Olivia Simons, Daily Bruin reporter
In the countdown to the postseason, the Bruins will take on the Gauchos for a Southern California series.
No. 23 UCLA baseball (28-15, 14-10 Pac-12) will take on UC Santa Barbara (30-16, 21-11 Big West) for a split series this weekend at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Friday and Sunday with a Saturday contest at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. The opening game will begin the 10-game countdown to the end of the season for the Bruins, with Selection Monday less than three weeks away.
Following a Tuesday victory that put UCLA over the .500 mark on the road for the first time this year, senior outfielder Pat Caulfield said the Bruins’ road success will aid them going into the rest of the season.
“It’s easy to win games at home, so if you win road games, that’s the biggest testament to a good team,” Caulfield said. “(Tuesday) just shows we’re turning it around on that end. (It) gives us a little more confidence as we go into the last three weeks.”
The Bruins last faced the Gauchos in March 2020, when UCLA fell 8-5 in its only midweek loss since the start of 2019. The blue and gold have not won a game against its fellow UC school in eight years, going 0-3-1 in standalone contests since a 12-3 win in 2013.
“Santa Barbara’s very good,” said coach John Savage. “There’s not a whole lot of teams in the country that have 30 wins, so that catches your attention right away. They’ve played very well in the Big West Conference, and they’re a very good program.”
The Bruins will stick to their regular rotation of senior right-hander Zach Pettway and junior right-handers Sean Mullen and Jesse Bergin over the weekend but will likely be without their regular shortstop for the second consecutive weekend.
Junior Matt McLain started in all of UCLA’s first 39 games of the season at short before he suffered a right thumb fracture in practice before its series against Washington State and will likely not be ready to return to play against UCSB.
With or without the All-American, first pitch against the Gauchos will be at 6 p.m. on Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Track and Field
Ricardo Garcia, Daily Bruin contributor
After losing the second half of their season to COVID-19 shutdowns a year ago, the Bruins are quickly approaching the finish line.
UCLA track and field begins its postseason at the Pac-12 championships Friday, and it will not need to travel far. The three-day meet will take place at Cromwell Field and Loker Stadium at USC this weekend.
In the last Pac-12 championship meet in 2019, the men took second place while the women finished in eighth.
Despite the lopsided loss to USC in the regular-season finale, redshirt junior sprinter Shae Anderson said she feels confident in her team’s abilities heading into the postseason.
“I’m very excited for the (4×400 meter) because we didn’t run our A team, it was just me,” Anderson said. “I’m really excited to see what we all can do when we let our bodies recover and get into peak shape.”
Anderson ran the second-fastest time in the 400 meter in the nation against USC and is no stranger to the 4×400 meter relay, as she helped Oregon take second place in the event at the 2018 edition of the meet.
Redshirt junior thrower Alyssa Wilson, who secured three event wins against USC and had her start to the season delayed by COVID-19, also said she was confident about her team’s ability to perform this weekend.
“We’re locked and loaded,” Wilson said. “We can do some damage because we have a young sprinter group.”
Assistant coach John Frazier, who is in his 32nd year of coaching, reflected on what throwing has meant to him throughout his career.
“(Track and field is) not football or basketball where you’re going to sign a multi-million dollar contract,” Frazier said. “Instead, you have a passion for and you enjoy watching people improve.”