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UCLA baseball enters Dodger Stadium classic amidst ‘hell week’ schedule

Graduate student right-hander Rashad Ruff pitches at Jackie Robinson Stadium. (Darlene Sanzon/Daily Bruin)

Sport


Michigan
Friday, 4 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
UCLA Live Stream-2
San Diego
Saturday, 2 p.m.

Jackie Robinson Stadium
UCLA Live Stream-2
UC Irvine
Sunday, 3 p.m.

Dodger Stadium
Radio only

By Noah Massey

March 1, 2024 10:40 a.m.

Coach John Savage acknowledged the difficulties of this week’s schedule after taking down Long Beach State in 10 innings Wednesday.

“This is hell week,” Savage said. “This is the five-game hell week.”

After managing back-to-back comeback wins Tuesday and Wednesday, UCLA baseball (5-3) will head into the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic on Friday through Sunday to face Michigan (3-6), San Diego (4-4) and UC Irvine (6-0), respectively.

After a three-game series last weekend where UCLA got swept by TCU, the Bruins were resilient in midweek games against Nevada and Long Beach State, battling back from a four-run deficit and a seven-run deficit to push their record back above .500.

By the end of the two-week span, UCLA will have played eight games over 10 days against six different teams, a total that requires plenty of preparation, Savage said.

“It’s a lot of video, a lot of reports, pitching reports, hitters reports,” Savage said. “Just got to stay on top of things.”

Playing eight games in such a short time also takes a toll on the players, especially the pitching staff.

Due to the close nature of both midweek games, right-handers senior Caedon Kottinger, junior Nate Leibold, sophomore Cody Delvecchio and graduate student Rashad Ruff were used in both contests.

Savage said that he was happy that the game ended when it did Wednesday to help save some of his pitching.

“I’m just glad that game got over with because I didn’t want to throw Ruff anymore,” Savage said. “He threw 30 pitches (Wednesday), he threw eighteen last night (Tuesday).”

The Bruins will kick off this upcoming weekend by playing the first two games of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic at home on Friday and Saturday against Michigan and San Diego. The Bruins will then finish the weekend at Dodger Stadium against UC Irvine on Sunday.

Michigan, who played UCLA last year, only has wins against Western Michigan and USC this season. San Diego, on the other hand, hasn’t played UCLA since 2017.

Irvine has begun its season undefeated and beat the Bruins in a fall scrimmage, sophomore center fielder Payton Brennan said.

“We get to play against UCI (UC Irvine), who we played in the fall,” Brennan said. “It didn’t go too hot. We need to come back and bounce back and see what we can do against them.”

With some midweek success, the Bruins will attempt to jumpstart a winning streak with more victories in the upcoming weekend.

“I’m excited,” Ruff said. “It’s a lot of games this week. Five games. But we all want to be here. We’re all ready to play.”

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Noah Massey
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