At the beginning of the season, UCLA baseball coach John Savage said his team would be much different from last year’s squad offensively.
So far, that hasn’t been the case.
Through 10 games, the Bruins have scored more than five runs just twice, owning a measly .209 team batting average and a .135 average with runners in scoring position.
But UCLA (5-5) can reverse the trend Tuesday in its rematch against Cal State Northridge (6-5), who notched a come-from-behind 6-5 victory against the Bruins a week ago.
“We win together and lose together,” Savage said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh the offense is no good.’ That’s not what we’re saying in the clubhouse. We’re just saying we need to change our approach and we can do that. It’s very doable, it’s very fixable.”
While UCLA has had difficulty in stringing base hits together, the team has not lacked power.
Of the Bruins’ 66 hits, 26 of them – 39.4 percent – have been for extra bases. That differs greatly from last season, when 24.3 percent of their total hits were extra-base hits.
Of the team’s extra-base hits, nine have been home runs, more than half UCLA garnered in 56 games last year.
“Our swings are fine,” said junior first baseman Sean Bouchard. “We have a lot of good players on this team and like coach said, there’s nothing monumental about turning this around … We’re not worried at all, it’s just changing our mentality.”
While a majority of UCLA’s bouts have showcased pitching duels, last week’s matchup against CSUN was a hitting battle. But that was at Matador Field, a hitter-friendly park.
The conditions at Jackie Robinson Stadium are much different, with fences – other than straightaway center field – ranging back at least five feet deeper than ones at CSUN’s park.
“It’s the same game, both sides have to play the same field, so it’s the same thing,” said sophomore center fielder Daniel Amaral. “I wouldn’t feel that it’s a disadvantage or an advantage for one side or another, or that we have to change our approach.”
The Bruins will send sophomore pitcher Justin Hooper to the mound against the Matadors once again. The left-hander lasted five innings at CSUN, yielding two runs on three hits, while notching four strikeouts.
But after leaving with the lead in hand, the bullpen allowed four runs in the final four innings, resulting in the one-run loss.