Thursday, April 19

UCLA baseball reevaluates its game in preparation for Hawai’i

Shortstop Pat Valaika said that the Bruins need to make changes to improve.

Shortstop Pat Valaika said that the Bruins need to make changes to improve. Jose Ubeda


Today, 6 p.m.
Jackie Robinson Stadium
No TV Info

UCLA baseball is in a rut.

The squad has lost five of its last seven, which it hasn’t done since 2010-11.

“We haven’t been playing that bad of baseball but at the same time it’s a good gauge of where we’re at as a team right now. You can’t really do anything about losing five out of seven,” said freshman left fielder Brett Urabe. “But we’re definitely playing decent baseball and I think we’ve got a lot of room to improve.”

The key for the Bruins (19-9) right now is stringing together solid at-bats – while they get one or two at a time, they struggle to put together enough to make a dent.

Those problems, along with some minor pitching mistakes at bad times, have led to an uncharacteristic number of “L”s clustered together on their schedule.

When Hawai’i (7-21) comes to Jackie Robinson Stadium to play UCLA tonight, it will mark an opportunity for the Bruins to turn things around. The Rainbows have had 145 runs scored against them in 28 games this season. Their struggles on defense and in pitching might be a chance for UCLA to get its bats cracking leading into this weekend.

“(What we need is) just stringing together quality at-bats and playing good defense,” Urabe said. “I think we just need quality out of everybody. Consistent baseball out of everybody and that’ll definitely help us win.”

UCLA, which dropped from No. 10 to No. 17 this week, hasn’t been on its A-game this year, but this is the first period of time in which the team has seen consistent problems in its game.

“We’ve got to pitch better, we got to play better defense. All facets have to get better,” said junior shortstop Pat Valaika. “We always have to improve. We can’t get stagnant so I think we just have to get better as a team.”

However, the Bruins also only started Pac-12 play three weekends ago, and playing in one of the nation’s top conferences, if not the top conference, is always going to be tough.

“It’s the Pac-12. You better be resilient. You got to be resilient,” said coach John Savage.

Despite the issues that the Bruins have had, Savage isn’t concerned quite yet. He wants to wait until today’s game and those of the upcoming weekend before passing judgment on whether or not the team is struggling.

“Depends what you consider a rough patch. You’re talking about losing two out of three against Arizona State, losing one game (against) Fullerton,” Savage said. “I don’t consider that a rough patch. I consider losing nine out of ten a rough patch.”

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