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UCLA Bests LMU in Midweek Tilt, 9-5

Mar 22, 2022
Josh Hahn (photo: Luca Flores)

LOS ANGELES – Graduate left fielder Kenny Oyama hit his first-career home run to spark a go-ahead rally in the seventh inning as UCLA claimed a 9-5 midweek win over Loyola Marymount on Tuesday night at Page Stadium.

Oyama's solo blast was a cinematic moment, coming on his birthday and in his first game back at Page Stadium after transferring to UCLA as a grad student following a standout four-year career with the Lions. The roundtripper was his first in 179 career games at the collegiate level.

The blast – which came on the first pitch of the inning and was lined over the wall in right field – started a decisive five-run rally for the Bruins (13-7) in the seventh. Five of the next six batters reached base for UCLA after Oyama's homer, with runs coming in on a two-run double into the left-center field gap from Michael Curialle, an RBI base hit the other way for graduate first baseman Jake Palmer, and a line double from Malakhi Knight that reached the wall in left-center.

The Bruins and Lions (6-13-1) had battled to a 4-4 tie to that point in the game. UCLA took an early 2-0 lead in the game but saw LMU post back-to-back two-spots in the third and fourth innings. The Bruins didn't stay behind for long though, with freshman second baseman Ethan Gourson launching a two-run homer in the top of the fifth to knot it up.

Gourson (3-5, three runs, two RBIs) was the Bruins' top offensive performer overall on Tuesday, while Curialle (2-5, two RBIs), Palmer (2-3, RBI), and Knight (2-5, two RBIs) all had multi-hit efforts.

UCLA got a number of solid pitching performances in the win, especially out of the bullpen.

Redshirt freshman right-hander Chris Aldrich had the top fireman performance of the game for UCLA, inheriting a two-RISP, one out situation with the game tied 4-4 in the fifth. Aldrich responded by getting a weak grounder to first and an inning-ending strikeout to get out of the jam with the score intact.

Freshman left-hander Gage Jump made his NCAA debut in the sixth inning, allowing a leadoff walk but getting the next three batters in order to record a zero in his first action as a Bruin. He ended up as the pitcher of the record, picking up his first-career win.

UCLA starter Kelly Austin struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning, allowing three earned runs en route to a no-decision.

UCLA returns to action this weekend, traveling to Tucson, Ariz. for a three-game set against conference rival Arizona starting on Friday night at 6:00 p.m.