UCLA Preview

Austin Booker looks to continue his hot play against UCLA

Cal enters the series against the Bruins with a lot to play for. At this point, the Bears should be in the NCAA Tournament, but they will not be hosting their regional. What they’re fighting for is better seeding and an easier road to the next round.

Friday: Erik Johnson (5-2, 2.11 ERA) at Gerrit Cole (5-6, 3.42 ERA)

Cole was looked at extensively earlier in the week, so look back in the past week for more analysis on him. In short, he’s got #1 pick in the draft stuff, but the results aren’t there. Johnson is not regarded as an upper level MLB prospect, but he’s a fine ace for this Bear staff and has produced results all year long. The predicted edge goes to Johnson, but Cole can easily pitch like an ace.

Saturday: Kevin Miller (5-4, 2.27 ERA) at Trevor Bauer (10-2, 1.40 ERA)

Trevor Bauer is the best pitcher in college baseball right now. For more on him, look further down. Kevin Miller’s put together a fine senior season, but he’s had problems against the better Pac-10 competition. Cal’s going to need a great performance from Miller and some luck against Bauer to win this one. It’s not impossible; Bauer’s been beaten twice, but it’s not easy.

Adam Plutko looks to continue his dominant freshman year against the Bears.

Sunday: Justin Jones (7-4, 3.05 ERA) vs. Adam Plutko (5-3, 1.65 ERA)

Jones has stepped up his game in Pac-10 play, as he’s picked up some of the Bears’ biggest quality wins thus far. He was the one that solved Oregon State and got the Bears their lone win there. Plutko is just a freshman, but he’s shown that he can handle the pressure of major college baseball and has not taken a hit at all since Pac-10 began. This was anointed the “Marquee Mound Showdown” by Baseball America, and should live up to those expectations.

Hitters to Watch: The Bruins are not an offensive juggernaut. 3B Cody Regis (.288, 4 HR) leads the team in home runs and also is patient at the plate. CF Beau Amaral (.316, 2 HR) leads the team in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. He’s a solid #2 hole hitter for UCLA. RF Chris Giovinazzo (.263, 14-15 SB) is only a leadoff hitter in the sense that he steals bases; he doesn’t get on base very much. 1B Dean Espy (.303, 2 HR) is a decent #3 hitter, but he swings at a lot of pitches and doesn’t hit for the power you’d expect from a first basemen.

This is a big series for the Bears. There’s a lot of stake against a rival and with the season winding down. The Bears could easily take 2 out of 3, but just as easily get swept. One thing you’ll see a lot of is great pitching; every starter in this series could be drafted at some point in their career. Go Bears!