The UCLA Bruin baseball team (12-13) has hit one of its roughest patches in recent memory. The Bruins were convincingly swept last weekend at Cal (albeit by a very, very good baseball team). Before that, they were punished in their fourth midweek loss out of four games, losing at home to Fullerton, 14-7. Before that, they lost in the bottom of 9th inning on an Arizona five run rally. We knew that the Cal and Arizona road trips were going to be tough. But it is hard to shake that losing feeling for the team and its fans right now.
A reason for optimism is that UCLA plays its next five games in the friendly confines of Jackie Robinson Stadium, where UCLA is 8-5. The homestand consists of tonight's opponent, the Cal State Northridge Matadors; a three game set with Stanford this weekend; and Loyola Marymount next Tuesday. It could be a pivotal five games for the 2016 iteration of UCLA baseball.
Can the Bruins turn their fortunes around? If it is going to start tonight, the Bruins will have to get better pitching in the midweek game. UCLA has been scoring plenty in those games, pushing across 26 runs in four games, averaging 6.5 runs per game. For UCLA teams of the past under Head Coach John Savage, that would have plenty of support for the Bruin pitching staff. That has not been the case in midweek games this season, however, where teams have scored an incredible 55 runs in four games, an average of 13.75 runs per game. Wow.
And Northridge scored 20 of those runs back on March 8th in a 20-12 loss at Northridge.
Northridge (20-8) is riding a losing streak of its own, however, having dropped four straight, including being victimized in a road sweep last weekend at the hands of Cal State Fullerton. Both the Bruins and the Matadors will no doubt be hungry for a win tonight.
Jake Bird (1-2, 5.66 ERA) gets the start for the Bruins. Bird was roughed up in the first start of his career last week, giving up seven runs (6 earned) in 1 and 1/3 inning. Bird walked three and hit two batters in his starting debut. Ouch. Hopefully those jitters will be gone tonight and we'll get a better outing from Jake.
Northridge will counter with Andrew Weston (4-3, 3.90 ERA). Weston started against UCLA last month, but only threw two innings, both scoreless, after the Matadors got out to a 7-0 lead in the 1st inning.
Which team will get a much needed win? History says UCLA but UCLA's RECENT history in midweek games sharply calls this into question.
No TV tonight but John Ramey and Tim Wilmelm give you live streaming audio and you can also follow the live stats.
This is your UCLA v. Cal State Northridge game thread.