The Bruins are gunning for their 40th win and 12th consecutive series win.
No. 1 UCLA baseball (38-8, 16-5 Pac-12) will travel north to Pullman, Washington, to face Washington State (10-33-1, 2-18-1) in a three-game series. The Bruins have won 11 straight series and are the only team left in the nation to have not lost a series yet this season.
UCLA has already racked up 38 wins on the season, tying last year’s win total including postseason play. The 38-8 start is also the best record the Bruins have posted through 46 games, surpassing the previous record of 36-10 set in 1979.
A series sweep would also secure a 40-plus win season for UCLA – its first since 2015 when the team hosted an NCAA regional and won the conference. But coach John Savage said he is not looking too much into records set this year.
“Right now, my focus is entirely on Washington State,” Savage said. “And our intention is to constantly get better.”
Junior right-hander Ryan Garcia will make his third Friday start of the season against the Cougars. Since sophomore right-hander Zach Pettway went down with an injury, Garcia has pitched 16 innings, striking out 22 and allowing just two earned runs over his past two starts.
The Bruins’ leadoff batter all season – sophomore right-fielder Garrett Mitchell – has led the UCLA offense over the past week.
Mitchell is just one of four Bruins to start every game so far this year and is currently riding a six-game hitting streak. In those six games, he is batting .615 and has racked up 11 runs and eight extra-base hits.
“I think the most important thing is consistency,” Mitchell said. “And we have some really highs and really lows, so we’re trying to find somewhere in the middle where even when we’re not playing our best on offensive side or defensive side, we can still pull out games.”
Even though the Bruins have been ranked first for the past eight weeks, own the best start in program history and have won every series this season, UCLA is third in the Pac-12 standings behind Stanford and Oregon State.
“Every game is equally important,” Savage said. “No matter if you’re playing this team or that team, it’s all the same.”
The Cougars are dead last in the Pac-12 with just two conference wins to their name. Contrary to UCLA’s 11 series wins, Washington State has yet to win a series in the Pac-12 and has only one series victory this season.
However, the Cougars enter this weekend’s series having won their last two games, tying their longest winning streak of the season. Two weeks ago, Washington State came close to upsetting then-No.2 Oregon State before losing the game 4-3 in the 16th inning.
“I think we got to keep trusting each other as (a) team,” said junior right-hander Felix Rubi. “We need to continue to win as a team and doing things our way.”
First pitch Friday will be at 5:05 p.m., followed by a 2:05 p.m. start time Saturday and a 12:05 p.m. start for the the finale Sunday.