The UCLA Bruin baseball team (15-18), coming off another disappointing series loss, this time to the Washington Huskies, faces the Pepperdine Waves (18-16) in Malibu this afternoon. First pitch is at 3 p.m.
The Bruins' inconsistency in the Washington series was a microcosm of their season. UCLA won Friday, 1-0, on the strength of Griffin Canning's masterful performance, which earned him PAC 12 Pitcher of the Week honors. On Saturday, they wasted a 6-1 lead, falling to the Huskies 8-7. Neither Grant Dyer nor the bullpen was able to get the job done. On Sunday, UCLA's 2-0 lead and Kevin Molnar's excellent first two innings were wiped away by a 4th inning grand slam. UCLA went on to lose, 7-4, with the 'pen giving up one run in the 7th inning and one run in the 8th inning.
UCLA needs to start winning its midweek games and winning series, because the season is slipping away quickly. UCLA only has 23 more regular season games to make a push for the postseason.
Pepperdine has been playing a bit better than UCLA. In their last eight games, they have gone 5-3, splitting two midweek games with Southern Cal, and winning two series against Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount, respectively.
In a curious move, Head Coach John Savage will start freshman right hander, Jon Olsen (0-0, 5.68 ERA) on the mound. Olsen has only pitched 6 and 1/3 innings this season. In the revolving door of midweek starters, this will be Olsen's first start of his UCLA career.
At least UCLA was able to snap its winless streak in midweek games with a win over Loyola Marymount last week. A win over Pepperdine and a series win over Oregon at home this weekend might be the medicine the Bruins need to start getting their season back on track.
Pepperdine will send Easton Lucas (2-4, 6.23 ERA), a freshman left hander, to the hill against UCLA. Although Lucas' numbers are not great, he is left handed, and lefties have, for the most part, stymied UCLA's left handed heavy line up this season. If the Waves get into a save situation, expect to see Ryan Wilson, who has a 0.95 ERA and four saves.
Pepperdine is hitting .253 as a team this season, which is modest, but still .014 better than UCLA batters, who are collectively hitting .239 on the year. The Waves have lots of power, with 32 home runs in 34 games (UCLA by comparison, has seven dingers in 33 games).
Watch out for shortstop, Manny Jefferson who is hitting .310 with nine home runs (more than the entire UCLA team), and 28 RBI. Jefferson's slugging percentage is a brawny .597. First baseman Brad Anderson also has a lot of pop, hitting .270 with seven home runs, 24 RBI, and a slugging percentage of .516. Outfielder Matt Kafner leads the Waves in batting average, at .331.
First pitch is at 3 p.m. PT. The game is not televised, but it appears that there will be a live video stream of the game courtesy of the West Coast Conference. As usual, John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call via audio stream. There will also be live stats through CBS Gametracker.
Can the Bruins get it done? Hang with BN this afternoon to find out.
This is your UCLA Bruins v. Pepperdine Waves baseball midweek game thread.