Bumped. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.
After a strong performance last night, the Bruins go for the series-clinching win this evening against Arizona.
UCLA is now 19-13, 7-3 in conference play. Arizona is 15-20, 4-9 in conference play.
Grant Watson will start on the mound for the Bruins. Watson is 4-3 with a 2.91 ERA. In his last two starts he has given up runs early, which have led to two consecutive losses for UCLA on Saturday. This is a streak which needs to be broken, and now. The opposing pitcher will be Cody Hamlin, who has the lowest ERA of the weekend starters for the Wildcats. Watson will need to avoid trouble early, and hope that the offense can replicate last night's onslaught.
Game time is 7:30. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU. The announcers are Clay Matvick, fresh off his stellar work in the Minnesota Boys Hockey Tournament (at least according to Wikipedia) and ex-Trogan and major league bounce-around'er Randy Flores.
You may want to follow Fox's lead and turn down the volume. As a good alternative, John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will be calling the action on the UCLA audio network. Another option is the live stat feed, courtesy of Arizona.
A series preview, covering the entire weekend series, can be found here.
One final note relating to the telecast. Last night's game (and tomorrow afternoon's) was on the Pac-12 network, with Eric Byrnes providing the commentary. I am not a big fan of in-game interviews with coaches, but the exchange between Byrnes and Coach Savage was very interesting. In particular, there was a discussion of recruiting pitchers out of high school, and what pitchers gain by coming to UCLA for 3 years, versus turning pro.
This topic is unfortunately very relevant for the next recruiting class. At the top of the incoming class which was signed by Coach Savage is left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken. Aiken was considered the #9 prospect for the 2014 MLB draft when he signed with the Bruins. But he has been lights out this spring, with a fastball now up to 90-94 MPH, and an improved breaking ball. As a result, Baseball America now considers him to be the #1 prospect in the upcoming draft.
The career path of Gerrit Cole is obviously a huge selling point for UCLA baseball, and the points which Coach Savage made last night with Eric Byrnes about the impact of teaching/coaching will hopefully resonate. But the #1 pick (going to the Astros) has an assigned slot value in 2014 of $7.9 million. That has to be pretty tempting.
Time will tell. In the meantime, it is time for some Saturday night baseball. Let's put the hammer down again. Fire away with your comments as the game unfolds.