The top ranked UCLA Bruins baseball team (45-18, 22-5 Pac-12) keeps rolling along, sweeping this Washington Huskies (28-22, 12-15 Pac12) in a convincing fashion. On Sunday, the Bruins completed the sweep by the score of 14-2.
UCLA has now won eight straight games and 24 of its last 26. Tonight, the Bruins are in Eugene to face the Ducks (27-27. 10-17 Pac-12) in the final series of the regular season. First pitch of tonight’s game is 6 pm PT.
Due to a rain-out in the Stanford versus Oregon State series, and the Pac-12’s refusal to allow a double-header on Friday despite the Saturday and Sunday forecast for rain due to Pac-12 Network television issues, those teams only played two games last weekend, which they split. That means that the Bruins have a 11⁄2 game lead on both of those teams and would win the Pac-12 outright by winning the series this weekend against Oregon. UCLA has not lost a series all season.
In the national picture, it would be hard to imagine the Bruins not getting either a #1 or #2 seed at this point with Vanderbilt getting the other top seed. The national postseason field will be announced on Monday at 9:00 am PT.
Last Time Out
On Sunday, UCLA clobbered the Washington Huskies by the score of 14-2. UCLA slammed six home runs, including two by Jeremy Ydens and two by Ryan Kreidler, who also doubled and had five RBI. Michael Toglia, who went 3 for 3, accounted for one of the other home runs, as did Garrett Mitchell, who went 3 for 6, with three runs scored and three RBI. Mitchell had yet another triple, giving him four for the series and nine on the season.
The Bruins put crooked numbers on the board in five of the eight innings in which they batted, including five in the first inning, which including both Kreidler’s and Ydens’ first home runs of the day. Eleven of UCLA’s fourteen runs came from the long ball.
On the other side of the ledger, UCLA Head Coach John Savage was quick with the hook, removing UCLA starter Jessie Bergin after the Huskies led off the second inning with three singles and a walk, scoring two runs before any outs were recorded and cutting UCLA’s lead to 5-2.
Savage called on Michael Townsend, who retired the side without allowing another run and ended up throwing a total of four shutout and hitless innings to record the win, his second of the season. Jack Filby, Nate Hadley, Kyle Mora, and Holden Powell pitched scoreless innings in the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, respectively.
Oregon is playing for pride at this point, as even a (completely unexpected) sweep of the Bruins would only raise its conference record to 13-17. Although a sweep would raise Oregon’s existing RPI of 59, it probably would not be enough considering its conference record and the committee’s focus on, and disfavor of, losing conference records when deciding on bubble teams in the past.
The Ducks are just average with the bats, hitting .264 as a team. Only two players are batting over .300: junior third baseman Spencer Steer (.356, 6 HR, 56 RBI), hitting out of the three-hole; and and freshman shortstop Sam Novitske (.313, 0 HR, 21 RBI), typically leading off. Clean up hitter Gabe Matthews (.295, 6 HR, 34 RBI) and freshman outfielder Tanner Smith (.290, 4 HR, 34 RBI), the latter typically hitting out of the two-spot, also have good numbers. This appears to be a top heavy lineup.
Pitching is much more of a concern for Oregon, which does not bode well for it again UCLA’s balanced and increasingly potent lineup. The Bruins are now hitting .295 as a team and are scoring an average of 6.66 runs per game. Oregon’s team ERA is slightly lower than that, checking in at 5.97 earned runs per game. The statistics do not favor the Ducks, nor does their recent record, as Oregon is a combined 4-8 in May.
Statistics, however, are just numbers on paper (or in cyberspace) and they still have to play the games. Anything can happen but the Bruins know that they have to finish strong to maximize their seeding in the tournament, so they should be ready to go.
I predict a series win for the Bruins and, depending on how Vandy does in the SEC Tournament in the coming days, either a #1 or #2 seed come Sunday.
This is your UCLA Bruins versus Oregon Ducks baseball game one open thread.