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UCLA Starts Pac-12 Play Against Washington This Weekend

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A weekend sweep of the Huskies would go a long way towards the Bruins' goal of hosting one of this year's NCAA Super Regionals.

UCLA got back on track early on Tuesday with 4 runs in the first inning against Pepperdine in Malibu and got six scoreless innings from starter Griffin Canning. While the bullpen gave up 3 runs, they held the Waves in check enough to preserve the victory for the Bruins.

Kevin Kramer got things started with a single in the first. Following a Luke Persico walk, Ty Moore singled through the left side to score Kramer and then Chris Keck went yard for a 3-run home run, giving the Bruins a 4-0 lead before Canning even threw a pitch.

But, considering that Canning threw 41 pitches just two days before against Southern Cal, it was no lock that those runs would be enough. After Canning (3-1) had one of his best games of the season, that question was answered. He struck out nine and only gave up two hits while throwing 92 pitches to earn the victory.

Ultimately, Pepperdine just couldn't get enough runs across, leaving seven men on base including one in the eighth and two more in the ninth. David Berg picked up his second save of the season, despite a rocky ninth.

Pepperdine starter Kiko Garcia (0-2), who only lasted the first two innings, took the loss.

Tonight, UCLA opens conference play as they start a three-game weekend series home at Jackie Robinson Stadium against the Washington Huskies. James Kaprielian (3-1, 3.33 ERA) will start for the Bruins as he normally does on Fridays and freshman righty Noah Bremer (2-1, 1.21 ERA) takes the hill for the Huskies.

The Bruins have not lost a series to Washington since 2006 and, while there's little reason to think that will change, UCLA needs to take care of business because their conference schedule is tough and leaves little margin for error.

In order to be a super-regional host, the Bruins will likely need to finish either first or second in the conference. To do that, they will probably need to win 22 of their 30 conference games. To accomplish this, UCLA needs to sweep the weaker teams at home. While winning 2 of 3 wouldn't be awful, it would make the road to hosting a Super Regional a lot tougher due to the fact that the Pac-12 looks to be very strong this year with 4 teams currently in the Baseball America Top 25.

Of course, things could change. It's still early in the season, but breaking out the broom this weekend against the Huskies would be a great way to start Pac-12 play.

First pitch tonight is scheduled for 6pm. There's no TV this weekend, but, as always, you can listen live for free on UCLABruins.com where John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call. Saturday's game starts at 2pm and Sunday's game starts at 1pm. Tomorrow, look for our recap of tonight's game and our preview of game 2.

This is your Washington-UCLA open thread.

Go Bruins!