall for his career.
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:
- 1.44 ERA and 94-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 68 2/3 innings
- 11 total runs allowed (0.85 per game)
- 0.74 WHIP, 12.4 K/9
- 6/13 games with 0 R allowed, 10/13 games with 1 ER or fewer allowed, 12/13 games with 2 ER or fewer allowed
- 5 games with 2 H allowed (the most hits allowed by a UCLA starter in one game so far has been 4)
Racking Up The Strikeouts
UCLA pitchers have been piling up the Ks so far in 2022, ranking ninth in the country with 153 strikeouts to this point (just eight behind NCAA leaders Texas Tech). 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. The Bruins followed that up with a season-high 19 strikeouts on Mar. 1 against Long Beach State, matching the program's highest single-game K output of the last 10 years. The 19 strikeouts against the Dirtbags – all by Thatcher Hurd and Ethan Flanagan – is believed to be a program-record for single-game strikeouts by freshmen. UCLA paces the Pac-12 Conference in both total strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings (11.7).
Yates Named Pac-12 Player of the Week
UCLA sophomore outfielder Carson Yates was named the Pac-12 Baseball Player of the Week on Monday after a standout performance in Houston. Yates collected a hit in all three games at Minute Maid, going 5-9 overall on the weekend with two home runs and seven RBIs. He hit a pinch-hit home run on Friday vs. Baylor (his first-career HR), had a career-high six RBIs against Oklahoma on Saturday, then delivered two more hits Sunday as UCLA took down top-ranked Texas. It was Yates's first career weekly award, and he becomes the first Bruin to win the award this season.
Hurd Picks up National Weekly Honors from Perfect Game, NCBWA
UCLA freshman right-hander Thatcher Hurd picked up a pair of national honors on Tuesday (prior to his start vs. CSF), as he was named the Perfect Game/Rawlings National Pitcher of the Week and NCBWA National Co-Pitcher of the Week. Last week, Hurd allowed just two hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out 15. That included a dozen-K performance against LBSU on Mar. 1, the most strikeouts in a game by a UCLA freshman since Gerrit Cole on Apr. 17, 2009 (13). He followed that up with a five-up, five-down relief appearance against Oklahoma on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.
Happy to Be Home
UCLA's 2022 schedule is home-heavy, especially in the early going. The Bruins opened 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).
In The Polls
UCLA was featured in four of the five major national polls on Monday, appearing as high as No. 15 (Baseball America) and also checking in at No. 22 (NCBWA), No. 24 (Collegiate Baseball), and No. 25 (USA TODAY Coaches Poll). The Bruins were cited as one of three teams just outside the top-25 in D1Baseball's poll.
Hurd Missing Bats
Despite being a true freshman, right-hander Thatcher Hurd has been piling up strikeouts at one of the highest clips in the country, as he ranks top-three nationally in both strikeouts (35, 2nd) and K/9 (17.5, third). He totaled 23 strikeouts over his first two collegiate starts, including a 12-strikeout performance against LBSU on Mar. 1 that represented the most by a UCLA freshman since Gerrit Cole had 13 against Washington on Apr. 17, 2009. Nearly two-thirds of his recorded outs have come via the K (35-54, 65%). He struck out two batters in the first inning of his start against Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday, and that actually lowered his K/9 ratio for the season. He ended the night with 7 Ks in 4 1/3 innings.
Rub Some Dirt On It
UCLA enters the weekend ranked eighth in the country in offensive HBPs (30). The Bruins have been hit by a pitch at least once in every game this season, including a season-high five by Pepperdine on Feb. 22. Ethan Gourson (6 HBPs) leads the Pac-12 in that statistic.
The Series Against USC
Though USC holds the the advantage in the all-time series, UCLA has turned the tide in recent years. In 17 previous years under head coach John Savage, UCLA has lost the season series to USC just twice (last: 2014). The Bruins captured weekend sweeps of the Trojans six times in that span, most recently in 2018. UCLA has won each of the last four weekend sets between the two rivals, accruing a 10-2 record in those games.
Last Year Against the Trojans
UCLA went 3-1 against the Trojans in 2021, taking a 10-1 win in the final game of the College Baseball Classic at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Mar. 7 and then rallying from a Friday night loss to take two of three at Dedeaux Field from Mar. 26-28. As a team, the Bruins batted .302 and pitched to a 2.27 ERA against the Trojans last year. Key performers in those games still on the UCLA roster include junior LHP Jake Saum (1.42 ERA, 8 K in 6.1 IP), sophomore RHP Max Rajcic (first-career save), and sophomore OF JonJon Vaughns (first-career home run).
In The Zone
As is the case most years, the Bruins have been adept so far in 2022 at limiting free passes. Entering the weekend, UCLA leads the country in WHIP (0.86), is second in K-BB ratio (5.5), and fourth in BB/9 (2.1). Over the last eight games, UCLA has yielded just 10 bases on balls (compared to 89 strikeouts).
Despite a heavy amount of turnover on the pitching staff, UCLA has continued to excel on the mound in 2022 thanks in large part to the performance of its newcomers. The five new Bruins pitchers to have appeared so far (Luke Jewett, Thatcher Hurd, Ethan Flanagan, Kelly Austin, Alonzo Tredwell) have combined for some gaudy numbers: 5-0, 0.82 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, and a 96-11 K-BB ratio over 65 2/3 innings.
Plenty of Kenny
Graduate outfielder and leadoff hitter Kenny Oyama has been quite the spark plug for UCLA's offense, reaching base safely in 11 of the team's first 13 games while going a perfect 13-for-13 in stolen base attempts. He is tied for the second-most stolen bases in the country, and he's the only player in the country 13+ stolen bases without a caught stealing. He's had several notable moments so far this season. On Feb. 20 he became the first Bruin since 2016 to record seven at-bats in a game, and went on to lead all Bruins in hits (6) and stolen bases (4) during the season-opening CSUN series. On Mar. 6 against No. 1 Texas, he stole second and third base on back-to-back pitches in the fifth inning before scoring the go-ahead and game-winning run.