Jackie Robinson Stadium backstop, Credit: Jeff Poirier
The No. 9 UCLA baseball team traveled to Pullman this weekend and claimed a fourth consecutive series win over Washington State. The Bruins came out on top in the first two games to clinch it, but the Cougars did salvage the series with a one-run win on Sunday.
With the pair of victories, UCLA (27-13, 11-7 Pac-12) kept itself within striking distance of conference-leading Oregon State (34-8, 14-4 Pac-12). But with less than a month left in the regular season, the Bruins need an extremely strong finish to catch the sixth-ranked Beavers. And after two straight weeks of road games, perhaps the best thing UCLA could have asked for was a lengthy stay at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Bruins will kick off an eight-game homestand on Tuesday night when they host UC Irvine for the second part of a home-and-home series. UCLA topped the Anteaters just two weeks ago in Irvine, a 6-4 decision that lasted 12 innings. In that game, the Bruins were trailing 4-2 in the top of the ninth when junior OF Brenton Allen stepped up to the plate.
Needless to say, that’s when the magic happened, as Allen blasted a two-run homer over the right field wall to knot the score. UCLA then jumped in front with two more in the 12th, and that was all she wrote. It was an exhilarating win for the Bruins, especially since UCI is no slouch, but it won’t be easy to replicate. Head coach John Savage will need to have his team ready to go in the rematch if a season sweep is to be.
After the midweek matchup, UCLA will host last-place Utah (16-23, 5-16 Pac-12) for a three-game conference set. To be frank, the Bruins need to sweep the Utes in order to keep up in the standings—two out of three won’t cut it. After this weekend, there are only three Pac-12 series left, so UCLA can’t afford to miss the chance for three wins versus UU.
Next week, the Bruins round out their homestand by hosting Cal State Northridge on Tuesday and Arizona (28-14, 9-9 Pac-12) over the weekend. Like the series with the Anteaters, UCLA already took the road game from CSUN, a 5-4 final back in March. When the Matadors make their way to Westwood, the Bruins will hopefully be looking for a second straight non-conference sweep. And if UCLA is still in the conversation when the Cats come to town after that, it should be another exciting weekend of baseball from JRS.