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UCLA Bruins vs. San Jose State Spartans Baseball Series Preview and Season Opener Game Thread

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The Bruins will battle the weather and the Spartans this weekend.

UCLA Head Coach John Savage enters his 13th season at the helm of UCLA Baseball
UCLA Head Coach John Savage enters his 13th season at the helm of UCLA Baseball
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The UCLA Baseball team is scheduled to start their season today against the San Jose State Spartans at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The series was supposed to start last night, but the games have been reshuffled to due to inclement weather. At present, tonight’s game is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT.

UCLA should come into this series with a chip on its shoulder after last season’s poor showing, and a lot of young talent with something to prove. SJSU, under new Head Coach Jason Hawkins (who coached the Utah Utes to the PAC 12 regular season title last year and previously coached at UCSB), is looking to rebound from a poor 17-39 showing last year.

SJSU

San Jose State is looking to take its program to the next level in the Mountain West Conference with the hiring of Coach Hawkins. Hawkins knows a little bit about UCLA, as his Utes took two of three against the Bruins in Salt Lake City last season.

Although the Spartans return three starters who combined for 31 starts last year, those three were not very good, the combining for a record of 4-18. Like UCLA’s bullpen, SJSU’s bullpen is a huge question mark.

On offense, the Spartans are led by first baseman, Shane Timmons, who hit .328 last year with 26 RBI. Third baseman, David Campbell, can also swing the bat, hitting .342 in an injury shortened season.

SJSU has stated that the starters in the outfield will be dictated by defense, not offense, so it will be interested to see how much offensive production comes from the outfield positions.

Coach Hawkins has his work cut out for him if the Spartans are to have a successful year this season.

UCLA

The Bruins are coming off a disappointing 2016 year in which they finished second to last in the PAC 12 and did not qualify for postseason play. UCLA was not its usual self under Head Coach John Savage, with uncharacteristically poor pitching and defense that did not meet the usual high standard for UCLA baseball.

To top it all off, UCLA had a tough year at the plate, hitting only .250 as a team. All of that resulted in the second worst John Savage coached UCLA baseball team, better only than Coach Savage’s initial season, in which he inherited a bare cupboard.

The Bruins will have many new faces in the batting lineup and aside from Friday starter, Griffin Canning, it appears that the pitching rotation may be in flux. Surprisingly (at least to me), Kyle Molnar, who looked outstanding at times last season as the Sunday starter, is not listed as one of the starting pitchers this weekend (Jake Bird will take the hill in game two and Jon Olson in game three).

Both Bird and Olson had poor seasons last year, but apparently have impressed Coach Savage in preseason workouts. Maybe Coach Savage is looking at Molnar as the midweek starter.

For more information about the 2016 Bruins, check out BN's preview of the 2017 UCLA Baseball team, in Parts One and Two.

THE MATCHUP

As those in Los Angeles know, the area is being hit by very inclement weather, which required postposing last night’s season opener. At present, the following are the dates, times, and anticipated starting pitchers for the series:

Saturday, February 18, 6:00 p.m. PT:

UCLA - Griffin Canning, RHP, Jr. (5-8; 3.70 ERA last leason)

SJSU - John Nashed, RHP, Jr. (0-6, 4.79 ERA last season)

Sunday, February 19, 1:00 p.m. PT:

UCLA - Jake Bird, RHP, Jr. (1-6; 6.36 ERA last season)

SJSU - Matt Brown, RHP, Jr. (2-7, 5.18 ERA last season)

Monday, February 20, 1:00 p.m. PT:

UCLA - Jon Olson, RHP, So. (0-0, 7.36 ERA last season)

SJSU - Graham Gomez LHP, Sr. (2-5, 5.40 ERA last season)

This is obviously subject to change depending on the weather. Check the UCLA official site for any weather-related updates.

There is no TV for any of the games in the series. John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call for all three games, including tonight’s 6:00 p.m. PT game via streaming online audio.

You can also follow along via live statistics.

FINAL THOUGHTS

UCLA should win this series. Although both teams are coming off poor years and not one starter in the series had a winning record last season, the Bruins have a talent advantage. Although SJSU might steal one game, UCLA should win the series and I think (weather permitting) that it will be a UCLA sweep.

This is your UCLA vs. San Jose State Season Opener, Game One open thread. Fire away with your thoughts and comments.

Goooooooo Bruins!!!!