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Bruins Set to Face Utah in Road Series

Apr 7, 2022
JonJon Vaughns (photo: Jan Kim Lim)

No. 15 UCLA (20-8, 6-3 Pac-12) at Utah (17-11-1, 4-5 Pac-12)
Friday, Apr. 8, 2022 - 5:00 p.m. PT
Saturday, Apr. 9, 2022 - 1:00 p.m. PT

Sunday, Apr. 10, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. PT
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah (Smith's Ballpark)
Stream: Pac-12 Now App / Pac-12.com
Live Stats

Bruins Head to the Beehive State For Three-Game Set at Utah    
No. 15-ranked UCLA (20-8, 6-3 Pac-12) opens up a four-game road trip this weekend, traveling to Salt Lake City for a three-game set at conference rival Utah (17-11-1, 4-5). All three games will be streamed live on Pac-12.com. Fans can also follow along with live stats on UCLABruins.com, and Twitter updates from @UCLABaseball.

Quick Hits    

  • UCLA is 20-8 so far on the season, 9-1 in the last 10 games, and has won a season-high six straight games
  • The Bruins have trailed at some point in each of the last five games (all wins), and have claimed four straight one-run wins
  • UCLA ranks top-10 nationally in ERA (2.50, 2nd), WHIP (1.03, 2nd), K-BB ratio (3.9, 4th), and H/9 (6.7, 6th)
  • The Bruins have allowed single-digit runs in three straight (and four of their last five) weekend series
  • UCLA was crowned champion of the Shriner's Children's College Classic in Houston (2-1 record, plus-15 run differential)
  • The Bruins have won five straight midweek games, after starting the year 0-2 in such contests
  • UCLA is 47-54 this season in stolen base tries (87% success rate), including 16 SBs from Kenny Oyama in as many tries
  • The Bruins have struck out 10+ batters in 13 of 28 games so far, including a season-high 19 vs. LBSU on Mar. 1
  • 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, Apr. 8 - 5:00 p.m. PT 
UCLA – Jake Brooks, RHP, So. (5-2, 2.12 ERA)
Utah – Matt Sox, RHP, RSr. (2-1, 5.49 ERA)
Saturday, Apr. 9 - 1:00 p.m. PT 
UCLA – Max Rajcic, RHP, So. (3-3, 2.93 ERA)
Utah – Jaden Harris, RHP, Fr. (1-0, 4.91 ERA)
Sunday, Apr. 10 - 12:00 p.m. PT 
UCLA – Gage Jump, LHP, Fr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA)
Utah – Cam Day, RHP, Fr. (1-3, 7.03 ERA)

The Week In Review    
UCLA has gone 4-0 over the last week (all at home), sweeping No. 20 Oregon before securing a 5-4 midweek win over LMU:

  • Jake Brooks pitched into the ninth inning for the first time in his career and JonJon Vaughns hit a game-tying two-run home run to lead UCLA to a 3-2 win over Oregon on Friday. Vaughns's blast tied it up at 2-2 in the sixth, but the Bruins continued to rally as Jake Palmer doubled and later scored on a Kenny Oyama base hit for the go-ahead run. All three runs came with two outs. Brooks needed just 86 pitches to complete eight-plus innings, facing the minimum in four frames. Gage Jump entered the game with the tying run on second and nobody out in the ninth, but stranded that runner to record his first-career save 
  • Eight of nine starters collected a hit and all nine reached at least once as UCLA clinched the series with a 4-3 Saturday win. Tommy Beres sparked a pair pair of run-scoring rallies as part of his first-career multi-hit day. Oregon made it interesting late, scoring a run in the ninth to make it a one-run game, but Kelly Austin got the final out to record his first collegiate save. Max Rajcic allowed just two earned over a career-high six innings to pick up the win
  • UCLA finished off the sweep with a 5-4 Sunday win. Oregon plated a single run in each of the first four innings, but the Bruins battled back to tie it on an RBI double from Malakhi Knight in the sixth, and Kyle Karros put UCLA up for good with a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh. Jake Saum (4 IP, 1 H, 4 K) and Gage Jump (2 IP, 0 H) closed out the final six innings of the game without allowing a run, helping the Bruins cover after starting pitcher Thatcher Hurd departed in the first inning. Catcher Darius Perry hit his first collegiate home run and threw out a pair of runners in arguably his strongest performance as a Bruin to date
  • Kyle Karros and Cody Schrier each hit clutch home runs late to lead UCLA to a 5-4 walk-off win over Loyola Marymount on Tuesday. The Bruins trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the ninth in that contest, but Karros tied it up with one swing of the bat after clanging a three-run home run off the left field foul pole. Two innings later, Schrier pounced on the first pitch of the bottom of the 11th and sent it over the left field fence for a walk-off home run. The Bruins employed seven pitchers in a bullpen game, posting a zero in 10 of 11 defensive innings. Key arms included Kelly Austin (3 IP, 3K), Ethan Flanagan (2.2 IP, 5 K), and Chris Aldrich (1 IP, 0 H, first career W), who were all unscored upon. Ethan Gourson added two doubles for UCLA
  • All four of UCLA's wins over the last week were by one run, and in comeback fashion

