The Bruins will head down to Long Beach this evening to kick off a freeway series in big need of some momentum to get their season in gear, following a deflating weekend series loss to Arizona State last weekend, which caused UCLA to fall out of a first-place tie with Washington into a three-way tie for second with both Oregon schools. The Bruins did get themselves off the mat on Tuesday, dropping Loyola Marymount 5-3, and will look to build a new winning streak tonight behind the arm of James Kaprielian (4-3, 2.98 ERA), the Bruins' top ace.
The Bruins enter tonight's game at 17-10 and will face off against a Long Beach State squad that has struggled for consistency, with an overall record of 13-14. While consistency hasn't been their friend, Long Beach State isn't a roll-over opponent, with the Bruins having barely scrapped out a win in their only other meeting this year, winning 2-1 at Jackie Robinson Stadium on March 25.
While Kaprielian will take his usual Friday night starting spot, Long Beach State will send out their former Saturday starter, right-handed sophomore Andrew Rohrbach (4-1, 2.27 ERA), who has led the Dirtbags to a pretty strong 5-2 record when he starts, so UCLA will need to bring their hitting out tonight to get Kaprielian his fifth win of the year, with the most likely candidate to come up big being clutch-hitting OF Christoph Bono, who had a solid 2-4 night with a run and RBI on Tuesday against LMU.
In case you missed it, islandbruin2 has a series preview available here, and you can check out the official series preview here. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST at Long Beach State's Blair Field. If you're unable to make it down to Long Beach tonight, you can listen in live to the audio broadcast, being called by John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm. Or if you can't listen in, you can track the game live on the official website's Gametracker (but be warned: it'll probably stop working around the fifth or sixth inning).
This is your series opener Friday night 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.