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UCLA Battles Maryland for the L.A. Regional

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UCLA fought hard to win two games yesterday, forcing the deciding contest tonight between the Bruins and the Terrapins.

Will Grant Dyer get the start tonight for the Bruins?
Will Grant Dyer get the start tonight for the Bruins?
© Steve Jacobs 2015

Yesterday, the UCLA Bruins baseball team beat the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners, 9-1, and then took care of business against the Maryland Terrapins in the nightcap, 4-2. In doing so, UCLA has forced a deciding game for the L.A. Regional between the Bruins and the Terps tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium. First pitch is at 8:00 p.m. PT.

UCLA finally got their bats in gear yesterday after an underwhelming, five hit performance against Maryland in a loss on Saturday night. The Bruins combined for 26 hits yesterday in two games, led by Daryl Miller, Jr. who went 5-7 in the two contests. UCLA will need to continue hitting tonight if they are to move on to host a Super Regional next weekend against the Virginia Cavaliers.

The real question, however, is who will pitch for the teams tonight?

Cody Poteet (who started against Bakersfield yesterday), Hunter Virant (who started against Maryland yesterday), and Grant Watson (who started against Maryland on Saturday) seem to be the only pitchers who would be unavailable to UCLA’s Head Coach, John Savage. Might James Kaprielian, who threw 93 pitches on Friday night, get the start on three days’ rest? Kap is used to getting a full week of rest, so there would be a lot of uncertainty there.

Having Kaprielian available to pitch at least a few innings today might have entered into Coach Savage’s mind in his decision to start Kap on Friday against Bakersfield, rather than saving him for the winner of Maryland v. Ole Miss on Saturday. Or maybe I am reading too much into this and Coach Savage simply did not want to break up the usual Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starters. Would pitching Kap today affect his potential availability on Friday if the Bruins advance? Does this even enter into Coach Savage’s mind? There is so much uncertainty going into a 5th game of a weekend in a season where most series last 3 games.

My gut tells me that Grant Dyer will get the start for UCLA today. Dyer has gone as many as five innings in relief this season, so it would not be completely unexpected if he were to take the hill to start things off. Thankfully, UCLA has a deep staff to be competitive on a Monday out of the loser’s bracket (unlike, for example, Radford, who is lost 21-0 (!) against Vandy today).

Maryland also faces uncertainty at pitcher. Can their ace, Mike Shawaryn (13-2, 1.66 ERA) go on three days’ rest? Does Maryland have an effective left-hander who is available to counter the lefties in UCLA’s lineup? Will they use a committee approach?

First pitch is at 8:00 p.m., PT. The game will be televised on ESPNU. John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call for all of UCLA’s games via online streaming audio. Live stats are available via the NCAA website.

This is your UCLA v. Maryland Los Angeles Regional Final Open Thread.

Go Bruins!!!