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UCLA Baseball: Preview for the Last Home Series of the 2014 Season, Bruins Take on Ducks

UCLA Baseball must win five of its last six games to avoid a losing season. This weekend marks the end of the home season for UCLA, as there is zero chance that there will be any games at Jackie Robinson Stadium after the regular season ends. The Bruins host the Oregon Ducks, who are looking to make a statement for the NCAA seeding committee. UCLA is now reduced to playing the spoiler.

James Kaprielian leads the Bruins against the Ducks
James Kaprielian leads the Bruins against the Ducks

UCLA Baseball limps towards the conclusion of an absolutely forgettable season, with three games this weekend against Oregon. UCLA is 23-26-1, 10-14 in Pac-12 play ("good" for 8th place). The Bruins have lost seven straight, as the wheels have come off a once-promising season  (we definitely need to beware the ides of May much more than the ides of March). The injury woes of the Bruins have been well chronicled, particularly on offense, although the on and off status of closer David Berg has also been huge in recent weeks.

Oregon is 36-16, 14-10 in Pac-12 play (good for a tie for 3rd).  Oregon is considered a safe team (i.e. not on the bubble) for the field of 64, whereas UCLA is clearly on the outside, not even looking in. Oregon's starting rotation has been decimated by injuries, but other pitchers have stepped up to pick up the slack. Oregon has won six of their last nine, so they are clearly on a different season-ending path than the Bruins.

Friday night at 7pm, James Kaprielian (6-5, 2.63, .205 batting average against) faces Tommy Thorpe (8-4, 2.40, .221 batting average against). Both teams are playing their ninth conference series. And both teams are 5-3 in Friday night games. Considering that the Bruins are 5-11 in Saturday and Sunday games, this shows how solid Kaprielian has been without a lot of support. For the Bruins to have any reasonable chance of winning this series, Kaprielian will have to carry the day on Friday.

Saturday night at 7pm, Grant Watson (4-8, 3.75, .266 batting average against) faces Jeff Gold (9-1, 3.06, .237 batting average against). The Saturday conference games have not gone well for UCLA this year, as the Bruins are only 2-6 in their eight contests to date. Oregon is 4-4 in Saturday games. UCLA has not win on Friday and Saturday back-to-back since the opening conference series at Cal. This matchup looks tough on paper. Fortunately, every game begins 0-0, but Watson will have to avoid the big inning if the Bruins are to have a chance.

Sunday at noon, Cody Poteet (3-4, 3.95, .265 batting average against) faces Brando Tessar (4-1, 2.81, .278 batting average against). UCLA has fared better on Sunday than on Saturday. The Bruins are 3-5, and would be 4-4 except for the epic 9th inning bullpen meltdown recently at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Oregon is 5-3 in Sunday games. This should be the highest scoring game of the weekend, and if Poteet can put together a strong outing, the Bruins have a good chance to take game three (and hopefully the series, or even better, the sweep).

All three games will be televised on Pac-12 networks. Come out to Jackie Robinson Stadium if you have a chance. This season, too, shall pass, but this is the last opportunity to see some solid performers in the UCLA home whites (or in the UCLA home beer softball uniforms, depending on how little care Morgan Center is devoting to UCLA's image).

Go Bruins !!