The UCLA baseball team (17-7, 6-3 PAC 12) returns to Westwood this weekend after a four game road trip, but it does not get easier as the Bruins welcome Stanford (22-3, 5-1 PAC 12) to Jackie Robinson Stadium for a three game series. First pitch of game one is tonight at 6 p.m. PT.
The Bruins went 2-2 on the road trip, dropping the series last weekend to UC Berkeley in the Bay Area and mauling Loyola Marymount on Tuesday night, 13-1. Stanford has won four straight, with losses only to Oregon, Texas, and Michigan on the season.
Let’s take a closer look at the Cardinal
Statistically, Stanford is very similar to UCLA. but they have had more success than the Bruins have had this season. The Cardinal are hitting .267 as a team (UCLA is hitting two points higher at .269). Stanford has 19 home runs on the season; UCLA has 17. The Cardinal have scored 158 runs; The Bruins have scored 151.
Freshman center fielder Tim Tawa (.323, 4 HR, 22 RBI), junior outfielder Brandon Wulff (.324, 2 HR, 17 RBI), sophomore outfielder Kyle Stowers (.293, 4 HR, 21 RBI), and sophomore utility man Andrew Daschbach (.286, 5 HR, 24 RBI) can hit for both average and power, giving the Cardinal consistency throughout their lineup.
Like the Bruins, where Stanford really shines is in the pitching department. Stanford’s team ERA is 2.21, good for #2 in the country (UCLA is #4 with an ERA of 2.37).
One difference between Stanford and UCLA is in the closer spot. While UCLA has had issues finishing ballgames and no one player has more than three saves, Stanford has a rock of a closer in Jack Little, who has nine saves in 11 appearances out of the ‘pen. Little has an ERA of 0.00 in 20 and 1⁄3 innings, giving up just eight hits and striking out 24. If Stanford has the lead in the 9th, you can pretty much turn out the lights.
Right handed junior Tristan Beck (3-1, 3.55 ERA) gets the start for the Cardinal. Beck has struck out 34 batters in 33 innings on the season.
Jon Olson still has not fully recovered from the facial fractures he suffered last month against Southern Cal. As such, the Bruins will pitch Jake Bird (2-2, 1.39 ERA) tonight, followed by Zach Pettway (5-0, 2.23 ERA) tomorrow night. The Sunday starter is TBA.
With the #2 pitching staff in the nation facing the #4 pitching staff in the nation, this weekend figures to feature tight pitchers duels, with games potentially decided by an opponent’s miscues. UCLA leads the Cardinal in that department, with the #9 fielding percentage in college baseball at .983. Stanford is #76 at .973.
Jeremy Ydens still leads UCLA in batting, hitting .359. Michael Toglia has cooled off his torrid pace a bit, but he is still hitting .309. with 18 RBI and four home runs. Jack Stronach, Jake Hirabayashi, and Jake Pries are all hitting a respectable .280, mcuh better than their 2017 average.
There is no television or streaming video for this series. If you want to watch, you need to buy a ticket! You can follow along via streaming audio or live stats by clicking the hyperlinks in the sidebar above.
This is going to be a tough series for the Bruins. Stanford is very, very good and is 5-1 against the top 25 this year. The Bruins are 0-1 against the top 25, falling to Vanderbilt at home in early March. My heart wants the Bruins to take the series but my mind says no, and I think Stanford will win two of three. That could change if Jake Bird has a good start tonight. Jake has had a tough go of it of late, with only two wins despite a stellar ERA. If he can return to form tonight and the Bruins get a series opening win, I like their chances of taking one more game on Saturday or Sunday. We will see.
This is year UCLA Bruins versus Stanford Cardinal game one open thread. Go Bruins!!!