The No. 2 Bruins head to Tempe this weekend for a late season matchup against the No. 9 Arizona State Sun Devils. UCLA Baseball sits atop the conference with a 34-11 (16-5) record, and the Sun Devils are in second place at 29-15 (14-7).
While the Sun Devils enter the series having dropped three of their last four, the Bruins won’t want to get complacent as Arizona St. is much stronger at home than on the road. The Sun Devils must rely on their offense to win games because their pitching is among the worst in the Pac-12 — no Sun Devil pitcher sports a sub-3.00 ERA. The Bruins will look to corral senior RF Trever Allen and sophomore 3B David Greer, the Sun Devils’ leading hitters.
The strong UCLA pitching rotation lines up well for the series, with junior ace James Kaprielian taking the mound Friday night, followed by Grant Watson and Griffin Canning.
While the Bruins are by no means a one dimensional team — the offense ranks in the top third of the conference in OBP, fewest strikeouts, SLG, RBI, runs, hits, and average — the calling card of this Bruins team is its pitching staff, which is second in the nation in ERA and leads the conference in ERA, strikeouts, and opponents’ batting average.
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That said, the offense may prove to be the key for the Bruins. They’ve won by an average score of 7.7-2.4 and lost by an average score of 5.3-1.5, meaning they score six more runs in their wins than in their losses. As goes the offense, so goes the team, it would appear.
If senior 3B Chris Keck and junior LF Ty Moore — who’s on a ridiculous hot streak — can set the tone offensively and tee off on the vulnerable Sun Devil pitching staff, the Bruins should feel good about their chances of coming home from Tempe with at least two wins.
UCLA went 1-2 at home against Arizona St. last season, the last time these teams have met. This is UCLA’s second top-ten conference matchup of the year, with the Bruins having taken two of three at then-No. 6 USC in mid-April. Friday and Saturday’s games are at 6:30, and Sunday’s is at 12:30. Stats and figures from uclabruins.com.