The No. 9 UCLA baseball team followed up a strong weekend with a lopsided loss to Long Beach State on Tuesday. The Bruins already defeated the Dirtbags once this year, taking a 3-2 game in Long Beach last month, but this week’s equalizer wasn’t even close.
LBSU burst out of the gate, notching two runs in the first inning, and then plating six more in the third. UCLA midweek starter Cody Poteet (2-4) struggled with control, giving up five walks and recording a wild pitch in his 2.1 innings of work. The freshman only gave up two hits, but that was enough for LBSU to bring home all those free base runners. In the end, Poteet was responsible for five Dirtbag runs (four earned), and was tagged with the loss.
Continuing a recent trend in 2013, the UCLA offense didn’t do much to help the pitching staff, producing just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts. In spite of two LBSU errors, five walks and a hit batsman, the Bruins couldn’t capitalize in the clutch, stranding 10 men on base. The only hitter that showed up for the home team was sophomore 3B Kevin Kramer, who went 2-for-3 with a double, drew the HBP and scored the lone UCLA run. But other than that, it was slim pickings at the plate.
Offensive woes are nothing new to the Bruins this season, so don’t expect anyone to start panicking over one out-of-conference loss. They’ll keep at it in the cages, looking for the right lineup to kick start the hitting. There’s still a month to go in the regular season, including 15 Pac-12 contests, so splitting the series with Long Beach isn’t that bad.
With that said, dropping an 11-1 decision at home to a sub-.500 team is definitely disappointing. Given the ceiling that the Bruins have exhibited at times, it seems like they should be better than 25-12 overall. Tuesday night’s loss was just one of those clunkers you forgive and forget. We can only hope the team has a short memory and can focus on the future, rather than dwelling on the past.
At this point in the year, every conference series is as crucial as the next, so the Bruins should be thinking only of their trip to Pullman to take on Washington State (19-18, 6-9). If UCLA hopes to hold pace with the Oregon schools in the standings, a series win over the Cougars is compulsory. And while a sweep would be ideal, taking three from WSU on the Palouse is no small feat.
After losing five of the last six, the Cougs will be desperate for a win this weekend. They should come out swinging on their home turf. UCLA is expected to send its usual rotation to the mound, and can hopefully bring the bats along for the ride too. The urgency is building each week, and the Bruins need to be prepared. Another strong performance could be the difference between first place and out of the race. Stay tuned.
First pitch in Pullman is scheduled for 6 PM PT on Friday at Bailey-Brayton Field. Saturday’s game gets underway at 2 PM, and the series finale on Sunday starts at noon. None of the games will be available for broadcast, so make sure to follow @GoJoeBruinUCLA on Twitter for the latest UCLA baseball updates!