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UCLA vs. Arizona State Sunday Baseball Thread: Rubber Match to Keep Pace at the Top

The #18-ranked Bruins took the opening game against the Sun Devils on Friday night, but came up short on Saturday, falling a game behind Washington in the race to the conference crown. UCLA will look to pick up the rubber match against Arizona State this afternoon in Westwood, needing the win to keep within reach of the Huskies.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

It's Sunday afternoon and unfortunately, our Bruins will need to pick up the win today if they want to take the home series from Arizona State, having lost yesterday afternoon, 8-5. While our Bruins lost, the Ducks (5-3 in Pac-12 play) obliged by dropping a second game to Stanford (3-2 in Pac-12 play), but the Huskies (7-1 in Pac-12 play) spanked Southern Cal, blowing out the Trojans 19-4, completing the rare feat of scoring in all nine innings, and taking sole possession of our first place in the conference. UCLA will need to win today, not only to pick up a home series win, but to keep within touching distance of the surging Huskies.

Grant Watson (5.2 IP, 6 ER, 4 K, 4 BB) gave UCLA three solid innings of shut-out work before the Sun Devils torched him for five runs in the top of the fourth. UCLA responded with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, but the Sun Devils were able to extend their lead, scoring again in the top of the sixth and top of the ninth. While Watson now falls to 4-2 on the year, the Bruins will try to salvage the series this afternoon behind the arm of Sunday starter Cody Poteet (2-1, 3.41 ERA), who will square off against Arizona State's Darin Gillies (1-1, 4.71 ERA). As islandbruin2 pointed out in his series preview, the Bruins are 5-1 in Sunday games started by Poteet, so UCLA will need to keep their bats going and hope Poteet can keep the Sun Devils quiet at the plate. A loss will not only give Arizona State a second successive big road win (having took two out of three from Oregon State in Corvallis), but it will give the Huskies a chance to put some distance in the race to the conference crown.

First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. PST at Jackie Robinson Stadium. If you can't make it out to watch on this beautiful, sunny Southern California spring day, you can listen in live on the digital radio, with John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm on the call, or you can track it live on the official website's Gametracker. Actually, scratch that last one - Chianti Dan's goon squad website can't seem to get the tracker working past the fifth inning, so just go ahead and listen in to Ramey and Wilhelm.

This is your sunny spring Sunday afternoon baseball thread, so fire away in the comment thread with your thoughts, takes on the game, and comments as our Bruins look to keep pace with the Washington Huskies in the race for the top of the conference.