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Bruins in Paris

With Schrier injured, UCLA baseball prepares to play series against USC

Junior right-hander Caedon Kottinger exhales while delivering a pitch. Kottinger recorded a career-high 2.2 innings while striking out three in Tuesday’s contest. (Felicia Keller/Daily Bruin)

By Shane Smith

April 20, 2023 9:58 p.m.

This weekend marks another chapter in one of the most historic rivalries in college sports.

No. 22 UCLA baseball (21-11-1, 8-5-1 Pac-12) is set to take on USC (22-13-1, 9-6) in a three-game series Friday to Sunday at Dedeaux Field. The Bruins will have the chance to become the first team to win a series at USC this year, but are 4-7 on the road this season and in danger of their first losing road record since 2016.

Sophomore left-hander Ethan Flanagan talked about the atmosphere that comes with playing against UCLA’s biggest rival.

“Everyone’s geared up for USC,” Flanagan said. “Big rivalry game, and it’s going to be nice getting back to that Pac-12 atmosphere. They’re obviously a good team, having a good year, and we’re looking to upset that and go win a series.”

USC’s nation-leading 12 NCAA titles in baseball may tip the historical scales of the rivalry in its favor, but the Bruins have gotten the better of the Trojans in recent memory, winning 15 of the last 20 matchups dating back to 2017. UCLA won the most recent game between the two earlier this season at the Southern California College Baseball Classic, a 5-3 win in which the Bruins never trailed.

Despite his team’s recent success against the Trojans, coach John Savage said March’s victory doesn’t have much of an impact on the weekend.

“That game doesn’t mean anything,” Savage said. “They’re a different team than they were and we’re a different team than we were at that time, clearly. So we got a lot of work to do.”

Indeed, these Bruins are a different team than they were in the beginning of March, largely because of health issues. While Savage’s lineup card should once again include senior catcher Darius Perry after a night off in Tuesday’s loss to UC Irvine, the coach will have to make do this weekend without sophomore shortstop and preseason All-American Cody Schrier.

Schrier – currently dealing with a left shoulder issue, according to Savage – has been an iron man for the Bruins up until missing his first game of the season against the Anteaters on Tuesday. Savage said he expects an update on Schrier’s condition in the coming days.

Junior right-hander Caedon Kottinger – who set career highs in innings pitched and strikeouts in 2.2 shutout innings Tuesday – said the rivalry brings added buzz regardless of the teams’ conditions.

“There’s definitely going to be some extra energy and some extra motivation going into this weekend,” Kottinger said. “USC is playing really well this year and it’s always a competitive series no matter how good or bad the teams are doing, healthy or injured.”

The Bruins currently sit third in the Pac-12 standings, just ahead of USC and No. 23 Oregon, and three wins behind both No. 9 Stanford and No. 19 Arizona State. With this weekend’s series against USC and a pair of upcoming series against Stanford and Arizona State, UCLA will have the chance to make up ground and top the Pac-12 season standings for the first time since 2019.

Savage emphasized that his current focus is on conference play, USC or otherwise.

“I just look at it as another Pac-12 series,” Savage said. “I’ve always looked at every series the same in the Pac-12. You’ve got to get back into conference play and got to start playing well in conference. That’s how I look at it.”

The action at Dedeaux Field is set to begin Friday at 7 p.m.

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Shane Smith | Sports contributor
Smith is currently a contributor on the beach volleyball beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's soccer beat.
Smith is currently a contributor on the beach volleyball beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's soccer beat.
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