Adam Plutko (9), Credit: Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports
The No. 12 UCLA baseball team is set for an exciting weekend of non-conference matchups in the fourth-annual Dodgertown Classic, starting with No. 22 Notre Dame tonight. The event generally features the Bruins, the USC Trojans, and a pair of marquee out-of-conference opponents, and is normally held at Dodger Stadium. But this season, renovations in Chavez Ravine have forced the games to be split among UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium and Southern Cal’s Dedeaux Field.
The Bruins will face off against Notre Dame on Friday at 6 PM PST in Westwood, followed by visits from No. 17 Oklahoma on Saturday and USC on Sunday. The Irish and the Sooners will also play games against the Trojans at ‘SC, and will play each other on Sunday morning before the Los Angeles rivalry showdown.
UCLA (9-2) enters the Dodgertown Classic on a six-game winning streak, while ND (8-2), OU (11-2) and USC (6-6) are all coming off defeats in their most recent outings. The Bruins’ last game out was a 3-2 victory over the Long Beach State Dirtbags that lifted UCLA’s record to 4-1 on the road. This weekend, it’ll be up to head coach John Savage and the Bruins to keep the streak alive and nab a few important Ws along the way.
The starting rotation will go from the top, with typical Friday starter Adam Plutko taking the mound against the Fighting Irish. The junior right-hander was a preseason All-American, but has gotten going a bit slowly over the first few weeks of the season. Plutko currently boasts a 2-0 record and a 2.89 ERA through three starts, which is nothing to scoff at. However, his no decision ended up as a 6-2 loss to Minnesota in the season opener, so there is room for improvement. Plutko has been putting in extra time with Coach Savage early in the morning before practice this week, so he should be dialed in against Notre Dame.
For the Irish, RHP Sean Fitzgerald will get the start versus the Bruins. The 6’3″ junior has gone 1-0 through three starts this season, posting a 3.26 ERA in those appearances. Fitzgerald did have a very productive night his last time out, notching eight strikeouts in 8.0 innings of work, but he did not factor into the decision.
It’s interesting to note that the Irish have yet to play a game in South Bend this season. All of ND’s 10 games have been outside the State of Indiana, starting in Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and now California. After the Dodgertown Classic, Mik Aoki’s squad has four more games in the Golden State before heading home. Eventually, the fatigue of traveling across the country is bound to get to the Irish…and the Bruins are hoping that slide starts tonight.
First pitch against Notre Dame is scheduled for 6 PM PST in Westwood, followed by a 2 PM date with Oklahoma tomorrow and a 3 PM start versus ‘SC on Sunday to round out the weekend. The matchup with the Trojans will count as a non-conference game, as opposed to a Pac-12 contest. The Bruins will travel to Dedeaux for their three-game conference slate against Southern Cal in mid-May.