UCLA Opens Oregon Series With 3-2 Win
LOS ANGELES – Sophomore righty Jake Brooks pitched into the ninth inning for the first time in his career and sophomore right fielder JonJon Vaughns keyed a decisive three-run rally as UCLA recorded a 3-2 win over No. 20 Oregon in Friday night's series opener at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Both teams scored in just one inning on Friday, as the Ducks (18-8, 7-3 Pac-12) opened the scoring on a two-run Sam Novitske homer in the fifth before the Bruins (17-8, 4-3) answered with a three-run rally in the sixth.
UCLA had to stand tall in the top of the ninth after Oregon's Jacob Walsh led off with a double to get the game-tying run into scoring position with nobody out.
From there freshman left-hander Gage Jump entered the game and got three outs in straightforward fashion, inducing a foul pop to first base and a routine grounder to short before striking out Josiah Cromwick to end the game.
For his efforts, Jump was rewarded with his first career save.
Despite the first two batters of the frame going down, UCLA took the lead for good with a three-spot in the sixth as five consecutive Bruins reached base with two outs.
Sophomore third baseman Kyle Karros started off the two-out rally with a solid single into left, then Vaughns tied it up with one swing of the bat as he sent a two-strike curveball way over the fence in right field for a two-run homer.
B6 | All tied up after this 💣 from JonJon Vaughns!
— UCLA Baseball (@UCLABaseball) April 2, 2022
After the Vaughns blast, graduate first baseman Jake Palmer chased Oregon starter RJ Gordon with a line-double into the right-center field gap. That move couldn't stem the rally though, as graduate left fielder Kenny Oyama pulled a grounder through the right side for a single that brought in Palmer from second base. That run stood up as the game-winner.
Vaughn's game-tying homer wasn't his only highlight-reel play of the day, as he made a leaping catch at the track in right to take away a run from the Ducks and end the top of the second.
Brooks – who picked up the win to improve to 5-2 on the year – was excellent again on Friday, limiting the productive Oregon offense to just six hits and two runs over eight-plus innings.
He was extremely economical, entering the ninth inning with just 85 pitches under his belt. After the first inning, he threw 11 pitches or fewer in each succeeding frame. That included a seven-pitch sixth.
Brooks rebounded strongly after allowing the two-run homer to Novitske in the fifth, allowing just an infield single from that point until the ninth inning. He also helped himself stay out of trouble, facing the minimum in four of his innings and rolling up a double play ball in the first.
"Jake has given us those kinds of start all year long," said UCLA head coach John Savage. "He's been very consistent, and he pitched well tonight against one of the more elite offenses in the country."
Besides Vaughns, Palmer (3-4, two doubles) and Karros (2-4) had strong days with the bat. Ethan Gourson (1-3, double, walk) reached base twice.
UCLA and Oregon resume the series on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. PT.