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The Golden Bears Come to Town for a Series Against the Bruins

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The Bruins will honor Jackie Robinson tonight with throwback uniforms.

UCLA's ace, James Kaprielian
UCLA's ace, James Kaprielian
@UCLABaseball

Tonight, the UCLA Bruins baseball team begins a three-game series against the California Golden Bears. Although this is an important game and an important series, tonight’s game is also a commemoration and a celebration of Jackie Robinson Day, which occurred yesterday, marking the sixty-eighth anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. UCLA will wear special throwback uniforms and cleats to honor Jackie Robinson tonight. It should be a very special evening. If you are able to do so, you should come out to Jackie Robinson Stadium to soak it all in.

THE BACKGROUND

Ucla

UCLA (26-7; 12-3 in PAC 12) is ranked in the top 3 in all the college baseball ranking services (one service has the Bruins at #2). The Bruins are in sole possession of first place in the PAC 12, with Arizona State one game back. UCLA is coming off an impressive series win against its arch-rivals, Southern Cal, last weekend and a solid mid-week victory over traditional powerhouse, Cal State Fullerton.

California

The Golden Bears (22-11; 9-6 PAC 12) started the season off hot, winning 15 of their first 18 games, and were ranked in all of the college baseball ranking services. Since that time, Cal is gone 7-8, including series losses to Washington State and Stanford in Berkeley. Cal sits in fourth place in the PAC 12 standings.

THE TEAMS

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The top of the Bruins order continues to produce, and the bottom of the Bruins order has been hitting better of late. In the Southern Cal series, the bottom 4 of the order hit .333, and hit .307 against CSUF in the mid-week game. As a team, the Bruins are hitting .289 this season, .300 in conference play, and get on base over 38% of the time. Ty Moore has raised his average to .379 (best on the team), with three home runs and a team-leading 34 RBI.

Both the Bruins starting pitchers and their bullpen continue to be stellar. Tonight, the Bruins will send their normal Friday starter, ace James Kaprielian, to the hill, seeking his eighth win of the season. Head Coach, John Savage, will look to get at least six quality innings out of Kap, so he can turn the ball over to the combination of Tucker Forbes in the seventh, Grant Dyer in the eight, and Dave Berg in the ninth.

California

The Golden Bears’ starting pitching staff is very solid, comparable to the Bruins in ERA. The Bears will start Daulton Jefferies, who will be replacing freshman, Jeff Bain, California’s typical Friday starter. The Bears also have a good bullpen, led by Eric Martinez (1-1, 1.83 ERA). Four different Golden Bears have recorded saves for Cal this season, so it is not clear to whom Head Coach, David Esquer, would turn in a save situation.  Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

On offense, the Bears have four batters hitting over .300, Chris Paul (.353, 7 HR, 28 RBI), Aaron Knapp (.341, 0 HR, 14 RBI), Lucas Erceg (.341, 8 HR, 29 RBI), and Brett Cumberland (.308, 6 HR, 26 RBI). Cal has a lot of pop in their bats, having hit 33 home runs in 33 games this season. Hopefully the damp Pacific air will reduce those potential dingers to routine fly balls in this series.

THE DETAILS

This is another Thursday to Saturday series. If you can, come out to the ballpark for a game or two. Friday’s game is an early, 4:00 p.m. start. For those of us out-of-towners, the entire series will be televised on the PAC 12 Network. If you cannot come out to JRS or watch on TV, you can follow James Ramey and Tim Wilhelm via online audio stream or you can follow via live game stats. The following are the dates, times, and expected starters for the series:

Thursday, April 16, 7:00 p.m. PT

CAL - Daulton Jefferies, RHP, So. (3-2, 2.20 ERA)

UCLA- James Kaprielian, RHP. Jr. (7-2; 2.18 ERA)

Friday, April 17, 4:00 p.m. PT

CAL - Ryan Mason, RHP, Jr. (4-1, 2.93 ERA)

UCLA- Grant Watson, LHP, Sr. (5-3; 2.24 ERA)

Saturday, April 18, 7:30 p.m. PT

CAL - Matt Ladrech, LHP, Fr. (5-4, 2.45 ERA)

UCLA- Griffin Canning, RHP, Fr. (6-1; 2.74 ERA)

FINAL THOUGHTS

To reach their goals this season, the Bruins need to maintain their solid play in this home series against Cal. My expectations for this series are the same as they were for the last home series in which the Bruins played Oregon State: a series win at home against a quality opponent. Anything more would be a bonus. Anything less would be disappointing, as UCLA has yet to lose a series this season. First pitch is tonight at 7 p.m. PT when Kap takes the mound for the Bruins.

This is your UCLA vs. Cal Game One open thread.

Fire away with your comments (especially if you are fortunate enough to make out to Jackie Robinson Stadium).

Goooooooo Bruins!!!!