The UCLA Bruin baseball team takes on Cal State Fullertson tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium at 6 p.m. PT. The Bruins (12-9, 4-2 PAC 12) have had a tough time in midweek games this season, going 0-3 against Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, and Cal State Northridge. UCLA has given up forty-one (!) runs in those three games, so Head Coach John Savage is going with a new starting pitcher tonight as sophomore right hander Jake Bird (1-1, 3.32 ERA) gets his first start in a UCLA uniform.
UCLA is coming off a brutal series loss to the Arizona Wildcats last weekend. After the teams split the first two games, the Bruins were up 5-1 going into the bottom of the 9th inning. UCLA could not hold on to the comfortable lead, as the 'Cats scored five runs off of Brian Gadsby and Scott Burke to claim the series. As a result, the Bruins have dropped out of the national rankings in all major polls and are tied for first in the PAC 12 with Cal, Washington, and Utah. Had the Bruins held on, they would have been in sole possession of first place in the PAC 12.
Cal State Fullerton
Cal State Fullerton (12-11) is not having a Cal State Fullerton type season. One game above .500, the Titans have lost five of their last six games, including a 2-1 loss to Southern Cal last week. Fullerton will continue a trend of starting left handed pitchers against the Bruins, sending sophomore John Gavin (1-1, 2.87 ERA) to the hill. The Bruins' left handed heavy line-up has not fared particularly well against left handed pitching this season. The Titans' team ERA is an excellent 2.21, so if Gavin has trouble tonight, there are ample arms in the bullpen upon which Head Coach Rick Vanderhook can rely.
The problem is that the Titans bats are more quiet that the Bruins' bats. Fullerton is hitting .233 on the season (UCLA is hitting .243). Senior outfielders Dalton Blaser and Tyler Stieb are both hitting over .300, but the rest of Fullerton's lineup has not been producing as well as in seasons past.
UCLA-Jake Bird, So. RHP (1-1, 3.32 ERA)
Fullerton-John Gavin, So. LHP (1-1, 2.87 ERA)
UCLA needs a win to get a bit of confidence back in midweek games as well as momentum going into a tough series at Berkeley this weekend. They need to shake off the soul-crushing loss from Sunday. Jake Bird has been pitching well out of the bullpen, but he has never started a game. Fullerton will also be looking to get a win going into Big West Conference play starting this weekend, so it is an important game for the Titans as well.
First pitch is at 6 p.m. PT. The game is not televised, but you can follow along via live audio stream with UCLA's stalwart announcers, John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm. You can also follow live statistics.
This is your UCLA v. Cal State Fullerton open thread.