The Bruins have a busy week. Busier than usual.
After taking two out of three games against Gonzaga last weekend, UCLA baseball (4-2) will play Cal State Northridge (3-4) on Tuesday and the Korea Baseball Organization’s NC Dinos on Wednesday in an exhibition game.
The Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic is this weekend, which will wrap up a stretch of eight games in 10 days for the Bruins.
“You can’t breathe out here on the West,” said coach John Savage. “It’s very unforgiving.”
Savage will send Justin Hooper to the mound for the Bruins on Tuesday. The sophomore has yet to start a game this season, but Savage said the lefty has been promising in his two relief outings, in which he has struck out 12 and walked two over 5 2/3 innings pitched.
Hooper has been charged with three earned runs, giving him an earned run average north of four, but all three were inherited runners who scored with another pitcher on the mound.
Savage called CSUN one of the most improved programs out there, noting that the Big West is an outstanding league. The Matadors are coming off a four-game series against Towson, in which they lost three games.
Redshirt senior Drake Atlee will make his first career start Tuesday, taking the hill for CSUN. In three relief appearances this season, he’s totaled a 5.40 ERA in 3 1/3 IP.
Tuesday night’s game marks UCLA’s first road matchup of the year. The last time the Bruins visited Northridge, the Matadors pulled off a 20-12 victory.
“You’re batting first instead of second; you’re on a new field you’re not used to, so it will be a good test,” said senior left fielder Brett Stephens. “Northridge is a good team. They always play well at their place.”
The Bruins will treat Wednesday’s game against the NC Dinos as a practice so that players can get their rest, Savage said. The team did not hold a full practice Monday. Instead, players worked out on their own.
When NC Dinos visited Jackie Robinson Stadium last season, the Bruins fell 4-2 when closer Brian Gadsby gave up two runs in the top of the ninth.
Gadsby had an up-and-down weekend against Gonzaga, getting tagged with the loss in Friday’s 10-inning game but firing a perfect ninth to earn UCLA its first save of the year Sunday.
Redshirt sophomore catcher Daniel Rosica predicted that the sophomore closer would come around following Friday’s poor performance.
A YouTube livestream will be availablefor Tuesday’s game against CSUN. There will not be any video, audio or live-stats coverage of the NC Dinos match Wednesday.