The UCLA Bruin Baseball team (14-15, 7-5 PAC 12) travels to Palo Alto for a Thursday to Saturday series against the Stanford Cardinal (18-10, 4-5 PAC 12). The Bruins are tied for 3rd in conference while the Cardinal is 7th, although Stanford has a much better overall record. and is ranked in the top 20 by most college baseball ranking services.
UCLA is coming off a big, come-from-behind win on Sunday to avoid a series sweep at home against the Washington Huskies. The Bruins were down, 5-3, going into the Bottom of the 8th inning, when UCLA pushed one run across on a Brett Stephens sacrifice fly, scoring Ryan Kreidler to cut the lead to 5-4.
Then, in the Bottom of the 9th, Sean Bouchard singled, and Kyle Cuellar doubled, bringing the winning run to second base. An intentional walk loaded the bases for freshman, Jack Stronach, who singled to tie the game. Pinch hitter, Zander Clarke, bought home the winning run in walk off fashion with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Now UCLA heads north to the Sunken Diamond at Stanford. The Cardinal have won three straight, taking the second two games against Southern Cal in Los Angeles, to win that series on the road, and pounding San Jose State, 9-3 on Tuesday. Although Stanford’s conference record is not great, part of that is because they have already played, and were swept by, the #1 ranked Oregon State Beavers.
Offensively, Stanford is very similar to UCLA. The Cardinal are hitting .267 (to UCLA’s .263) The difference is that there is more consistency through the lineup with Stanford, whereas UCLA has disparity between its top hitting regulars (Cuellar is hitting .422, sixth best in the nation) and its lesser hitting regulars (five UCLA regulars are hitting .240 or below). On the other hand, seven of Stanford’s regulars are hitting between .306 and .268.
Where Stanford appears to have the advantage over UCLA is in its pitching. With a team ERA of 3.30, Stanford is #33 in the country, and tied for third (with Washington) in the PAC 12. UCLA, conversely, has a pedestrian 4.03 team ERA.
Stanford will send a troika of left handers to the mound this weekend. All three Stanford starting pitchers this series are southpaws. Tonight, the Bruins will face sophomore, Kris Bubic (2-5, 4.08 ERA).
Now that the season is beyond the midpoint, the Bruins need to start winning more games to put themselves in a position for post-season play. Unfortunately, the schedule only gets tougher, with the Bruins hosting #1 Oregon State next weekend.
While the Bruin starters began the season well and the bullpen struggled, of late the roles have been reversed. Friday starter, Griffin Canning, took the loss in a rough outing last week,. Starter, Moises Ceja, took the loss on Saturday. On Sunday, Jon Olson was roughed up and was slated to take the loss until UCLA’s late inning heroics.
All three starters must do a better job starting this weekend. The UCLA bullpen did great on Sunday, throwing 5.1 innings of three hit, no run baseball.
Griffin Canning (2-2. 3.25 ERA) will take the hill for UCLA. Canning was roughed up last week against Washington and his ERA has slowly and steadily risen--remember, he was 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA after three starts. Hopefully, Canning will bounce back tonight with a solid outing in Palo Alto.
The following are the anticipated pitching match-ups for the series:
Thursday, April 13th, 6 p.m. PT
Stanford -Kris Bubic, LHP, So. (2-5, 4.08 ERA)
UCLA - Griffin Canning, RHP, Jr. (2-2. 3.25 ERA)
Friday, April 14th, 7 p.m. PT
Stanford -Andrew Summerville, LHP, Jr. (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
UCLA - Moises Ceja, RHP, Sr. (1-2, 2.68 ERA)
Saturday, April 15th, 4 p.m. PT
Stanford -Chris Castellanos, LHP, Sr. (5-1, 2.31 ERA)
UCLA -Jon Olson, RHP, So. (2-1, 4.58 ERA)
The entire series will be televised on the PAC 12 Networks! Woohoo! UCLA stalwarts Jon Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call for UCLA via online streaming audio. Finally, you can follow the games, including tonight’s game, via live stats.
I would love to predict a series win for the Bruins but, alas, I think that they will drop two of three in Palo Alto. I would love to eat crow and for UCLA to even its record or, heaven forbid, somehow manage a series sweep. Time will tell.
This is your UCLA Bruin Baseball versus Stanford Cardinal game one open thread. Fire away with comments and, as always, . . . GO BRUINS!!