No. 15 Bruins Rally for 6-5 Win in Utah Opener
SALT LAKE CITY – The No. 15-ranked UCLA baseball team opened its Pac-12 series against Utah with a 6-5 comeback win in 10 innings on Friday night at Smith's Ballpark.
The Bruins (21-8, 7-3 Pac-12) trailed 5-1 after six innings, but scored four runs late to send it to extras before plating the game-winning run in the top of the tenth.
It was the fifth consecutive game that UCLA rallied back from at least two down for a one-run win. The Bruins have won a season-high seven games overall, the program's longest winning streak since 2020.
Several Bruins played big roles in the comeback effort.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Kelly Austin received the win for the Bruins after an admirable two-inning outing on the mound.
Austin inherited a two-on, nobody out jam in a 5-5 game in the bottom of the ninth, but shut down the Utes (17-12-1, 4-6) to send the game to extras. The first batter he faced sac bunted to move both runners into scoring position, but Kelly responded by quickly striking out the next batter on three pitches for the second out. After an intentional walk to load the bases, Austin got a ground ball to first to escape the jam unscathed.
Austin went on to post a 1-2-3 frame in the bottom of the 10th to end the game.
The Bruins began their charge back in the top of the seventh. Still down 5-1, freshman shortstop Cody Schrier made it a three-run game with a solo home run inside the left field foul pole (his team-leading seventh HR of the season).
UCLA came all the way back in the next inning, tying it up with a three-spot. The Bruins were able to load the bases with nobody out in the frame courtesy of two walks and a hit by pitch, and junior DH Josh Hahn cashed in two of those runners with an RBI single down the left field line.
From there, graduate left fielder Kenny Oyama and sophomore pinch-hitter Daylen Reyes executed to knot the game up at 5-5. With Reyes up at the plate, Oyama successfully stole third base to get within 90 feet of home with just one out. Reyes went on to win a 12-pitch battle against Utah closer Blake Whiting, lining the final pitch of the plate appearance to medium center, easily plating Oyama.
The go-ahead rally in the tenth was sparked by a leadoff double into the right-center field gap from sophomore center fielder Carson Yates, his third knock of the night. Yates moved up to third on a successful Oyama sacrifice, which allowed him to come across for the go-ahead run when Brady Maylett uncorked a wild pitch.
UCLA starter Jake Brooks pitched into the seventh inning, striking out five and allowing five runs on nine hits.
Utah was led by shortstop Matt Richardson, who went 2-5 with a home run and three RBIs. Left fielder TJ Clarkson went 2-4 and reached base three times. Starting pitcher Matthew Sox allowed two earned over 6 1/3 innings of work.
Whiting was charged with the loss for the Utes after allowing Yates's double in the tenth.
UCLA and Utah resume the series on Saturday with a 1:00 p.m. matinee.