UCLA continues the current homestand with a 3 game conference series against $C. Morgan Center is apparently too busy poring over the plans for 80 yard football practice fields to provide any info on a series which begins tomorrow. So we will take a leap of faith with our own projections for the starting pitching for this matchup.
Once again, as happened last week, the normal Friday-Sunday series is pushed up one day, to Thursday-Saturday. In the following preview, records in "Friday games" refer to the 1st game of a 3 game series, regardless of the actual day of the week. "Saturday games" refer to the 2nd game of a 3 game series, and "Sunday games" refer to the 3rd game of a 3 game series.
Tomorrow night should see James Kaprielian (5-3, 2.12) starting for the Bruins against Wyatt Strahan (3-3, 3.86). UCLA is 7-3 in Friday games, having won the last 4 in a row. This is basically due to lights out pitching from Kaprielian, who has given up 7 earned runs total in his last 6 starts. $C is 5-5 in Friday games, including a complete game shutout from Strahan over Arizona at Dedeaux Field last week.
Friday night should see Grant Watson (4-5, 3.68) starting for the Bruins against Brent Wheatley (3-1, 2.98). UCLA is 4-6 in Saturday games, having lost 4 in a row. Watson has been touched for big innings recently (7 in the 5th inning vs. Utah, 3 in the 2nd inning vs. Arizona, 2 in the 1st inning vs. Long Beach, 5 in the 4th inning vs. ASU). He then seems to settle down, but the damage has already been done. This weekend would be a great time to put an end to this pattern. $C is 5-5 in Saturday games.
Saturday afternoon should see Cody Poteet (3-2, 4.44) starting for the Bruins against Brent Wheatley's older brother, Bob (3-3, 3.86). Poteet had a series of rough outings, but came through nicely last Saturday against Utah with 6 strong innings. UCLA is 6-4 in Sunday games, including a 6-5 win in an early March non-conference game over $C. In that game, Poteet went 6.1 innings with only 1 earned run allowed. A repeat would be most welcome. $C is 6-3 in Sunday games, including 3 straight victories. In the early March contest, Wheatley also had a strong performance, going 6.2 innings with no earned runs allowed.
After last night's 3-0 whitewashing of Loyola Marymount (h/t to Grant Dyer on the mound for the Bruins), UCLA is 22-16. The Bruins are 9-6 in Pac-11 games, which puts them in 4th place, 3.5 games behind conference leader Washington. $C is 21-17, and is currently riding a 6 game winning streak. $C is 9-9 in conference play, which puts them in 6th place, 1.5 games behind the Bruins.
In terms of comparative results against conference opponents, UCLA lost 2 out of 3 at home to ASU, while $C lost 2 of 3 to ASU in Tempe. UCLA lost 2 out of 3 in Tucson to Arizona, while $C swept the Mildcats last weekend at home. UCLA won 2 out of 3 in Salt Lake City vs. Utah, while $C won 2 out of 3 at home against the Utes.
The Bruins have owned $C in recent years, having won 24 of the last 29 games. But this series looks much closer on paper than recent matchups. Watson and Poteet will need to step up big time in the 2nd and 3rd games of the series.
The 2 teams immediately ahead of UCLA in the standings, Oregon State and Oregon, are playing in Eugene. Conference leader Washington is at 7th place Washington State. The Bruins have a chance to pick up some ground, but they need to play as well in games 2 and 3 as they have been in game 1.
The Thursday and Friday games will be televised on the Pac-12 network. Saturday's game will not, which means either in-person (always encouraged) or follow here (also always encouraged), because otherwise you will need to rely on the Morgan Center live stat feed, which means you won't know what happens after the 5th inning.
Go Bruins !!