Now that the UCLA men’s basketball season is over, it is time to shift our focus over the excellent UCLA baseball team, which has the horses to make it to Omaha, and arguably has the best chance to bring home championship number 113. But the team is not thinking about that (we can dream though, can’t we?); they are thinking about today’s game at Wazzu.
The UCLA Bruin baseball team took game one of a three game series last night in Pullman, winning by a score of 4-3. UCLA is now 19-5, winners of 6 straight, while WSU drops to 12-12. In PAC 12 play, UCLA remains in a first place tie with the Cal Golden Bears, who crushed Utah last night. The Bruins and Bears sport identical 6-1 records. A PAC 12 Conference championship likely means a national seed, so it is critical that the Bruins continue to bank wins against the non-elite teams in the conference (WSU is 1-6 in PAC 12 play, in 11th place).
UCLA ace, James Kaprielian, had a perfect game through 4 and 2/3 innings, but surrendered two runs with two outs in that inning, and another run in the 8th inning. Kaprielian, however, was good enough for the win, running his record to 6-1 and striking out 9. Dave Berg pitched a perfect 9th inning for his 5th save, recording two swinging strikeouts. Berg now has an incredible 147 appearances in his UCLA career. There were three close plays at the plate last night, all of which resulted in runs, two for Wazzu and one for UCLA.
UCLA got men on base yesterday, but, by and large, could not cash them in. The Bruins stranded 15 runners on base, which is usually a recipe for disaster. Winning a game under such circumstances shows what a strong UCLA team this is. A lesser team would have probably taken the loss. Chris Keck (3-4 with an RBI) and Kevin Kramer (2-5 with a run scored) continue to hit well for UCLA.
Today pitching match-up should be very interesting. Both teams start senior left-handers with identical 3-2 records. For UCLA, it is Grant Watson (pictured above), with an ERA of 1.80. For the Cougars, it is Joe Pistorese, with an ERA of 2.62. UCLA’s bullpen is the fresher of the two, as Kaprielian threw 8 innings yesterday and Berg only threw 13 pitches to record the save. Wazzu, on the other hand, went five deep into their bullpen, although three of those five threw less than 10 pitches.
The weather is supposed to be cold in The Palouse today, with a high of 55 degrees and winds in the 30 mile per hour range coming from the WSW, so there will be a significant wind chill factor, making feel like it is in the mid-40s. That should make things interesting, as Bailey-Brayton Field is situated with home plate on the south end of the diamond (thank you, Google Earth), meaning the wind will be blowing out to right field. First pitch is at 2:00 p.m. PT.
There is no TV coverage, but you can follow the game online via live stream and/or you can listen to John Ramey call the game. Personally, I mute WSU announcer on the stream and listen to Ramey. There is a few second delay between the audio and video, but I'd rather listen to Ramey.
This is your UCLA vs. Washington State baseball open thread.