The UCLA Bruin baseball team (4-3) will be participating in the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic this weekend. First up for the Bruins are the Michigan Wolverines (7-2), tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium. First pitch is at 6 p.m. PT. UCLA will play the University of San Diego tomorrow at 2 p.m. PT, also at JRS. On Sunday at 3 p.m. PT, the Bruins will face Southern Cal at Dodger Stadium.
Michigan is hot, having won five straight games, and are coming off a 14-2 shellacking of Loyola Marymount. The Wolverines have not played a home game yet. They are 2-0 on the road and 5-2 in neutral site games. Good for them.
UM will send Oliver Jaskie (1-0, 3.60 ERA) to the mound tonight. Jaskie, a left handed junior was the B1G Co-Pitcher of the Week last week after throwing six scoreless innings against Saint Louis on February 24th.
Michigan can hit the ball. As a team, they are batting .282 and they have four starters who are hitting .342 or higher. UM has power at the plate as well. The Wolverines already have eight home runs on the season (by comparison, UCLA had only 14 home runs during the entire 2016 season).
UCLA is coming off a midweek loss to CSUN, 6-5. Continuing a disappointing trend from last season, the Bruins are not getting it done in midweek games against lesser competition. UCLA is now 0-2 in midweek games this season against UC Riverside at home and Northridge in the valley.
The Bruins did win a meaningless exhibition game on Wednesday, 5-2, which does not count in the standings against someone called the NC Dinos (of the Korean Baseball Association). UCLA needed three runs in the 8th to break a 2-2 tie.
The Bruins will need to bounce back this weekend and in the midweek game next week at home against CSUN, before traveling to Austin, TX for a three games series against the 7-3 Texas Longhorns.
Sean Bouchard has stepped up as a junior this year. "Bouch" is hitting .478 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI. He needs some help. Like last season, Brett Stephens is off to a poor start, hitting .174 with 7 strikeouts. Freshman Michael Toglia is also hitting .174, and has 7 strikeouts. Toglia gets a pass because he is a freshman. Not so for Stephens, who should be crushing it his senior year.
The big problem has been UCLA’s bullpen. Case in point: Griffin Canning (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will take the hill for UCLA tonight. Despite throwing 13 innings of 4 hit ball with 20 strikeouts and zero—that’s right--zero runs allowed, Canning has not gotten a decision in either of his starts. In both games, Canning left with a lead: 2-0 against SJSU and 1-0 against Gonzaga. (I guess run support for Canning is an issue too). The kid should be 2-0.
Neither tonight’s game nor tomorrow’s game will be televised. Sunday’s matchup against the Trogans will be shown on the PAC 12 Network.
I predict a loss tonight for the Bruins. Canning will do well, pitch his 6 or 7 innings, and then UCLA will lose the game after he hits the showers. Sorry for the cynicism, but I am just not that high on this team right now. I hope that I am wrong, Canning throws a no-hitter, and UCLA wins 10-0. And then I will happily eat crow tomorrow.
Give us your thoughts in the comment section.