After falling to No. 4 Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday, the No. 10 UCLA baseball team has a quick turnaround before hosting the No. 6 Oregon State Beavers this weekend at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Against the Titans (25-4), the Bruins’ pitching staff was uncharacteristically hittable, allowing nine runs on 12 hits in the 9-6 defeat. Freshman starter Cody Poteet was tagged with loss after giving up four runs on five hits in 3.2 innings of work, dropping his season record to 1-3. Head coach John Savage utilized five relievers in the game, but none of them could slow Fullerton down enough for the Bruins to fight back.
Offensively, UCLA was able to tack on a run here and there, but couldn’t string together enough hits to do any serious damage. In all, Bruin batters accounted for seven hits, three of which came from the consistently hot-hitting Eric Filia. It was the sophomore right fielder’s seventh multi-hit game of the season, which solidifies his spot near the top of the rotation.
Shortstop Pat Valaika and left fielder Ty Moore provided two of the few highlights for UCLA, as Valaika launched a go-ahead two-run homer in the third, while Moore made a miraculous, full-extension diving catch to save a run in the seventh. But other than that, it was mostly bad news for the Bruins, who fell to 18-7 with the loss.
Now, as they look ahead to Oregon State (23-4, 5-1 Pac-12), the Bruins are in desperation mode. Not only are the Beavers two games ahead of UCLA in the Pac-12 standings, but they also own consecutive series victories in the head-to-head matchup. All time, UCLA holds a 33-25 advantage versus Oregon State, but the edge has been dwindling in recent seasons. OSU took 2-of-3 in 2011 and 2012, but have never won three straight series over the Bruins. Needless to say, the Beavs and head coach Pat Casey would love to make history this weekend.
Through 27 games this season, Oregon State has only dropped four decisions and climbed as high as No. 2 in the national polls. The Beavers’ pitching staff boasts the lowest ERA (2.17) in the conference in Pac-12 contests, and have recorded the most backwards Ks with 63 to date. OSU is 12-2 away from Corvallis this season, including an impressive 9-2 in the State of California.
The Bruins and Beavs only have one common opponent so far this season, No. 23 Arizona State. Last weekend, UCLA managed just one win in a three-game set in Tempe, while Oregon State snatched a series win over the Sun Devils by taking 2-of-3 at home the week prior. For what it’s worth, the Beavers outscored ASU 9-7 in the series, while the Bruins were outpaced 21-17. And while you can’t read too much into that, it’s interesting to note how offensive-minded the UCLA series was in comparison.
The starters for OSU have not been revealed yet, but the Bruins are expected to send the usual rotation to the bump—Adam Plutko (2-2) on Friday, Nick Vander Tuig (4-2) on Saturday and Grant Watson (5-0) on Sunday. First pitch for each of the games at JRS is scheduled for the usual times, 6 p.m. for the opener, 2 p.m. for the middle match and 1 p.m. for the finale. Every UCLA game is available via audio broadcast through UCLABruins.com.