After beating the Omaha Mavericks last night, 5-2, the UCLA Bruins baseball team is in the winners’ bracket of the NCAA Baseball Los Angeles Regional. The Bruins will face a familiar foe from down the 405, the Loyola Marymount Lions (33-23), in what promises to be a raucous affair tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium. First pitch is at 7 pm PT.
It was a nervy first half of the game for the Bruins yesterday versus Omaha. You can read BN’s full recap if you didn’t catch the game. I won’t relive the whole thing here.
Suffice to say, I hope that the Bruins bats get it going a little bit earlier tonight than they did last night. Of course, they were facing one of the top pitchers in the nation in Payton Kinney, who was dominant in the first four innings of the game. Luckily, Ryan Garcia (11-0, 1.39 ERA) was better in the next two innings, and he earned his eleventh win of the year to remain undefeated, throwing 81⁄3 innings and allowing just one earned run.
In an interesting move, Head Coach John Savage opted for Kyle Mora over Holden Powell to record the two-out save. Both were ready in the bullpen and the announcers even mistakenly stated that Powell was coming into the game, before correcting themselves.
But, enough about last night. Tonight, the Bruins have a chance to put themselves in an excellent position while sending LMU to face the winner of Baylor, who crushed Omaha this afternoon by a score of 24-6, for the right to try to beat the Bruins twice, while UCLA, if it wins today, would only need one more win and two games in which to do it to advance to the Super Regionals next weekend. Of course, with a victory, the Lions could flip the script on the Bruins.
The two teams faced each other twice in midweek games this season and, if you know that the Bruins were a perfect 11-0 in midweek games in 2019, you know that they beat LMU twice, first at JRS in a 5-0 shutout, and, then, at Page Stadium by the score of 9-4. But those were midweek games with fourth starters or experimental guys. Tonight, we will see Saturday starters.
UCLA’s top-ranked pitching staff is built for these types of series, with a one-two punch of Garcia and Saturday starter Jack Ralston (11-0, 2.43 ERA), who will take the hill for the Bruins tonight.
Looking back on Loyola Marymount’s series rotation this season, expect to see the Lions counter with senior Josh Agnew (6-4, 3.28 ERA). He has thirteen starts on the season (second on the squad) in fourteen appearances and almost all of them were Saturday starts.
Both teams have been hot to end the season with LMU winning the West Coast Conference tournament and the Bruins on an eleven-game winning streak. This is a huge game for both teams, but UCLA has the edge. Play ball!
This is your UCLA Bruins versus Loyola Marymount Lions Los Angeles Regional Game Four open thread.