On March 2, UCLA went to Dedeaux Field and defeated USC 4-3, extending their win streak over the Trojans to six games. Now, the Bruins and Trojans will meet again, this time at Jackie Robinson Stadium and with Pac 10 implications. Both teams enter the game playing well as the Bruins have won three of four including a series win in Tucson and the Trojans have won two in a row, against Riverside and #18 San Diego.
Friday night's tilt (6 pm PST) will see USC's LHP Tommy Milone square off with UCLA's LHP Tim Murphy. Milone came into the season as the Trojan's third pitcher, however he's been outstanding this season and has earned himself the role of team ace. Milone has a 3-2 record and 2.72 ERA on the year, while striking out 1.1 batter per inning. He does have a tendency to rack up a high pitch count so it's key that the Bruins show discipline at the plate. Murphy got off to an outstanding start to the season, struggled for a couple starts, but bounced back well last weekend versus Arizona. The southpaw went 6.2 innings, allowing just five hits and two runs to lower his ERA to 3.61 on the year. If Murphy can command his fastball and get himself into situations to use his outstanding curveball, the Trojans will be in for a long day.
Saturday afternoon (2 pm PST), USC will send RHP Ryan Cook to the mound to oppose RHP Charles Brewer. Cook's doesn't throw overly hard so he is susceptible to giving up mass amounts of runs when his command is off. The junior has a 4.17 ERA on the year and almost a hit per inning in 2008. It is imperative that the Bruins be aggressive early in counts if Cook's command is on because he has an array of pitches to go to when he gets ahead in the count. Meanwhile, Brewer will look to get back on track after a rocky outing last weekend. While he did pick up the win, Brewer gave up eight runs (five earned) in six innings of work and only registered three strikeouts. This came after two outstanding appearances where he gave up only three runs in 17.2 innings of work.
In Sunday's series finale (1 pm PST), UCLA's LHP Gavin Brooks will take to the hill for the Bruins. The sophomore has had a disappointing campaign thus far, with a 1-2 record and 6.75 ERA. Ever since missing a start with a blister on his throwing hand, Brooks has struggled to find the plate and has not gotten his usual tilt on his curveballs. Brooks will have to perform like he did at the tail end of last season to give the Bruins a chance Sunday and a chance to finish towards the top of the conference. USC has yet to announce who will start Sunday as they continue to scramble to find a third pitcher.
At the plate, USC is led by RF Roberto Lopez who is batting a stellar .400 on the year. He's scored 21 times and has struck out only ten times in 116 plate appearances. 1B Derek Perren has also be outstanding for the Trojans with a .374 batting average and a tea leading 22 RBI. C/RHP Robert Stock, who enrolled at USC last season after his junior year of high school, is finally starting to live up to his enormous hype. The former Baseball America Youth Player of the Year has a .360 batting average on the year and is providing a power bat in the heart of the Trojans lineup.
Come on out to Jackie Robinson Stadium this weekend and watch as our Bruins try to make it seven, eight and nine consecutive over our crosstown rivals.. Friday's game is a 6 pm PST, Saturday's is at 2 pm PST and Sunday's is at 1 pm PST. Tickets for the season are $7 for adults, $5 for children and free for Wooden Club members. If you can't make it out to the game, you can listen to it or follow it on GameTracker via the official site.
Again, I'm going to San Antonio so if anyone is planning to head out to Jackie Robinson Stadium to check out the games and wants to do the recap for the game, just let me know and it's all yours. If not, I'll be happy to write them as always. Go BRUINS!!!