UCLA won’t have to travel far for its ninth postseason appearance since 2006.
The Bruins earned the No. 3 seed in the Long Beach Regional for the NCAA tournament when the field of 64 was announced during Monday’s selection show.
After missing postseason play last year, UCLA (30-25) finished third in the Pac-12 and 51st in RPI.
UCLA will play Texas (37-22) in the first round of the four-team, double-elimination regional tournament on Friday at Blair Field at 4 p.m. Big West champion Long Beach State (37-17-1) will face Mountain West champion San Diego State (41-19) at 8 p.m. in the first round. Both games will be on ESPN2.
The only regional team the Bruins have a win against this year is host Long Beach State. UCLA outlasted the Dirtbags 2-1 in 11 innings on April 18 and then won 5-1 on April 25, but got swept in a three-game series by Texas in March and lost both games against San Diego State. The Aztecs won 5-4 in April at home, then scored four unanswered runs in the eighth and ninth innings for an 8-6 comeback win at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Bruins (30-25, 19-11 Pac-12) are ranked 51st in RPI after finishing third in the Pac-12. They’re hoping to return to the postseason after a one-year hiatus.
A stellar performance from pitcher Jon Olsen in Saturday’s regular-season finale helped seal UCLA’s series victory. The sophomore pitched a career-high 8 innings, allowing four hits and one run with eight strikeouts. Sean Bouchard and Michael Toglia led the Bruins offensively with three RBIs each. Leadoff hitter Brett Stephens when 4 for 6 at the plate.
Griffin Canning pitched a complete-game shutout in Thursday’s opener as the junior struck out 10 while UCLA won 6-0. The Santa Margarita High graduate has 10 or more strikeouts in six of his past seven starts. The Bruins then dropped a pitchers duel Friday, losing 2-1, before winning the series Saturday.
UCLA head coach John Savage (center) honored his four seniors Brett Stephens (far left), Moises Ceja (second from left), Nick Kern (second from right) and Scott Burke (far right), before the team’s final home game Sunday. (Photo courtesy UCLA athletics)
With the postseason inching ever closer, the UCLA baseball team swept an important series against Utah at home to remain in third place in the Pac-12 standings.
The Bruins (28-23, 17-10 Pac-12) are still one game behind second-place Stanford after the Cardinal swept Washington last weekend. Oregon State has already clinched the Pac-12 title.
While celebrating the team’s seniors during their final collegiate home stand, the underclassmen stood out for the Bruins. In the series opener Friday, freshman Jack Stronach went 2 for 3 with a solo home run and three RBIs in UCLA’s 7-3 win. On Saturday, fellow freshmen Chase Strumpf and Michael Toglia drove in all of UCLA’s runs in its 5-3 victory as Strumpf hit a grand slam and Toglia drew a bases-loaded walk. Sophomore Daniel Amaral went 4 for 4 in Sunday’s 8-3 win to help UCLA clinch its third Pac-12 sweep this year.
The Bruins have four regular-season games left, starting with a midweek game at UC Irvine on Tuesday before finishing with a three-game road series against Oregon.
Elsewhere in UCLA athletics:
Men’s tennis lost 4-2 to Georgia in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in a weather-delayed match that took nearly eight hours in total. The No. 5 Bruins won the doubles point, but lost a critical first-set tiebreaker at No. 6 singles that left the door open for the Bulldogs to come back. The teams split the six first sets 3-3, and No. 13 Georgia, playing on its home courts, took advantage of the UCLA slip-up to grab singles wins at Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 6 to advance to the Final Four. Martin Redlicki, who won his singles match at No. 1, will compete as an individual in the NCAA Singles Championships and pair with Evan Zhu in the Doubles Championships.
UCLA secured its second Pac-12 sweep of the season this weekend by dominating rival USC at Dedeaux Field.
The Bruins (24-20, 13-8 Pac-12) finished the three-game sweep Saturday with a 13-0 drubbing, led by six RBIs from freshman Michael Toglia and five shutout innings from pitcher Jon Olsen. Olsen’s seven strikeouts were the second-most of the sophomore’s career.
USC’s only runs of the weekend came Friday, but were no match for UCLA’s Ryan Kreidler, who was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, including two game-winning RBIs in the ninth inning.
Junior pitcher Griffin Canning shut down the Trojans (19-25, 6-15 Pac-12) in Thursday’s series opener with 10 strikeouts in a complete game as the Bruins won 2-0. The UCLA ace has thrown seven or more innings in five of his past six starts.
The Bruins hadn’t swept a Pac-12 opponent since the second weekend of the conference season when they beat Cal.
Elsewhere in UCLA athletics:
Softball took two of three from No. 3 Arizona at Easton Stadium on Senior Weekend. The No. 12 Bruins shut out the second-highest scoring team in the country in back-to-back games to start the series before Arizona avoided the sweep Sunday to clinch the Pac-12 title. The Wildcats had been shut out only once this season, a 1-0 loss to No. 1 Florida State in February. UCLA (39-12, 13-8 Pac-12) was the first team to mercy rule the Wildcats this year with an 8-0, five-inning win in Friday’s series opener. Rachel Garcia gave up only two hits in five innings in the circle while Bubba Nickles had three RBIs. Madeline Jelenicki led the Bruins in their 6-0 win Saturday with four RBIs as Selina Ta’amilo and Garcia gave up just six hits combined. Garcia struck out five in 2 2/3 innings pitched to earn the save after Ta’amilo earned her 13th win of the year. Arizona (48-7, 18-6 Pac-12) scored four runs in the first inning Sunday before winning 7-2 to close the series.
Christina Chenault, Kendall Gustafson and Monique Van placed fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the heptathlon at the Pac-12 Combined Event Championships. The trio of Bruins scored 12 team points for UCLA heading into the Pac-12 Championships from May 13-14 in Eugene, Ore.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts still holds the UCLA single-season record for stolen bases (photo/uclabruins.com)
In advance of the Dodgers’ UCLA night on April 28, manager Dave Roberts spoke about his four years in Westwood. He chose to walk on to the UCLA baseball team instead of accepting a football scholarship to be an option quarterback at Air Force.
Before he even chose a sport, Roberts’ athletic career nearly ended as a sophomore in high school. He blew out his knee so badly that he needed a second opinion to find a doctor who told him he could ever play sports again. He went on to win a CIF championship as Rancho Buena Vista’s quarterback before choosing baseball in college.
Roberts didn’t just pass through UCLA. He spend four years there, the fourth being the most vital to launching a 10-year playing career in major league baseball. There were more than 1,300 players selected ahead of him, including nine UCLA teammates, in the 1993 MLB draft. He returned to UCLA, where he set a school record with 45 stolen bases, and achieved career highs in batting average (.353), on-base percentage (.445) and slugging percentage (.468). He was drafted 21 rounds earlier in 1994.
Roberts spent three seasons playing for the Dodgers, but his most notable feat came as a member of the Red Sox. Roberts famously stole second base and eventually scored the tying run in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees. The Red Sox won in extra innings and didn’t lose again on the way to snapping an 86-year drought and winning the 2004 World Series.