So far, it's a pretty familiar story. The Bruins hit the road for a three-game set and take the opening game behind the strong pitching of James Kaprielian. But, that's where the good times have ended for UCLA fans, with the Bruins having dropped the second and third game in three straight weekends. Tonight, Coach John Savage's squad will look to turn that around and clinch the road series against the woeful Utes this afternoon. Considering UCLA is the defending national champs and taking on a team that is 11-22, this shouldn't be that hard.
Yesterday afternoon, the Bruins barely managed to pick up the win, needing a two run homer from freshman pitcher Nick Kern in the top of the ninth to get UCLA the close 3-1 victory. Kaprielian (6.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 4 H, 5 BB) once again put together a very solid night, surrendering just one run to the Utes through six and two-thirds innings, but the anemic UCLA offense was unable to touch Utah's Dalton Carroll, who had a 5.40 ERA entering tonight's contest. Fortunately for UCLA, Nick Kern was a one-man winning machine, dropping a two-run bomb in the top of the ninth to give UCLA a 3-1 lead, and then coming in and shutting Utah down in a scoreless bottom of the ninth (notching two Ks in the process) to earn his first save on the year. Pac-12 Network had a post-game interview with the hero of the game (also available through the official site here):
Turning to tonight's game, it's Friday night, but unlike most weekends, this will be the second game in the series, so instead of seeing our normal Friday night starter, we're getting usual Saturday starter Grant Watson (4-4, 3.02 ERA), who will square off against junior right-hander Mitch Watrous (1-3, 3.57 ERA), who UCLA should be able to do some damage on (assuming they remember to bring their bats and don't rely on pitchers to bail them out at the plate). Watson will need to come through with a solid game if the Bruins are going to end their three-weekend skid of dropping games he's started.
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. Once again. 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 we-need-to-finally-win-a-weekend-road-series Friday afternoon baseball open thread. Fire away in the comment thread with your comments, takes, or what you see as you're watching, listening, or tracking the Bruins in Salt Lake City on this awesome Southern California Friday.