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UCLA vs. Portland, Season Opener Game Thread: Bruins start title defense

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UCLA baseball is back.

USA TODAY Sports

The last time UCLA played a game, they were dogpiling on the mound at TD Ameritrade Park. That was eight months ago, but now they are back and ready for another season -- as defending national champions.

The Bruins 2014 season gets underway this evening at Jackie Robinson Stadium, where they will host Portland in the first game of a three-game set. The Pilots aren't expected to compete for the West Coast Conference title so it is a soft opening for the Bruins, although with all of the injuries and turnover for UCLA, nothing is really soft. The start of the season will be rough for the Bruins, whose goal is really to start bringing things together when the Pac-12 season kicks off.

UCLA will send new Friday night starter James Kaprielian to the hill tonight for his first collegiate start. Kaprielian was outstanding in the bullpen as a freshman, carrying a 1.55 ERA, and has a fantastic arm. He'll work with a fastball that reaches 94 mph and a great slider.

Portland will counter with Travis Radke, a southpaw that will challenge the Bruins. He went 2-3 with a 3.65 ERA last year and has good stuff. He's one of the WCC's better pitchers so the Bruins' decimated offense will have their work cut out for them.

The game starts at 6 p.m. PT and, as always, you can listen along with John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm. You can also follow along on my UCLA baseball Twitter and on Gamecast. It's the start of a new season, a title defense season, so comment with updates, thoughts and anything else as UCLA gets 2014 underway. Play ball!