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UCLA Baseball Faces ASU in Season's Final Home Series

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Almost certainly eliminated from the NCAA tournament, UCLA will look to play the role of spoiler, potentially damaging the Sun Devils' post-season chances.

UCLA could use a solid effort out of Griffin Canning tonight
UCLA could use a solid effort out of Griffin Canning tonight
@UCLABaseball

The UCLA Bruin baseball team (24-26, 11-13 PAC 12) closes out its home schedule this weekend with a visit from the Arizona State Sun Devils (31-18, 13-11 PAC 12). For all intents and purposes, UCLA is likely eliminated from post-season contention.

UCLA

The Bruins currently sit in a four-way tie for 7th place in the PAC 12, but UCLA has a worse overall record than any of the other three teams with whom they are tied, essentially putting the Bruins in 10th place in the PAC 12. With six games remaining (including a road trip to Oregon State next weekend), UCLA would need to win out to have a 30-24 record, which would give the committee something to think about, but would likely not be enough considering the Bruins total body of work this season. Frankly, I believe that it is a huge stretch to think that UCLA will win the remainder of its games, although I will root hard for them in each and every one of them.

It is also worth noting that four UCLA seniors, Christoph Bono, Brett Urabe, Trent Chatterton, and Eric Filia, will play their last home game in a UCLA uniform this Sunday. These are the last of the players who had a hand in the Bruins’ 2013 National Championship season. Although others who are returning next year were technically on the team in 2013, those players were redshirt freshman in 2013 and did not see action in 2013.

ARIZONA STATE

Unlike UCLA, Arizona State is moving in the right direction toward making the post-season. After losing five of their first six PAC 12 games, ASU has played pretty good baseball in conference, including winning their last four PAC 12 series and going 12-6 in their last 18 conference games. ASU sits in 4th place in the PAC 12, and most college baseball publications project them to make the field of 64.

Arizona State has a good team ERA (3.50) and is hitting .264 as a squad. Six of ASU regular starters are hitting .273 or higher.

First baseman, David Greer, has put up great numbers hitting out of the two hole, batting .335 (team leader), with 65 hits (team leader), 41 runs scored (team leader), 37 RBI (2nd on the team) and 6 home runs (3rd on the team). Greer gets on base 42% of the time and leads ASU in slugging percentage at .562. Memo to UCLA: look out for Greer!

Shortstop and number three hitter, Colby Woodmansee (.289, 7 HR, 39 RBI), has also put up big numbers this season. Although his average is not great, designated hitter Sebastian Zawada has eight home runs. In contrast, UCLA only has eleven home runs as a team on the season.

TONIGHT’S PITCHING MATCH-UP

Tonight’s game pits Arizona’s State’s ace, junior right hander, Seth Martinez, against sophomore righty, Griffin Canning (5-6, 3.41 ERA), who has some fantastic outings for UCLA this season, and some not-so-great outings. Canning has a no decision (a solid eight innings against UCI) and a loss (four earned runs in six innings against USC) in his last two starts.

Martinez has started 13 games for the Sun Devils, and is 8-3 in those games, with a scintillating 1.93 ERA. Because of Martinez, ASU will be a tough out tonight, but Canning has shown that, when he has his best stuff, he can duel with the best of them. Let’s hope that Canning is on his game tonight.

MATCH-UPS OVER THE WEEKEND

The following are the dates, times, and anticipated starting pitchers for the series:

Friday, May 20, 6:00 p.m.

ASU--Seth Martinez, RHP, Jr. (8-3, 1.93 ERA)

UCLA--Griffin Canning, RHP, So. (5-6, 3.41 ERA)

Saturday, May 21, 7:00 p.m.

ASU--Eli Lingos, LHP, So. (3-3, 3.59 ERA)

UCLA--Grant Dyer, RHP, Jr. (3-3, 4.95 ERA)

Sunday, May 23, 3:00 p.m.

ASU—TBA

UCLA—TBA

Of note is the fact that Kyle Molnar is not listed as UCLA’s Sunday starter, a position that he has locked down from the beginning of the season. It begs the question whether Molnar, who was hit hard by Southern Cal last Sunday, has suffered some sort of an injury. Tune in Sunday to find out.

MEDIA

Tonight’s game is not televised, but tomorrow’s game and Sunday’s game will both be shown on the PAC 12 Networks. You can follow the action in all three games via UCLA’s online streaming audio, with John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm calling the games. You can also follow the games via live statistics.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Unfortunately, UCLA is playing out the string. It would be nice if the Bruins could secure a series win for the seniors in their last games at home, but I think that Arizona State is motivated to keep its grasp on a post-season berth. Logic and reason tell me that the Sun Devils will win the series. This is baseball though, so anything is possible.

This is your UCLA vs. Arizona State baseball, Game One open thread. Fire away with your thoughts in the comment section.

Go Bruins!