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UCLA baseball gears up for weekend series at home against Oregon State

Senior right-hander Zach Pettway has allowed at least four earned runs in three of his last four starts coming into UCLA baseball’s Friday night matchup against Oregon State – owners of the Pac-12’s third-highest run-producing offense. (Daily Bruin file photo)

Baseball


Oregon State
Friday, 7 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
Pac-12 Networks
Oregon State
Saturday, 6 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
Pac-12 Networks
Oregon State
Sunday, noon

Jackie Robinson Stadium
Pac-12 Networks

By Sam Connon

April 30, 2021 1:47 p.m.

The Bruins didn’t get a chance to fine-tune their play in a midweek game Tuesday night.

And the last two times that has happened this season, they’ve gone on to lose their ensuing weekend series.

UCLA baseball (23-13, 10-8 Pac-12) will host Oregon State (28-12, 10-5) in a three-game home series at Jackie Robinson Stadium starting Friday night. While the Bruins won their last game, they’ve dropped three of their last four series and are 4-5 in weekend series overall.

None of those five series losses have been sweeps, however, meaning UCLA is still riding a 29-series sweepless streak. Finale wins against Washington, Stanford and Oregon have kept that streak alive, with junior right-hander Sean Mullen making the start in two of those and junior right-hander Jesse Bergin leading the way in the other.

Mullen is slated to start Saturday and Bergin on Sunday against Oregon State, and senior right-hander Zach Pettway will take the mound to open game one. Mullen is the only one of that trio with a sub-4.00 ERA, sitting at 2.72 on the season, while all three of the Beavers’ projected starters have ERAs between 3.00 and 3.20.

The Bruins’ staff ranks third in the Pac-12 in both ERA and strikeouts, but the Beavers’ top the conference in both categories. Right-hander Kevin Abel is a big reason why, as the former preseason All-American has bounced back from a series of injuries that held him out of the 2020 season to post a 3.08 ERA and 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

Abel has had control issues as of late though, allowing 6.8 walks per nine innings and never walking fewer than three batters in a start since the beginning of March. Abel’s Friday counterpart, Pettway, hasn’t been able to approach his 1.05 ERA from last season, but has only walked 1.6 batters per nine innings and boasts a 1.04 WHIP.

The opposing aces will take on the No. 2 and No. 3 offenses in the Pac-12 – UCLA’s 266 runs just edge out Oregon State’s 258 on the season.

With Selection Monday about five weeks away, the Bruins and Beavers sit at No. 32 and No. 27 in RPI, respectively. Battling up into the top 16 for a chance to host a regional would require a successful May for either team, and the winner of this weekend’s UCLA-Oregon State series may start the month on the right foot.

So for the Bruins, there’s a lot more on the line than avoiding a sweep.

First pitch for Friday’s opener is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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Sam Connon | Alumnus
Connon joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2021. He was the Sports editor for the 2019-2020 academic year, an assistant Sports editor for the 2018-2019 academic year and spent time on the football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, men's soccer, cross country, men's golf and women's golf beats, while also contributing movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment.
Connon joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2021. He was the Sports editor for the 2019-2020 academic year, an assistant Sports editor for the 2018-2019 academic year and spent time on the football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, men's soccer, cross country, men's golf and women's golf beats, while also contributing movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment.
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