The UCLA Bruin baseball team lost a tough series opener to Southern Cal last night. The loss was tough in multiple ways--it's Southern Cal; UCLA couldn't win when it had a rare show of power, with Kort Peterson and Christoph Bono both slugging home runs; the Trogans won in our house; and, most importantly, the loss pushes UCLA to the brink of almost having to win out to have a sniff at the NCAA tournament.
Last night, UCLA struck first in the bottom of the 2nd inning on Bono's two out, solo shot to right field. UCLA would not score again until the 9th inning, and the Trojan's kept chipping away at UCLA starter Griffin Canning, who took the loss.
The Trogans plated solo runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings, to take a 3-1 lead. Southern Cal then pushed across two more runs in the 7th, to increase the lead to 5-1. UCLA halved the four run lead in the bottom of the 9th on Kort Peterson's no out, two run home run to right field. Down two and with no outs, the Bruins could do no more, after Southern Cal relieved starter Joe Navilhon with Marh Hulberman. Navilhon earned the win, Hulberman the save.
The loss further jeopardizes UCLA's hopes to play in the postseason.
The Bruins are 23-24 (10-12 PAC 12), and it is generally thought that thirty wins puts UCLA into postseason consideration, but by no means guarantees anything. Every win over that would make UCLA's chances greater.
Well, even if UCLA was to win out, that would only put their record at 32-24, which (combined with the Bruins finishing hot) would probably get UCLA into the field of 64. One loss, 31-25, is a tougher call. Two more losses (30-26) is consideration, nothing more. If those losses are to PAC 12 teams, UCLA might have too many teams to climb to get into the top five in the PAC 12. Most projections have five PAC 12 teams going to the pstseason.
And this is a team that has been wrought with inconsistency all season. In the Bruins' best stretch of the season, they went 8-2, so the UCLA would need to match their best of 2016 to have a shot. Can this team do it?
Tonight, Grant Dyer will take the hill for the Bruins. Knocked off track of being UCLA's Friday starter early in the season due to injury, Dyer put in a crucial, complete game gem last week at UC Irvine. Can he do the same two weeks in a row? Dyer might be hitting his stride, which could be big for the Bruins. UCLA will need to get their bats going though, and UCLA cannot afford to try to rely on the long ball again tonight.
First pitch is at 7 p.m. PT at Jackie Robinson Stadium. If you are at the game, we would love to hear from you in the comment section!
If you aren't at the game, you can follow it live on the PAC 12 Network. If you'd rather listen to the UCLA-centric call, follow John Ramey and Tom Wilhelm from UCLA's online audio stream. You can also check the online live stats.
Although this is not technically a do-or-die game for UCLA, the Bruins need to go all out to try to get a win in this one. A series loss to Southern Cal might put a lid on the Bruins' postseason chances.
This is your UCLA v. Southern Cal Game Two open thread.