The Bruins are gearing up for their fourth game in just five days.
No. 11 UCLA baseball (9-2) will take on Loyola Marymount (3-9) on Tuesday after wrapping up a weekend series in Minneapolis on Sunday evening. The Bruins haven’t had a chance to take a breath over the past week, either traveling or playing every day since Feb. 27, but coach John Savage said he isn’t worried about how his team will recover.
“Flying home, just trying to get home,” Savage said. “That’s really all we’re doing right now … and we’ll get back at it.”
Sophomore pitcher Ryan Garcia will start the game, Savage said. Garcia has made four appearances so far this year, with two of them coming out of the bullpen. He has shown promise in his two starts this season, with a 0.84 ERA and 10 1/3 strikeouts per nine innings when he gets the starting nod.
In his second season with the team, Garcia has already surpassed the 12 1/3 innings he pitched last year, cementing himself as a constant in Savage’s starting rotation.
Junior third baseman Jake Hirabayashi was struggling headed into this past weekend, with just a .217 batting average and two RBIs through his first eight games. His bat rebounded, going 5-for-13 with five RBIs and hitting his first home run of the year across the three games in Minneapolis.
Hirabayashi, who had a .157 career batting average in his first two seasons in Westwood, is now batting .278 with a .866 on-base plus slugging, and has started in all but one of the Bruins’ games this year.
LMU has struggled early on, tallying three extra inning losses that have prevented it from becoming a .500 team. As a nationally ranked team, the Bruins are heavy favorites, but Savage said he won’t overlook any opponent.
“We prepare like we prepare for anybody we’re going to play,” Savage said. “It’s about us and how we’re going to play.”
UCLA has taken eight of the last ten matchups with LMU dating back to March 2004, with its last loss coming over four years ago. However, the Lions are fresh off of a successful 2017 season in which they went 38-18 and finished tied atop the West Coast Conference.
Despite the matchup with LMU next up on the schedule, Savage says he is excited to take on some of the best programs in the country in the Dodgers Stadium College Baseball Classic this weekend.
“It’s a big week ahead of us. … so it should be fun,” Savage said.