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Early Power, Late Bullpen Effort Help UCLA Baseball Clinch Series Over Oregon State

The Bruins won their second in a row over the Beavers behind a few extra-base hits in the opening innings and critical relief efforts by Charles Harrison and Alonzo Tredwell.

For the second-straight night, the Bruins placed a dent in the Beavers’ Pac-12 regular season title hopes while riding a clutch hitting effort and efficient bullpen outing to bolster their own.

No. 23 UCLA baseball (35-19, 19-10 Pac-12) built off of their Thursday night victory over No. 2 Oregon State (40-11, 19-10 Pac-12) by coming back on Friday and winning by the same margin. The 7-4 victory provided an offense-focused effort from the Bruins, as well as a second-half pitching performance that stunned the Beavers’ bats into silence.

The series win in Corvallis marked the first time UCLA had won a three-game series at Oregon State since 2010, but it also marked their third-straight series win over the Beavers.

After only five runs were scored in the first game of the series, the Bruins and Beavers combined for eight runs through the first three innings alone on Friday. And in another change of pace from Thursday’s contest, the longball played a large factor at Goss Stadium.

Freshman starting pitcher Ethan Flanagan took the mound in the bottom of the first with a 1-0 lead – graduate first baseman Jake Palmer doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the frame – but he could not hold on to the advantage as Beavers center fielder Jacob Melton made his impact felt early.

The Pac-12’s RBI leader launched a three-run home run over the right-field wall to give the hosts a 3-1 lead. However, the Bruins battled right back just a half-inning later.

Sophomore center fielder Carson Yates responded with a three-run shot of his own, putting UCLA back ahead 4-3 with his short, impactful swing.

In true back-and-forth fashion, Oregon State did not let the blue and gold have the lead for long – Beavers right fielder Justin Boyd blasted an inside fastball over the left-field wall to tie the affair.

UCLA was threatening to go back ahead in the fifth, but junior designated hitter Josh Hahn got called for a controversial delay of game that resulted in an automatic strike three. That led to the Bruins stranding runners on second and third, but two conference newcomers soon combined to give their team the lead in the pivotal Pac-12 showdown.

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Palmer stepped up to the plate with graduate left fielder Kenny Oyama on second and two outs in the inning. UCLA’s batting average leader laced a line drive through the infield, and the former UC Irvine transfer was able to score the former Loyola Marymount transfer to jump in front 5-4.

In the top of the ninth, freshman second baseman Ethan Gourson ripped a single up the middle, which scored Palmer from third and gave the Bruins a 6-4 lead. Sophomore third baseman Kyle Karros followed that up with a double off the left-field wall to add on another insurance run for good measure.

Flanagan had weathered Oregon State’s pesky hitting approach for 4.0 innings before coach John Savage gave him the hook, and he struck out five batters while walking four and allowing four runs. Junior right-hander Charles Harrison – who pitched a scoreless inning on Thursday – piggybacked off the lefty for 3.0 more scoreless innings Friday, throwing a career-high 65 pitches and holding the Beavers at four runs through the seventh.

Freshman righties Luke Jewett and Alonzo Tredwell combined to throw a scoreless eighth inning, with the latter securing the final two outs of the frame after inheriting one runner when he entered.

The Bruins’ closer continued his outing into the ninth and worked a clean inning to finalize the win. Tredwell struck out two batters, earning his fifth save of the campaign and back-to-back saves for the first time in his career.

No. 4 Stanford’s blowout victory over USC – its 11th in a row – confirmed that UCLA would not be the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament due to a tiebreaker they lost to the Cardinal earlier in the season. The lowest the blue and gold can be seeded is No. 3, but if the Bruins complete the sweep over the Beavers, they would be the No. 2 seed.

UCLA can also preserve its shot at the Pac-12 regular season championship if it wins the series finale Sunday, but they would still require crosstown rival USC to upset Stanford. Given that this is going to be the first-ever Pac-12 Baseball Tournament, it remains to be seen whether or not the conference will honor the regular season champion on Sunday.

The Bruins will wrap up the regular season Saturday at 12 p.m. as redshirt sophomore pitcher Kelly Austin takes the mound to try and defeat the Beavers for the third day in a row.

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