UCLA Baseball: Another Conference Series Loss at Home

USA TODAY Sports

UCLA Baseball is in a real skid as the Bruins head into what was expected to be the toughest part of the schedule. But when you lose five of six at home in conference to supposedly easier teams, any part of the schedule is tough. This time Stanford was the team fortunate enough to catch UCLA at a down point in the season, as the Cardinal took two of three. It will take a miracle now for the Bruins to advance to the postseason.

UCLA Baseball fell below .500 in conference play (10 wins, 11 losses), as the result of dropping another series at home, this time to the below .500 Stanford Cardinal. This is the first time that UCLA has been below .500 in conference play since May 2, 2010. After a loss to Arizona State on that date, the Bruins were 7-8. That 2010 team then reeled off 11 wins in 12 games, to close the conference season 18-9, en route to the national championship finals in Omaha.

But that was clearly a different team, anchored by two future 1st round draft choices in Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. This year, the Bruins have been unable to put together any lengthy winning streak in conference play.

This was the 7th weekend of conference play in the 2014 season for UCLA. In four of those seven weekends, the Bruins have won on Friday and lost on Saturday. And in the rubber match on Sunday, UCLA has come up short three times in four tries. This is a championship caliber team on Friday, but not on Saturday or Sunday.

To show how frustrating this weekend was, here is the series in a nutshell. On Friday night, the Bruins led 6-1 after one inning. The series continued for 26 more innings. And in those 26 innings, the Bruins were outscored 11-3. Scoring three runs in 26 innings is not conducive to success. And giving up five runs on Saturday and five runs on Sunday is also definitely not conducive to success.

To bask in the glory for a brief moment, here is the box score for Friday's win. James Kaprielian had his usual lights-out start, with the following stat line (6.2 inn, 1 R, 5 H, 10 K). The Bruins sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning, with the big blows being struck by Luke Persico with a two run triple and Trent Chatterton with an RBI double.

All was right with the world, and I booked a nonrefundable (damn!) plane ticket to Omaha (fortunately, just kidding).

On Saturday night, the Bruin bats went into a deep freeze, and UCLA lost 5-0. If you click the following link, you will be taken to the UCLA website for the box score. As you can see by clicking, Morgan Center has a blank page where the box score should be. I don't know which is worse- the incompetence of Morgan Center in not being able to display a box score or the incompetence of Morgan Center in forcing the Bruins to embarrass themselves by wearing beer league softball uniforms. The Bruin baseball team may be below .500 for the first time since 2010, but Morgan Center has been below .500 for at least as long as Doughnut brought in a baker's dozen for his first staff meeting in 2002. If you do want to see the box score, here it is, courtesy of Stanford, which has a competent athletic department. Grant Watson's stat line was as follows- 7 inn, 4 R, 8 H, 3 K. Not his best effort of the season, to be sure, and clearly no match for Stanford's starter, John Hochstatter, who pitched a complete game shutout.

So, it all came down to Sunday to decide the series winner. And for the third straight home conference series, with the series tied 1-1, the Bruins came up short in game three. The last time UCLA won a deciding game three was the opening series of the conference season, back in March against Washington State. In yesterday's game, the Bruins fell behind 3-0 after four innings, and that was basically the ball game. Cody Poteet took the loss despite a decent stat line (6 inn, 3 R, 7 H, 2 K). Here is the box score.

In Saturday night's telecast, the announcers opined that the tournament selection committee focuses on RPI, conference record, road record, and last 15 games. The Bruins had an RPI of 106 before the Stanford series, so that doesn't look good. The conference record at 10-11 doesn't look good. The road record, at 9-5-1, including a three game sweep in North Carolina, actually looks fine. And the last 15 games includes the Santa Barbara game earlier this week through the end of the season. The last 15 games will include a record of 1-2-1 plus whatever happens the rest of the way. Fortunately, the Bruins still control their own destiny, with road series against #2 Oregon State and #7 Washington, and a home series against previously #19 ranked Oregon. The RPI should improve dramatically with these series. The conference record would improve with wins in these series, as would the road record and the record over the last 15 games.

But this is all clearly hypothetical at the moment. The Bruins need to come through with clutch hits and get as many shutdown innings as possible from the pitching staff. Every game starts 0-0 in the top of the 1st, but we could sure use some more 6-spots ( or even some 2 or 3-spots).

Next up for the Bruins is a Tuesday night game at home against fellow disappointment, Cal State Fullerton. The Titans are 23-20, 7-8 in conference play. Then the Bruins head north to Corvallis for Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon series against Oregon State.

Time to turn this around, right now. Go Bruins !!

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