It is Rivalry Week for the UCLA Bruin Baseball Team! BEAT $C*! The Bruins and the Trojans begin a three game series at Southern Cal’s Dedeaux Field tonight at 6 p.m. PT. This is your UCLA versus Southern Cal series preview!
UCLA (21-20, 10-8 PAC 12) is coming off a brutal loss against San Diego State just two nights ago, in which the Bruin bullpen, yet again, was unable to hold a late inning lead. UCLA saw its 6-4 lead going into the 8th inning cut to 6-5 going into the 9th, and then closer Scott Burke imploded, giving up two home runs and three total runs, resulting in an 8-6 loss.
Equally, if not more concerning, was the offense, which was non-existent after the 4th inning. SDSU’s bullpen retired the last 16 UCLA hitters. This was not the first time we have seen UCLA’s hitters struggle to score runs in the late innings. Perhaps UCLA needs to change it approach at the plate in the latter half of the game.
The Bruins can still make the postseason if they take care of business down the stretch, with series at Southern Cal, at Wazzou, at home against Utah, and at Oregon. That’s the bottom of the PAC 12, with the exception of Oregon, which is in the middle of the pack. UCLA also has two non-conference games (at Fullerton and at UCI). That means that, of UCLA’s final 14 games, only three at are Jackie Robinson Stadium. So, the time for winning is NOW.
Although this is a rivalry series, Southern California (19-22, 6-12 PAC 12) is tied for last place in the PAC 12 right now, along with Arizona State and Washington State. Don’t be fooled into thinking that UCLA has the distinct advantage, though, as UCLA's overall record is very similar to the Trojans’ record.
Plus, in a non-conference game earlier this season, Southern Cal beat UCLA, 4-3, in ten innings. The Bruins led 3-0 through four innings, and then, similar to the situation two nights ago, the UCLA bats went quiet for the last six innings, with the Bruins only recording one hit, a single. The Trojans took advantage to send the game to extras, where they prevailed.
Although the Trojans hit the ball pretty well, with a .268 team batting average, the problem with their team is the pitching. With a team ERA of 5.33, you are going to struggle to win games. All of the Trojan starters this weekend have high ERAs: 4.12, 5.64, and 7.22, respectively. That looks bad on paper, but how will those pitchers fare against Bruin hitters? UCLA needs to hit the ball, score runs, and maximize this apparent advantage if they want to win this series.
Southern Cal has lost six of their last seven, but six of those games were on the road at Berkeley, where they were swept, and at Oregon State, where they lost 2 of 3. The Trojans are much better at home, where they are 13-8.
THE MATCH UPS
The following are the anticipated starters for the series:
Thursday, May 4th , 6:00 p.m. PT:
UCLA needs a series win against the Trogans. I like tonight’s match-up and I like the match-up on Sunday. Hopefully, both Canning and Olsen can go deep into the game and take the pressure off of UCLA’s reeling bullpen. Anything can happen with this team though, so there is no telling if UCLA can secure the sweep or, conversely, lose the series to their rivals, who would like nothing more than to seriously damage UCLA’s postseason chances.
It all starts tonight at 6 p.m. PT.
This is your UCLA Bruin Baseball versus Southern Cal Trojans game one open thread. Fire away with your thoughts and comments below.