This weekend is the biggest non-conference weekend for the UCLA Baseball team. It's the weekend of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic. Doesn't that just roll off the tongue? Personally, I preferred the old name. It was simply the "Dodgertown Classic." Much simpler. Anyway, it's still the biggest non-conference weekend on the schedule and it's going to be a tough fight each day.
First up tonight is Vanderbilt. Tonight's matchup pits the defending CWS Champs against the previous CWS Champs. The Commodores (10-2) are also currently the #1 team in the country.
Baseball America notes that Vandy has been the comeback kids this season with three of the wins ending in walkoffs and they've been winning games with youth. Three underclassmen have been absolutely tearing the cover off the ball for the Commodores. Redshirt freshman Penn Mufree, true freshman Will Toffey and sophomore Bryan Reynolds are batting .364, .297 and .320 respectively while the team has been hitting .325 as a whole.
But don't count on the Bruins to roll over.
UCLA is 11-1 so far this season with the lone loss coming to North Carolina. And the Bruins are experiencing a power surge of their own. Currently, the team is hitting .310 with 13 home runs and 89 runs batted in. Ty Moore, Luke Persico, Chris Keck and Kevin Kramer are all slugging over .600 and the Bruin team is ranked 8th in the nation in slugging percentage. In addition to the 13 home runs, the team has also hit 29 doubles and 4 triples.
So, with both teams hitting well, tonight's game will probably come down to pitching.
Tonight's matchup has James Kaprielian (3-0, 2.84 ERA) on the mound for the Bruins while Carson Fulmer (2-0, 1.12 ERA) takes the hill for the Commodores.
Kaprielian's last outing was last Friday against Michigan State where he gave up only 2 runs over 7 innings to pick up his third win of the season.
According to UCLABruins.com, Carson Fullmer is coming off a career-high 11 strikeout game against Illinois State on February 27th which earned him Collegiate Baseball's National Player of the Week honors.
Unfortunately, tonight's game is not televised. So, if you're in the neighborhood, head out to JRS for what should be a beautiful night for baseball. If you're not able to, you can listen live for free on UCLABruins.com where John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call.
On Saturday, the Bruins face off against the TCU Horned Frogs at JRS before taking on the Trogans of Southern Cal in a non-conference game on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Tickets for Sunday's game are $10 for adults, $5 for students and $5 for kids 14 and under at CTO or Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
This is your Vanderbilt-UCLA open thread. Come back tomorrow for a preview of TCU-UCLA and a recap of tonight's game and then join us on Sunday for a U$C-UCLA preview and a recap of tomorrow's game.