The UCLA Bruins baseball team (51-10) is facing elimination tonight after falling to the Michigan Wolverines last night by the score of 3-2 in game one of the Los Angeles Super Regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium. First pitch of tonight’s game two is at 6 pm PT and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
If the Bruins are to have a chance tonight, they must hit the ball better than they did last night. UCLA only mustered one hit through eight innings last night and, although the team had three hits in the ninth inning, scoring two runs, it was too little, too late, as the Bruins needed one more hit, instead stranding the tying run on third base.
In an interesting twist, Michigan pitched today’s scheduled starter Jeff Criswell (7-1, 2.82 ERA) in a save situation last night. Criswell faced the final two batters of the game, retiring both, and earning the save. It was Criswell’s only relief appearance of the season. The Wolverines’ regular Saturday starter only threw only nine pitches. So, he should be good to go today.
It would not be shocking, however, if Michigan Head Coach Erik Bakich instead elects to start the projected Sunday starter Tommy Henry (9-5, 3.61 ERA) in tonight’s game and save Criswell for a possible game three. After all, the lefthander Henry earned the victory over UCLA when the two teams met in the regular season.
UCLA’s pitching situation is more settled. The Bruins regular Saturday starter Jack Ralston (11-1, 2.55 ERA) will take to the hill for the Bruins tonight. Ralston should be hungry for a victory, as he suffered his first and only loss of the season last weekend versus Loyola Marymount when he allowed three runs on six hits over six and one third innings. Ralston struck out ten Lions last weekend.
The LMU loss last weekend wasn’t a bad outing for Ralston and could be considered a “hard luck” loss. Ralston just didn’t get much run support from the Bruins bats. UCLA only mustered two runs on seven hits, losing 3-2.
The Bruins lost by the same score last night, but only had four hits. Jack Stronach and Jeremy Ydens had particularly poor games at the plate last night. Stronach struck out three times on four at-bats, including a swinging strikeout for the final out of the game. Ydens struck out twice and neither player reached base. Both players should be motivated to have better plate appearances today.
Last weekend, after dropping into the elimination bracket, the Bruins rallied to win their last three games to earn a spot in the Super Regional round. To make it to Omaha, the Bruins face a similar task, needing wins tonight and tomorrow.
It will be a stiff test against UM, but the Bruins have been resilient all season, bouncing back to win the final two games of weekend series after dropping the first game versus Georgia Tech, Southern Cal, and Stanford.
This is your UCLA Bruins versus Michigan Wolverines Los Angeles Super Regional Game Two open thread.
Go Bruins!!! Bring home 119!!!