UCLA Baseball: Season Report
The UCLA baseball program has a rich history and hopes to continue to do well this season.
Head coach John Savage continues to lead the 2023 UCLA Bruins baseball program as he is in his 19th season at UCLA. The Bruins are currently 24-16-1 overall and 10-9-1 in conference play but let us look back to last season first to understand where the program is as a whole.
The Bruins finished the 2022 season with a record of 40–24, and 19–11 in conference play. They in the 2022 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament, lost to Auburn in the Auburn Regional. UCLA has done well under Savage and the Bruins were the College World Series runner-up in 2010 and most importantly, were NCAA Tournament national champions in 2013.
The 2023 Bruins returned a number of key players, including All-Pac-12 first baseman Cody Schrier, All-Pac-12 catcher Darius Perry, All-Pac-12 pitcher Ethan Flanagan, and sophomore infielder Alonzo Tredwell but lost All-Pac-12 closer Holden Powell from last season’s team. UCLA also brought back All-Pac-12 defensive infielder Kyle Karros as well.
The Bruins were expected to be one of the top teams in the Pac-12 in 2023 but they are currently in sixth place in the Pac-12 standing. They have a strong mix of experience and youth with a very solid group of sophomores who are leading this UCLA team this season. Second baseman Duce Gourson has done very well this season and has kept the Bruin’s offense going throughout the season.
The team on offense is led by sophomore Gourson whose batting average currently is .314 with 39 RBI’s and eight home runs. Junior Kyle Karros has at this time the highest batting average at .320 and he has 32 RBIs and five home runs on the season. Another player doing fairly well on offense is sophomore Malakhi Knight who is batting .285 after this week’s game against UC Irvine has also 17 RBIs and is seven for eight on stolen bases attempted.
Other Bruins doing fairly well at the plate and hitting above. 275 on the season are sophomore Cody Schrier and senior Darius Perry who combined have 45 RBIs and nine home runs heading into their weekend series with Cal. Besides them, three players may not have a high batting average but on the season sophomore Jack Holman, junior JonJon Vaughns, and junior Carson Yates have combined for 73 RBIs and 19 home runs.
The UCLA pitchers have done well overall but have had their difficulties this season. Some of the top performers on the mound this season are senior Kelly Austin who has nine-game starts and has an impressive 2.34 era with a 4-2 win/loss record. Sophomore Alonzo Tredwell has an era of 3.57 with also a 4-2 win/loss record. Senior reliever Charles Harrison has pitched well with an outstanding 1.19 era in 19 appearances this season. True freshman Cody Delvecchio has pitched very well for the Bruins with a 2.33 era in 30 appearances on the mound this season. In addition, on paper, his stats are not spectacular but junior starting pitcher Jake Brooks has been steady in 11 starts this season. But how have the Bruins done this season and how far can they go in the NCAA tournament?
The Bruins had a great start to their season sweeping Omaha in three games and defeating Pepperdine to start the season 4-0. UCLA went on the road and lost two out of three games to Vanderbilt who is ranked No. 5 in the RPI rankings system. Then the Bruins went on another run winning five straight that included wins over Michigan and Long Beach State and being victorious in all three games in the Southern California College Baseball Classic that included a 5-3 victory over USC. Then UCLA opened Pac-12 play by traveling to Oregon after a very strong start to the season.
After they lost their first game of the series against Oregon, UCLA would once again go on another winning streak to win six straight games. Against the Ducks, the Bruins did well winning two of three games to win the series that included a 16-0 victory over Oregon. Then UCLA swept Arizona winning all three games against the Wildcats and then defeated Washington 5-1 in their series opener against the Huskies. The Bruins started the season 16-3 and 6-1 in conference play and then the season took a turn in the opposite direction.
The Bruins would go on to lose six straight that included losing their series to Washington and Washington State to drop their record to 16-9 overall and 6-5 in Pac-12 play. However, the Bruins would bounce back defeating LBSU and beating Utah twice, and ended their final game in the series with the Utes in a 10-10 tie. After a one-run loss on the road to Pepperdine, the Bruins won two in a row against UC Davis to improve to 21-9-1. Then the roller coaster of a season continued after that with a string of losses for the Bruins.
UCLA would lose the series finale to UC Davis and then lose badly at home to UC Irvine and then the Bruins would lose their series to USC only winning one of three games against the Trojans. UCLA has lost three of their last five games as they head into their series this weekend against Cal. After their series with the Bears that the Bruins have a great opportunity to sweep Cal, UCLA has a very difficult schedule to end the regular season.
UCLA is currently ranked No. 41 currently in the RPI ranking system. The Bruins in the latest college baseball bracketology are currently projected to be in the Austin Regional with Texas, Texas A&M, and Incarnate Word. UCLA has opportunities in the next two weeks to put them in a better position heading into the NCAA tournament but only time will tell how well the season will end for Savage and his program.