Our Bruins are once again on the road for a weekend series, this time rolling out to Salt Lake City to take on the woefully struggling Utah Utes in what should (at least on paper) be an easy three game sweep for UCLA. It's precisely what the doctor ordered for John Savage's struggling baseball team, which has opened the last three weekend sets with a Friday night win, followed by disappointing Saturday and Sunday losses. The Bruins come into this weekend with a mediocre 19-15 record overall (just 7-5 in conference play, good for a tie with Oregon for fourth), while the Utes are a sad 11-21 overall. So, on paper, there's really no excuse why UCLA shouldn't return to Westwood with a clean three-game series sweep over a bad Utah squad.
It's a Thursday through Saturday series, which means UCLA will send out regular Friday night starter today, sophomore right-hander James Kaprielian (5-3, 2.20 ERA) to face off against Utah's fellow sophomore right-hander Dalton Carroll (1-3, 5.40 ERA). If the Bruins can't get Kaprielian his sixth win facing a pitcher with an ERA above 5.00, then that's pretty sad. Carroll has been usually the mid-week starter for Utah, so this might be a case of the Utes saving their best arm for Saturday in the hope they can keep the Bruins on their backs on Saturday and Sunday as every other opponent has of late.
In case you missed it, one of our newest members of the BN front-page crew, islandbruin2, has put together his usual excellent series preview, which you can check out for some more background information on the series between UCLA and Utah. First pitch is scheduled in Salt Lake City for 4 p.m. PST and will be aired live on the Pac-12 Network with Roxy Bernstein and Kevin Stocker on the call. If you can't tune in live (read: DirecTV customers), then you can listen in live to the audio broadcast, being called by John Ramey. Or if video and audio are just not your thing, you can track the game live on the official website's Gametracker.
This is your series opener Thursday night must-win game thread, so fire away in the comment thread with your comments, takes, or what you see as you're watching, tracking, or listening in to the game.