The UCLA Bruin Baseball team (3-0) welcomes the Pepperdine Waves (2-2) tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium. First pitch is at 6 p.m. PT. UCLA is coming off a series sweep of the Portland Pilots and will play one game against its Malibu neighbors before hosting Baylor this weekend. Pepperdine split a home series against Louisiana Tech this past weekend, and will present a tougher test for the Bruins than did the Pilots.
The Waves are coming off a disappointing 2017, going 20-32 and missing the postseason. Unusually, UCLA did not play Pepperdine last season, and there is no return trip up the coast for the Bruins this season.
In the series with Louisiana Tech last weekend, Pepperdine only generated six runs in four games. The Waves are hitting .201 as a team, barely above the Mendoza line. Nobody on the squad is hitting above .300; the closest is freshman first baseman, Billy Cook, who is at .286. Pepperdine will likely need to hit the ball better than that to match the hot-hitting Bruins, who are batting .364 as a team.
Freshman right hander, Cooper Chandler (0-1, 5.40 ERA), who gave up two runs and took the loss in 3.1 innings on work on Saturday, will take the mound on short rest for the Waves tonight. A freshman on short rest? Hmmm, he could be vulnerable.
The Bruins took care of business last weekend against a team they were supposed to beat, earning the series sweep of Portland. Although the team struggled some with the bat on Friday night (getting outhit by the Pilots yet scoring seven runs on hit batters, bases on balls, and a few scattered hits) the UCLA bats exploded on Saturday and Sunday, to the tune of 28 runs in two games. The team was led at the plate by three sophomore infielders, Chase Strumpf (.700, 4 2B, 1 HR), Michael Toglia (.462, 3 2B, 1 HR), and Ryan Kreidler (.400, 1 HR).
Although the starters pitched well, Head Coach John Savage wisely got a lot of work for his young bullpen, with some players, including Chase Farrell and Holden Powell, making their first appearances of their Bruins careers.
Tonight, Coach Savage will give the ball to sophomore Ryan Garcia, who had 16 relief appearances last season but will be making his first appearance of the year and his first start as a Bruin. Go Ryan!
Although the Waves are a step up in competition for UCLA, the Bruins should prevail this evening in Westwood.
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