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Darrell Miller Jr. pushes UCLA to series win over Stanford

If you want to win a Pac-12 Conference title, you have to be able to win series on the road. No. 3 UCLA did that this weekend, rallying to win the final two games at Stanford, 10-0 and 9-3, after dropping the opener Friday night.

The Bruins' bats came alive for a combined 19 runs Saturday and Sunday at Sunken Diamond. Leading the way was junior catcher Darrell Miller Jr., who drove in three runs in each of the UCLA victories.

Miller, nephew of UCLA basketball great Reggie Miller, played sparingly his first two seasons, accumulating just 19 at-bats. But when Shane Zeile signed with the Detroit Tigers organization after being drafted in the fifth round last year, the door opened for Miller. He has taken full advantage, starting 34 of the Bruins' first 40 games this season.

He has been a stellar defender all year, and though he is batting just .256, Miller has found his stroke in Pac-12 play. On Saturday, he went two for four with a walk and a double to push UCLA (31-9, 16-5 in conference...

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UCLA football: Linebacker Aaron Wallace ready for big senior season

There is something different about UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace this spring.

“[Defensive coordinator] Tom Bradley asked him how he was doing the other day and Aaron said, ‘It’s going great,’” Coach Jim Mora said.

So?

“It was the enthusiasm,” Mora said. “I had never seen that. He seems to like football again.”

It wasn’t so much Wallace disliked football before. But now there is a sense that, with one season left, there is no time to waste.

There have been changes, with the hiring of Bradley and the promotion of Scott White from a staff member to linebacker coach. And there is opportunity. If there is a concern for the Bruins on defense, it’s at outside linebacker.

Wallace could be a fit there.

“I’m just having fun again,” Wallace said. “Me and Scott have a good relationship. He’s been here for a while. The transition was easy for me.”

The next transition Wallace would like to make is into the role of starter.

Myles Jack is expected to see more time at inside linebacker this fall. Deon...

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Former UCLA pitcher Matt Grace makes MLB debut

Former UCLA pitcher Matt Grace made his major league debut Wednesday night for the Washington Nationals. The left-hander pitched a scoreless seventh inning in the Nationals' 7-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Grace replaced Doug Fister to start the inning. He got left-handed hitters Matt Carpenter and Jason Heyward to ground out before getting a coaching visit to the mound. Grace walked Matt Holliday on a 3-and-2 pitch and got Matt Adams to ground out to end the inning.

Ten of Grace's 15 pitches were strikes with his fastball registering at 91-92 mph and his slider at 82-84 mph.

Grace was called up from triple-A Syracuse earlier in the day when the Nationals put reliever Felipe Rivero on the disabled list because of gastrointestinal bleeding and traded reliever Xavier Cedeno to the Dodgers for cash.

The Nationals selected Grace in the eighth round of the 2010 amateur draft out of UCLA after he was a key reliever on the team that featured No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole and No. 3 pick...

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UCLA football: Jake Brendel has taken on more responsibility

UCLA has been without offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who was suspended last month while an investigation into alleged NCAA violations lurches along.

That doesn’t mean the Bruins have been without his voice.

Senior center Jake Brendel has assumed some added responsibilities with Klemm out. He was seen Wednesday showing technique to a couple of younger players.

“There is a certain way Coach Klemm likes things done,” Brendel said. “That’s something I know very well. I just make sure try to keep the mentality the way it was when he is here.”

But, Brendel claimed, “it’s not like I’m the guy.”

Not true, defensive line coach Angus McClure said.

McClure, a former offensive line coach, has worked with the unit this spring and has seen the value of Brendel.

“I think Jake’s experience has been huge for that offensive line,” McClure said. “He has been the rock for that offensive line the last four years. He has a coach’s mentality. He pushes the guys around him. They look up to him, so they respect...

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LiAngelo Ball becomes UCLA's first verbal commit in 2017 class

The UCLA men’s basketball team could have a pair of Ball brothers in the backcourt in two seasons. Shooting guard LiAngelo Ball has verbally committed to the Bruins, according to multiple reports.

His brother, five-star point guard Lonzo Ball, a member of the 2016 recruiting class, verbally committed more than a year ago.

The younger Ball, who is 6-feet-4, was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. He is the first member of UCLA’s 2017 recruiting class.

Both Ball brothers play for Chino Hills. A third brother, LaMelo, will join them there next season.

Last year, Chino Hills Coach Steve Baik told the Los Angeles Times the youngest Ball could be the best.

“Everybody in his family says he’s going to be better than Lonzo and LiAngelo,” Baik said.

Twitter: @zhelfand

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UCLA signs junior college center Ikenna Okwarabizie

Less than two weeks ago, the UCLA men’s basketball team lost a raw but athletic big man when Wanaah Bail decided to transfer. Now, the Bruins have picked up another. Junior college transfer Ikenna Okwarabizie has signed a national letter of intent with UCLA, the team announced Monday.

Okwarabizie visited the school over the weekend and tweeted that he would become a Bruin.

In a release, UCLA listed Okwarabizie as a center, at 6 feet 9 and 250 pounds.

Until last week, UCLA had been recruiting five-star center Stephen Zimmerman, but Zimmerman announced he was headed to Nevada Las Vegas.

“Ike brings great size, strength and physicality to the table and will certainly help our play in the post,” Coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “He comes from a very good program at Tyler Junior College and has been coached well. We needed to add depth to our interior, and we know that Ike will help us fill that need.”

UCLA has plenty of frontcourt depth. Senior Tony Parker is the lone returning starter,...

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