Baseball

LONG BEACH STATE
Today, 6 p.m.
Jackie Robinson Stadium
No TV info

UCLA baseball coach John Savage noted the importance of Tuesday night games – in his words, they “set the tone” for the week.

UCLA’s hard-fought win last Tuesday at UC Irvine certainly put them on a good track going into a weekend series win against Oregon, and tonight at home the Bruins will look to get off on the right foot once again against the Long Beach State Dirtbags.

“We approach every Tuesday the same way – we know we’ll play a good team, and it’s a new week with new challenges. … It sets a tone for the week,” Savage said.

And with another conference away series this weekend, setting that tone will be important for UCLA to carry on momentum. A big win last Tuesday led to UCLA taking two out of three from Oregon, who was three spots ahead of the Bruins in the rankings going into the weekend.

Now, the Ducks have taken the Bruins’ previous spot – No. 13 – and UCLA has popped up into the top 10 at No. 9.

While UCLA struggled on offense this weekend, it was due in part to the tough ballpark they played in. Coming back to Jackie Robinson on a stretch of good wins can only be described as a positive factor for the Bruins right now.

The last time the Bruins faced the Dirtbags, it was at Long Beach and the win was a grind, as the game was tied in the ninth until junior outfielder Brenton Allen was walked in for a run.

Those walks and hit by pitches to get the bats working have come less often of late. Sophomore catcher Shane Zeile noted that in order to keep playing well, it’s vital that the team gets its offense back.

“It’s always an exciting game against Long Beach; by no means do we take Tuesday off,” Zeile said. “We’ve gotta wake up the bats and keep pitching well, and stay together as a team.”

However, the team is on something of a roll right now, having won six of its last eight, but it takes the games week by week. The tone the Bruins set tonight can have an effect on whether or not they keep that going.

“Well we’re trying to build momentum to finish up the year. … I think we’ll try to keep it up and keep it rolling,” said junior center fielder Brian Carroll.