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Bruins Clinch Oregon Series With 4-3 Saturday Win

Apr 2, 2022
Mac Rajcic (L) tossed a career-high six innings on Saturday (photo: Ross Turteltaub)

LOS ANGELES – The UCLA baseball team clinched a series win over No. 20 Oregon after notching a 4-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The Bruins (18-8, 5-3 Pac-12) scored four unanswered runs in the middle innings to move ahead 4-2, and withstood a ninth-inning charge by the Ducks (18-9, 7-4) to seal the win. It was the second straight comeback, one-run victory for UCLA, which opened the three-game set with a 3-2 triumph on Friday night.

Sophomore righty Max Rajcic led the Bruins on a mound, allowing just two earned runs over a career-high six innings. UCLA was balanced offensively on Saturday, with eight of nine starters collecting a hit and all nine reaching base at least once.

The Bruins put runs on the board in two separate innings, halving Oregon's lead with a single run in the third before going ahead for good with a three-spot in the fifth.

Redshirt sophomore catcher Tommy Beres sparked both of the Bruins' run-producing rallies as part of a 2-3 day, his first-career multi-hit effort.

In the third, Beres singled sharply to center field and moved to second on a Cody Schrier walk before coming around on an RBI base hit through the right side from freshman second baseman Ethan Gourson.

His next time up, Beres barreled a 1-1 offering off the left-center field wall for a double to lead off the fifth. That started a streak off three consecutive hits for the Bruins, as Schrier fisted a base hit into shallow center and freshman center fielder Malakhi Knight bounced a grounder over the third baseman's head for a game-tying RBI double.

The Bruins went ahead by a run after the next batter – Gourson – bounced out to first for an RBI groundout. Sophomore third baseman Kyle Karros capped the three-spot with a sacrifice fly to deep left field.

Not unlike Friday night, UCLA had to weather a ninth-inning charge from the Ducks to nail down the win, as Oregon got three consecutive singles with two outs to make it a one-run game and put the game-tying and go-ahead runners on base.

However, redshirt sophomore right-hander Kelly Austin stopped the damage there, winning a seven-pitch battle with Oregon's Josiah Cromwick, getting him to chase a breaking ball off the plate and in the dirt for a game-ending strikeout.  

With six strong innings, Rajcic received the win to even his season record at 3-3. He set a new career standard for innings pitched, and went without walking a batter for the first time this year. He added six strikeouts.

Oregon got to him for two runs on an Anthony Hall home run in the second inning, but Rajcic was in cruise control otherwise, giving up just two other hits the rest of the afternoon. Both of those knocks came with two outs, and Rajcic bounced back to retire the next batter both times.

He retired nine consecutive batters at one point, and ended his outing by getting Oregon cleanup hitter Jacob Walsh to foul tip a fastball for an inning-ending K.

The Bruins and Ducks wrap up the series on Sunday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. Freshman right-hander Thatcher Hurd (2-0, 1.07 ERA) is scheduled to toe the rubber for UCLA.