UCLA baseball remains the consensus #1 team in the country and had an overall successful weekend in Tempe, but a furious rally in Sunday’s game left a sour taste in the team’s mouth. It’s time to see if a bounce back is in order.
Last Time Out
On Sunday, UCLA put itself in an early 4-0 hole, with Arizona State’s Hunter Bishop hitting a grand slam in the first inning. The Bruins would answer back quickly, however, scoring three runs in the top of the second inning and seven unanswered runs total. After that rough first inning, UCLA starter Jesse Bergin settled down and did not give up another run to finish with five innings pitched total.
The UCLA offense on Sunday was a bit of a throwback compared to Saturday’s 7-HR outpouring. UCLA took advantage of four Arizona State errors in the game, including a wide throw to first by pitcher Blake Burzell on a sacrifice bunt that allowed Noah Cardenas to score from second base. In general, the UCLA offense strung hits together to get their runs, while two of their runs came thanks to errors and another two came where ASU had to take the outs and could not make a play at the plate.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Arizona State’s high-powered offense finally showed up late for the Sun Devils, beginning with a sixth inning solo home run which cut the lead to 7-5. The eighth inning proved to be the Bruins’ undoing as the Sun Devils plated three runs, including another solo home run, to take an 8-7 lead and the Bruins were unable to get anything going in the ninth inning.
Still, this was a successful road trip for the Bruins, having won the series and limiting the damage done by ASU’s offense. In fact, in limiting the #2 offense in the nation to 13 runs over the entire weekend, UCLA was able to hold on to the nation’s ERA lead with a 2.74.
Long Beach State Dirtbags
The Bruins and the Dirtbags have already met once this year. In that meeting at Long Beach State on March 12th, the Bruins were able to prevail 2-0. Seven Bruin pitchers combined to throw the shutout in that game, while right fielder Garrett Mitchell provided all the offense, hitting a solo home run and driving in the other run with a single.
Both teams will be going with a new starter today compared to that last meeting. Felix Rubi gets the nod for the Bruins. This will only be his 7th appearance of the season and his first start. None of Rubi’s other appearance have goneng longer than an inning, this looks to be another bullpen game for the Bruins, and that might be the decision going forward with Jesse Bergin moved to the weekend. Rubi last pitched this past weekend, when he threw one scoreless inning of relief in Saturday’s 18-3 drubbing of the Sun Devils.
The Dirtbags are relatively hot at the moment, as they are coming off a weekend sweep of UC Riverside. Relatively is the key term there, as the Dirtbags are still just 11-34 in what has been a long, disappointing season for the normally strong Long Beach State baseball program.
With this being the last midweek home game of the season, you have to assume the Bruins would love to end it with a win, especially since that would keep them undefeated in midweek games on the season with just one more to go. On paper, this should be an easy victory, but I also don’t expect John Savage’s squad will overlook anyone right now.
This is your UCLA vs. Long Beach State midweek baseball open thread.