Bumped. GO BRUINS.-N
The Bruins' tournament resume can either take a hit or get a huge bump this weekend when they host the fourth ranked Arizona St. Sun Devils for a three game set at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Arizona St. is considered one of the best teams in the country with a 35-7 record and enters this weekend tied for first in the conference at 10-5. Meanwhile, UCLA is 23-18 overall and 6-6 in the Pac 10, good for fourth place. Need confirmation that this weekend series is a big one? Saturday's game will be broadcast nationally on FSN (tape delayed on FSN Prime Ticket in Los Angeles).
Arizona St. is on track to not only receive a #1 seed and host a regional, but to receive a national seed and host a super-regional should the advance there. UCLA finds itself squarely on the bubble at the moment, but has the opportunity to move themselves into the tournament field with a strong finish. The Bruins have 19 games left, 16 of which are Pac 10 games against Arizona St., Oregon St., Washington St. and Cal, all RPI top 25 teams. Their three midweek, non-conference games are against UC Irvine, San Diego and Cal State Fullerton, all RPI top 30 teams. Considering the Pac 10 is far and away the nation's top conference, a top five conference finish should ensure them a spot in the field of 64.
This weekend's series begins Friday night (6 pm PST) when ASU's RHP Mike Leake faces off with UCLA's LHP Tim Murphy. Leake has been solid all season, holding opposing batters to a .254 batting average en route to a 7-1 record and 3.29 ERA. Even when Leake struggles, you can count on him to give the Sun Devils a lot of innings like last weekend when he gave up seven runs, but pitched all nine innings against Cal. Murphy has pitched decent of late, but has lacked run support and has only picked up one win in his past four starts. He'll bring a 3-3 record and 3.49 ERA into Friday's game and will look to replicate his start last year against Arizona St. Pitching in Tempe last year, Murphy allowed only three runs in eight innings against one of the nation's best offenses while striking out a career high 14 batters.
Neither team is quite sure who will take to the mound for Saturday's nationally televised game (4 pm PST). UCLA usually sends RHP Charles Brewer to the hill on Saturday's, however he tweaked his ankle and may not be able to make is start. If he is unable to go, the Bruins will likely send LHP Matt Drummond to the hill. Drummond has been one of the Bruins' best relievers this year and has pitched well enough in his couple starts to give the Bruins a chance to win. Arizona St. has struggled to find a Saturday starter all season. They were starting LHP Josh Satow on Saturday's, but have since moved him to Sunday's. There is an outside chance he could start Saturday, but most likely RHP Stephen Sauer will get the nod. Sauer is 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA on the year, but is usually hit hard the second time around the lineup and rarely goes deep into games.
Sunday's series finale (1 pm PST) will feature Arizona St.'s Satow and UCLA's LHP Gavin Brooks. Satow is 5-2 on the year, but has a 5.40 ERA and is walking over four batters per nine innings. If the Bruins can be patient, there is a good chance they will get in a lot of good hitters counts and pound Satow. If they are overly aggressive, Satow can use his devastating slider and changeup to put batters away. Opposite Satow, Brooks has been the Bruins' best pitcher of late. The junior has won his last four starts as he is finally showing the stuff that gave Bruin fans such high hopes. Brooks has given up two earned runs in each of his past four starts while going 8.1, 8, 6 and 7 innings in those four starts.
All the Bruin pitchers will be in for a tough weekend as they battle one of the country's premier lineups. Only one starting Sun Devil is batting below .300 and all have on-base percentages over .400. They are led by two of the conference's best hitters, 3B Brett Wallace and 1B Ike Davis. Wallace is a sure bet to be drafted i the first round of the June MLB Draft and rightly so with a .395 batting average and 12 home runs. Davis leads Arizona St. in average (.401), slugging percentage (.822), home runs (15) and RBI (62), however he may not be available this weekend as he battles an injury.
Come on out to Jackie Robinson Stadium this weekend and watch as our Bruins try to pick up a series win that will put them on track for the regionals. Friday's game is a 6 pm PST, Saturday's is at 4 pm PST and Sunday's is at 1 pm PST. Don't forget that Saturday's game is also nationally televisd on FSN. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for children and free for Wooden Club members. Arizona St. has one of the most boisterous fan groups in the country and they always bring a large contingent to Westwood. Please come out to the games this weekend and help give our Bruins a legitimate home field advantage. If you can't make it out to the game, you can listen to it or follow it on GameTracker via the official site.