The UCLA Bruins baseball team (8-0) heads to Texas this weekend to play a trio of “Power Five” conference teams, starting this afternoon against the #16 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-2). First pitch is at 1 p.m. PT.
The Bruins will follow today’s game with contests against undefeated and #18 ranked Texas A&M (10-0) tomorrow, and versus Illinois (3-3) on Sunday. These games are the first ones in 2020 in which UCLA will play away from home, where the Bruins started the season a perfect 8-0. Oklahoma State and Texas A&M will also be the first ranked teams that UCLA will face this season.
Last Time Out
UCLA got a taste of tougher competition in the midweek game on Wednesday, facing then-undefeated Pepperdine (7-1). The Bruins prevailed by the score of 8-2, but it was a 2-1 game through five and a half innings.
Freshman Jared Karros (2-0) recorded his second win in a Bruin uniform and only allowed two hits over five innings. Although the UCLA bullpen surrendered its first runs of the young season, the offense came alive in the bottom of the seventh inning with four runs to put the game away.
Once again, UCLA started quickly, scoring two runs—on a Garrett Mitchell single and a Jarron Silva home run—before the Waves even recorded an out. It stayed that way until the top of the sixth inning, after Karros was replaced by reliever Sean Mullen, who allowed a lead-off single, followed by a walk, followed by an RBI single. With two on and no outs, the Bruins bullpen retired the next three batters, limiting the damage and preserving a 2-1 lead.
UCLA would extend the lead to 3-1 in the bottom half of the frame, as Jake Moberg singled home Matt McLain, who led off the inning with a double. The Bruins would put the game out of reach in the next inning, plating four runs after the first five UCLA batters reached base on four singles and a walk. Both teams would tack on one more run each, resulting in the final 8-2 score.
Today, UCLA will start Friday starter Zach Pettway (1-0, 1.42 ERA), who had perhaps the best outing of his UCLA career last week, scattering three hits over 62⁄3 innings, and striking out 13.
After losing two of three games to Grand Canyon University to start the season, the Cowboys have won six straight, including a midweek victory over Arizona State, 2-1.
Oklahoma State is batting .321 as a team, but take that with a grain of salt. Aside from the ASU win, the Cowboys have played Grand Canyon (3 games), UT Rio Grande Valley (3 games), and Arkansas Little Rock (two games). Six starters are hitting .333 or better, and the team on-base percentage is .400. Of particular note is catcher Max Hewitt, who is hitting .483. The three hole hitter, third baseman Jake Thompson, leads the Cowboys with 14 RBI.
OK State will send junior left hander Parker Scott (2-0, 0.75 ERA) to the mound to face the Bruins today. Scott has started two games for the Cowboys and earned wins in both games. Against GCU, he allowed two runs over six innings and, against UT Rio Grande Valley, he allowed no runs and only one hit in six innings.
The Cowboys have hit the ball well, but they have yet to face a pitching staff of UCLA’s caliber. If Pettway can come close to how he pitched last week, UCLA should win today’s game. I worry a bit about the freshman field players in their first game away from home, but I think UCLA’s veteran staff should carry the day. Also, the Bruins have so much flexibility in their lineup that the prospect of facing a left-handed starting pitcher should not phase them.