The Bruins weren’t leaving anything to chance Saturday.
After stranding the tying and go-ahead runs in the ninth inning of a pitcher’s duel against Baylor on Friday, UCLA baseball (7-4) used its offense to flip a switch and blow out Oklahoma (5-4) on Saturday at the Shriner’s Children’s College Classic in Houston. The game was called after the top of the seventh inning thanks to a temporary mercy rule in effect to help fit three games in at Minute Maid Park, with the Bruins wrapping things up early 15-3.
UCLA only needed three innings to put up its most runs of the season, and they got things rolling right off the bat with six runs in the first.
Freshman second baseman Ethan Gourson, who wound up recording his fourth multi-hit game of the young season, knocked a two-RBI single through the right side to get the Bruins on the board. Junior third baseman Michael Curialle walked to load the bases, forcing Sooners starter David Sandlin off the mound just six batters in.
Sophomore center fielder Carson Yates then stepped up to the plate, earning a spot in the starting lineup one day removed from launching a pinch-hit solo home run, and he made sure to maximize the damage this time around. Yates roped a high line drive to left-center, hitting the structure above the wall for a grand slam that made it 6-0.
After a scoreless second, sophomore right fielder JonJon Vaughns made up for his bases-loaded strikeout in the first by driving in a run on a sac fly in the third. Yates followed that up with another extra-base hit, doubling down the right field line to score Gourson.
Redshirt sophomore catcher Tommy Beres, graduate left fielder Kenny Oyama, graduate first baseman Jake Palmer and freshman shortstop Cody Schrier each drove in a run of their own, making it six straight at-bats that brought a runner across. Through just three innings, UCLA was already up 12.
Hitless fourth and fifth innings didn’t matter much, since the three runs the Bruins scored in the sixth helped make it a double-digit lead – enough to implement the mercy rule. Schrier lifted a leadoff homer deep to left-center, then Vaughn’s RBI double and Yates’ RBI groundout helped them things cap off with a little extra insurance.
Seven different Bruins had an RBI and four of them had multiple – Yates led the way with six. UCLA had 11 hits, seven extra-base hits and five walks to only five strikeouts.
Sophomore right-hander Max Rajcic wound up allowing more earned runs than any Bruin starter so far this season, but considering their combined 0.97 ERA entering Saturday, that was a high bar to reach.
Rajcic had given up one hit and no runs with four strikeouts through three innings of work before running into trouble in the fourth. Two doubles and a single turned into two runs, and after coach John Savage sent freshman left-hander Ethan Flanagan out to clean things up, another run came across on a suicide squeeze.
Oklahoma only got two hits off Flanagan and freshman right-hander Thatcher Hurd, failing to bring another run across for the rest of the day. The young arms combined for five strikeouts in 3.1 innings out of the bullpen without walking a batter, and their respective ERAs both sit well below 1.00 on the year.
UCLA will have a chance to leave the Shriner’s Children’s College Classic with a winning record when it takes on Texas on Sunday. The Longhorns, however, are the No. 1 team in the country and will enter the showdown undefeated.
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