The UCLA Bruins baseball team's erratic pitching staff received a stabilizing performance from sophomore right hander, Griffin Canning, last night. Canning delivered just what the doctor ordered, throwing 8 and 2/3 innings of one run, five hit ball. Canning struck out twelve, while only walking two. UCLA (4-5) beat Mississippi State, 2-1.
The Bruins needed every bit of it, as Canning's counterpart on the Bulldogs, Dakota Hudson, also pitched very well, giving up only one earned run and five hits in seven innings. Hudson took the hard luck loss.
UCLA got on the board in the second inning in classic UCLA small-ball style. Christoph Bono singled, advanced to second on a passed ball, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a well-executed safety squeeze by Trent Chatterton. The Bruins added an insurance run in the 5th, on a Brett Stephens single and a Kort Peterson double.
Mississippi State made the game a nail biter in the the 9th. Canning, looking for a complete game, recorded a foul out, walked a batter, and recorded a ground out, with the runner moving to second. With two outs, Ryan Gridley doubled for the Bulldogs, scoring the runner from second.
That was it for Canning as Head Coach John Savage brought in Tucker Forbes. The usually reliable right hander hit each of the two batters he faced, loading the bases. Exit Forbes; enter freshman Brian Gadsby. Gadsby struck out Luke Alexander swinging, in dramatic fashion, ending the game.
UCLA will face the Oklahoma Sooners today. Oklahoma lost to Southern Cal last night, 5-4, dropping their record to 4-6.
Both teams go into the game with questions marks at pitcher. For UCLA, with Grant Dyer's injury, UCLA can start its typical Sunday starter, Kyle Molnar (6.75 ERA), or one of the two Tuesday starters it has used, Hunter Virant (15.43 ERA) or Justin Hooper (18.00 ERA). As you can see from their ERA, none of those guys has pitched well. Maybe Coach Savage gives Scott Burke (3.27 ERA) the nod, who has pitched well out the bullpen in long relief this season.
In its first Saturday game, Oklahoma started Alec Hanson, who gave up three runs in one inning in a loss to Northeastern Last Saturday, in a loss to Sam Houston State, Austin Kerns gave up three runs in two innings. Hanson threw an inning of relief yesterday against Southern Cal. Does that mean we will see Kerns for the Sooners? Maybe someone else?
Oklahoma, like UCLA, has had its struggles from the plate this season. The Sooners are hitting .249, with only two starters hitting above .300, shortstop Sheldon Neuse (.343) and first baseman Jack Flansburg (.333). Can whomever UCLA sends to the mound continue to keep Oklahoma's bats quiet?
Originally scheduled for 6 p.m. PT, this game has been pushed back to 1 p.m. PT, due to concerns about rain later in the day.
This is your UCLA vs. Oklahoma baseball open thread.