By Steve Parkhurst March 5, 2022
HOUSTON - About ten minutes before the first pitch of Saturday's game between Oklahoma and UCLA on day two of the Shriners College Classic, rain began to fall on Houston and the roof over Minute Maid Park moved into action and closed in time for the scheduled first pitch.
Saturday was all about UCLA, even before they came to bat. JonJon Vaughns ended the top of the first behind starter Max Rajcic by making a catch as he ran into the right-field wall.
Kenny Oyama (2-for-3) singled to lead off the Bruins first and that was followed by two walks to load the bases. A single through the hole between first and second by Ethan Gourson (2-for-4) drove in two for the Bruins. A third walk in the inning was the end of the day for Oklahoma starter David Sandlin. One out later, UCLA first baseman Carson Yates hit a grand slam off the wall in left field and UCLA had a commanding 6-0 lead going to the second inning after they batted through the order. For Yates, it was his second home runs in as many at-bats, he homered on Friday in a ninth inning pinch-hitting appearance.
After a scoreless second frame, the Bruins put together another six run inning in the third aided by four doubles as UCLA batted around again. Yates (2-for-4) accounted for one of the doubles and picked up his fifth RBI of the game.
In the Oklahoma fourth, Jackson Nicklaus got the Sooners on the board with a one-out double to right that drove in a run, and Cade Horton drove in another run with a single. A squeeze bunt sacrifice by Sebastian Orduno plated a third run in the frame, but Oklahoma still had a long way to go as they trailed 12-3. Rajcic departed the game in the fourth and Ethan Flanagan took his place on the mound.
The Bruins added three runs in the sixth on a leadoff home run by Cody Schrier (2-for-4) to deep left-center and a run-scoring ground rule double by Vaughns that bounced over the right field wall.
After a scoreless top of the seventh for the Sooners as they faced UCLA's Thatcher Hurd, the game was called because of the run rule. UCLA improved to 7-4 with the 15-3 victory and Flanagan (1-0) picked up the win for his two innings of work.
UCLA looks to win the weekend on Sunday when they face Texas in the day's middle game, while Oklahoma looks to salvage the weekend with at least one win when they face Tennessee to begin Sunday's action.
Steve Parkhurst is a baseball writer based in Houston, Texas