After Sunday’s loss to USC, coach John Savage told his players that March 5 needed to be stamped in their calendars.
“This is when our mindsets need to change,” he said.
And they did.
UCLA baseball (6-5) came up with a season-high 13 hits in Tuesday’s win against Cal State Northridge, sparking a team that will make its first road trip of the season with a three-game set against Texas (9-6).
“It’s one game, but you know, we kind of made it an emphasis of we’re going to be a different club,” Savage said. “If we can keep those pieces defensively and on the mound, you could see some things moving in the right direction.”
UCLA will look to its right-handed pitchers for the Texas series. Junior Griffin Canning will make the Friday start and sophomore Jon Olsen will close out the series Sunday. Junior Jake Bird’s inflamed shoulder will be evaluated over the weekend and he could pitch Saturday.
Sophomore Justin Hooper and senior Moises Ceja are both available to fill Saturday’s gap if Bird is unavailable.
“We need Jake Bird for the long haul, and if he’s not right, he won’t pitch this weekend,” Savage said.
UCLA and Texas have put up very similar offensive numbers – batting .225 and .232 respectively. The Longhorns have slugged 21 doubles and 11 homers, just beating UCLA’s 17 and nine.
“They’re off to a good start. They got good arms,” Savage said. “Texas is a very difficult place to play. Good home environment. So it will be a good challenge, because we really haven’t been on the road.”
The Longhorns pitching staff is throwing a collective 2.55 ERA – Friday’s starter Morgan Cooper is posting a 1.89 ERA.
After playing in a major league ballpark at Chavez Ravine last weekend, UCLA will go to another big stadium in Austin.
“Texas, they get a huge crowd and their fans are awesome,” freshman infielder Ryan Kreidler said. “We’re also just looking forward to the challenge of being on the road and facing not only a good team but the challenges of being on the road.”
UFCU Disch-Falk Field boasts seating for over 6,000 fans – the turf field is 10 feet further in center and left field compared to Jackie Robinson Stadium, extending 340 feet down the left field line and 400 feet to center.
“We’re also just looking forward to the challenge of being on the road,” Kreidler said. “Traveling, and you get the jet lag coming off the plane and you’re trying to play a three-game series. And then jolting back home for classes Monday. For me, I know, and for a lot of the freshmen, it’s going to be a good experience.”