The Bruins enter tonight's contest at 5-1 in Pac-12 play, in the middle of a three-way tie for first place at the top of the conference with Oregon and Washington. But UCLA has the best chance of taking sole possession of first this weekend, with both the Ducks (at Stanford) and the Huskies (at Southern Cal) facing tricky road trips, while UCLA gets to host the Sun Devils this weekend. The Bruins are riding a hot streak, having won the past three in a row (and eight out of the last nine), a pair of weekend wins against Washington State, followed by a close 2-1 win over Long Beach State on Tuesday, and will look to make it four on the trot.
The Bruins are 15-8 on the year, but 5-1 in conference play, while Arizona State is just 13-10 overall and 3-3 in conference play, so UCLA is the odds-on favorite to come out with a series win, although that's what folks said before last weekend; Arizona State went to Corvallis and took two out of three from Oregon State (19-5 overall, 4-2 in conference play), so the Sun Devils know how to hit the road and come away with a big conference scalp.
UCLA will send sophomore ace James Kaprielian (3-3, 2.97 ERA, 39.1 IP, 42 K, 10 BB) to the mound against Arizona State's sophomore southpaw Brett Lilek (3-1, 1.65 ERA, 32.3 IP, 34 K, 13 BB). Lilek has been the Sun Devils' best arm so far, being moved up from his usual Sunday rotation spot to taking the ball on Friday, but UCLA will look to generate some offense through the increasingly hot bat of catcher Shane Zeile (.393, 1 HR, 14 RBI).
In case you missed it, islandbruin2 has a series preview, so check that out. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST at Jackie Robinson Stadium. If you're unable to make it to Jackie Robinson Stadium this evening, you can listen in online, with John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm making the call. Or you can track it through the official website's Gametracker.
This is your series opener open thread, so fire away in the comment thread if you're watching, tracking, or listening in to the game.