In The Polls    
UCLA appeared in all five major national polls this week, checking in as high as No. 12 (Collegiate Baseball) while also appearing at No. 15 (D1Baseball), No. 17 (USA TODAY Coaches Poll), No. 18 (Baseball America), and No. 19 (NCBWA). UCLA's No. 12 ranking from Collegiate Baseball is its highest this season. The Bruins were ranked as high as No. 22 in the preseason polls. UCLA re-entered the national top-25 this week after a three-week absence. The Bruins have taken series over ranked teams in each of the last two weekends. 

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:

  • 2.50 ERA and 148-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 133 1/3 innings
  • 37 total earned runs allowed (1.4 per game)
  • 0.98 WHIP, 10.0 K/9
  • 9/28 games with 0 ER allowed, 16/28 games with 1 ER or fewer allowed, 23/28 games with 2 ER or fewer allowed
  • Allowed more than four hits just six times in 28 games

In The Zone    
As is the case most years, the Bruins have been adept so far in 2022 at limiting free passes. Entering the week, UCLA is second in the country in WHIP (1.03), and fourth in walks allowed per nine innings (2.6) and K-BB ratio (3.9). The Bruins have sizable advantages over their opponents in walks drawn vs. issued (156-74) and HBPs drawn vs. issued (62-12). 

Savage Hits One Milestone in 2022, On Track for Another    
Bruins' head coach John Savage recorded his 600th career win at UCLA after defeating Harvard on Mar. 18. Entering the weekend, Savage needs three further wins to reach 700 overall in his career. He also coached his 1,000th game overall at UCLA on Apr. 5 vs. LMU.

The All-Time Series Against Utah    
UCLA owns a 31-5 record all-time against Utah, including a 24-3 mark since the Utes joined the Pac-12 Conference before the 2012 season. UCLA has won eight of nine series over Utah since 2012, and has won its last 13 head-to-head games against the Utes. 

Last Year Against the Utes    
The Bruins swept a three-game home series against Utah last season. Notably, the Bruins posted exactly 42 runs over the set, the same weekend the team was wearing its "42" hats to honor Jackie Robinson Day, which is celebrated annually by MLB on Apr. 15. In a further coincidence, UCLA notched 47 hits during the three-game set (Robinson broke MLB's color barrier in 1947). Big contributors from last year's series still on the UCLA roster include Josh Hahn (7-9, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs), Michael Curialle (4-10, 2 triples, 6 RBIs), Kyle Karros (5-13), Max Rajcic (0 H, 0 R in 2 IP), and Jake Brooks (0 R in 2 IP). 

Welcome Back, Karros    
Sophomore third baseman Kyle Karros made his return to the lineup last week, and has batted a team-best .400 (8-20) over five starts in his first action since Feb. 19. Karros had a huge moment in each of UCLA's last two games, hitting a go-ahead (and ultimately game-winning) solo home run in the seventh inning of Sunday's series finale against Oregon. He followed that up with a game-tying three-run bomb in the bottom of the ninth against LMU on Tuesday as UCLA won 5-4 in 11 innings. Karros was a Pac-12 Player of the Week nominee last week. and has hit safely in all seven of his appearances in 2022. 

