On a picturesque opening day, eight players made their Bruins debuts and helped the blue-and-gold make things easier for the Matadors.
Fans returned to the stands at Jackie Robinson Stadium to watch UCLA Baseball (1-0) enter the field Thursday night, and the Bruins showed their batting and throwing potential from the first pitch to the final by beating CSUN (0 -1) 9-2. Freshman middle fielder Malakhi Knight and junior left fielder Michael Curialle combined seven of UCLA’s 16 hits Friday night, starting their respective campaigns on a high.
Knight went 3 for 4 in the ball game, hitting his first career home run in the seventh, launching a sinker well past the left field wall. Curialle — one of four Bruins returning to the starting lineup — had an effective first game of the season, getting the base on each of his first four at-bats and finishing the night 4-for-5.
On the mound, the Bruins put on an ace-worthy performance from second-year right-hander Jake Brooks. After five scoreless innings, Brooks earned his first win of the season with five strikeouts, while allowing only two hits and two walks.
Senior first baseman Jake Moberg kicked off the Bruins’ offensive explosion on Friday, hitting a single to lead in the bottom of the second and scoring on sophomore third baseman Kyle Karros’ triple. On the next bat, freshman second baseman Ethan Gourson collected his first collegiate hit, powering a pitch into right field to score Karros from third.
UCLA had a 2-0 lead going into the third inning, and that advantage quickly widened.
The Bruins exploded in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs and creating enough running support for Brooks to work with. An RBI single from Loyola Marymount transfer graduate Kenny Oyama scored Gourson, who started the frame with a single.
From then on, the formation continued to pass the bat. Freshman shortstop Cody Schrier hit a sacrifice fly to score Knight from third and Oyama scored when Curialle hit just one second after the 5-foot-4 outfielder stole second.
Moberg nailed one more frame with an RBI single that extended the Bruins’ lead to 6-0.
It was at this point that Brooks was fired in favor of entering rookie Alonzo Tredwell, and the Matadors managed to get their first innings of the game.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander allowed a brace into left center space that scored both runners on base. However, only one run was charged to Tredwell, with one of the runners reaching a drop ball error from Oyama in left field.
CSUN’s runs didn’t phase UCLA, which added two more in the bottom of the seventh on Knight’s Homer and a double play from Curialle.
Freshman pitcher Luke Jewett came in in the seventh and struck out six straight batters in the eighth inning — a perfect two-inning stint. Redshirt freshman pitcher Chris Aldrich came in to pitch the ninth and end the game.
Aldrich did what coach John Savage asked of him – mowed down all three batters he faced, sealing the Bruins’ triumph over the Matadors.
UCLA will return to end the series against CSUN on Saturday and Sunday, with the first pitch at 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. respectively.
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