May 29, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Pre-season All-American Matt McLain leads highly-ranked UCLA into season opener

Shortstop Matt McLain leads UCLA’s baseball team into an opening weekend series. (Photo courtesy Don Liebig/ASUCLA)

Former Beckman High School standout Matt McLain leads the UCLA baseball team, ranked No. 2 in the country in five major pre-season polls, into this weekend’s opening series at home against University of San Francisco.

The teams play Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Due to protocol as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, no fans will be allowed. A radio broadcast will be live streamed on UCLABruins.com.

UCLA, coached by John Savage, is the consensus pre-season pick to capture the Pac-12 title.

McLain, a junior shortstop, has already hauled in a number of pre-season honors. He has been named a unanimous first team pre-season All-American by D1Baseball, Baseball America, Perfect Game, Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA.

He was also selected the Pac-12 pre-season player of the year by both Baseball America and D1Baseball.

In the 2020 abbreviated season, McLain was a second team All-American with a .397 batting average, three home runs and 19 RBI.

In 2018, McLain was drafted in the first round by the Arizona Diamondbacks but turned down a $2.6 million signing bonus to honor his commitment with UCLA. He is again expected to be a first-round pick in the next Major League draft. He was the CIF Division 2 player of the year in 2018 with Coach Kevin Lavalle’s Beckman team.

“UCLA has been my dream every since I was in elementary school,” McLain told OC Sports Zone in July 2018. “I was writing about it in my third grade class and ever since I’ve always dreamed of going to UCLA and playing at Jackie Robinson Stadium.”

Another former Orange County star Kyle Mora (Los Alamitos High School) also returns for the Bruins. The fifth-year senior was named to the D1Baseball pre-season All-American team. He has been an effective pitcher out of the bullpen in 92 appearances over the last threee years. Mora has a career ERA of 2.10 at UCLA.

Also returning for UCLA is senior right-handed pitcher Zach Pettway (Long Beach Wilson). Pettway was named was a first team pre-season All-American by Collegiate Baseball and D1Baseball.

Source: UCLA Athletic Communications