Rub Some Dirt On It    
UCLA enters the week ranked fifth in the country in offensive HBPs (62). The Bruins have an HBP in 22 of 28 games so far this year (including 14 in a row to start the season) and are averaging 2.2 HBPs per game. The Bruins had 12 batters plunked vs. Harvard (including a season-high six on Mar. 18) and saw another eight batters plunked during the Arizona series. Ethan Gourson leads the Pac-12 and is fifth nationally with 14 HBPs so far in 2022, and five Bruins regulars have at least 6 HBPs. 

Gourson Steps on the Gas    
Freshman second baseman Ethan Gourson has been getting on base any way possible in his first season in Westwood. He leads all qualifying Bruin hitters in each slash category at .289/.484/.500, and has reached base in 18 of the last 19 games. Over that 19-game span, he's posted a .942 OPS while leading the team in doubles (11) and HBPs (9). He's been a versatile piece of the lineup, appearing in each spot of the lineup 2-7 at some point this season. 

Bullpen Making Strides    
After a somewhat slow start to the season, UCLA's bullpen has fared well in recent weeks. Dating to Feb. 25, UCLA relievers have allowed one earned run or fewer in 19 of 23 contests. That span includes 13 games with no earned runs against at all (with a five-game streak of 0 ER from Mar. 1-8). Key relief arms this year have included righty Alonzo Tredwell (1.62 ERA, two saves, 14.6 K/9), swingman southpaw Ethan Flanagan (1.21 ERA, 12.4 K/9), and lefty Jake Saum (2.45 ERA, team-high 14 appearances). The Bruin 'pen has had some of its most effective performances of the year over the last few weeks, limiting UCSB to two hits and no runs over seven innings on Mar. 29, tossing 8 2/3 innings to finish off the win in Sunday's Oregon finale (Saum and Jump combined for six scoreless innings), and posting a zero in seven of eight innings to help get a 5-4 win over LMU in 11 innings on Apr. 5. 

Schrier Springs in March    
After a bit of a cool start to his collegiate career (.258 average in February), UCLA freshman shortstop Cody Schrier has become an offensive difference-maker since the calendar turned over to March. In 20 games dating to Mar. 1, he leads UCLA in home runs (6), at-bats (80), hits (22), RBIs (17), and total bases (41). He had his best offensive performance to date on Mar. 18 against Harvard; he went 4-4, reached base in all six of his plate appearances, and established career highs in hits, runs (four), and RBIs (four). Schrier also launched a walk-off home run in the 11th inning to lead UCLA past LMU on Apr. 5. 

Early Birds    
UCLA is outscoring its opponents at nearly a 2-1 ratio (171-92) overall in 2022, and that advantage is particularly acute in the early innings. In the first three innings of games, the Bruins are outscoring their opponents 69-28 (plus-41), including a 32-10 advantage in the first inning alone. The Bruins are 16-2 this season when scoring first (.889 winning percentage) and 11-1 when scoring in the first inning (.917 winning percentage). 

Vaughns Goes for Extras    
Two-sport standout JonJon Vaughns leads all Bruin regulars with a 1.065 OPS to this point in the season, and he ranks 30th nationally with 25 walks despite starting just 18 games. His .543 OBP would rank eighth nationally if he had met the 75% games played requirement for qualification. He has walked 3+ times in five games this season, and earned a free pass eight times in the Harvard series alone. Interestingly, he's shown an aversion to singles during his collegiate career; he has just 11 singles as a Bruin compared to 17 extra-base hits and 33 walks. Vaughns has reached base in 14 consecutive games, the longest active streak on the team. 

Road Warriors    
UCLA's series win over then-No. 9 Arizona continued a run of recent success for the program on the road. The Bruins have won their last two road series against ranked opponents (at Arizona State; May 27-20, 2021). UCLA also won its last series on the road against a top-10 team (taking two of three at No. 2 Stanford; Apr. 7-9, 2019). This season, the Bruins are 5-2 away from Jackie Robinson Stadium with a plus-29 run differential (49-20). 

Palmer Heating Up    
Graduate first baseman Jake Palmer has been red-hot over a 10-game reached base streak, going 14-34 (.412) while reaching base a further 12 times via walk or HBP. He hit safely in eight consecutive games from Mar. 20 to Apr. 2, the longest hit streak of any Bruin in 2022. His 26 free passes (19 BB, 7 HBP) rank third on a team that has excelled in that area, and he's raised his batting average 109 points (from .175 to .284) since Mar. 6.