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Baseball looks to give Bruins first series loss of the season

After a spectacular outing against the No. 14 California Bears on Tuesday, the Stanford baseball team (17-21, Pac-12 4-11) looks to take its third conference series over the No. 3 UCLA Bruins (29-8, 14-4) this weekend.

Junior Drew Jackson (above) has been one of Stanford's offensive weapons in conference play. He notches a .301 batting average, the second-best on the team. (FRANK CHEN/Stanfordphoto.com)
Junior Drew Jackson (above) has been one of Stanford’s offensive weapons in conference play. He notches a .301 batting average, the second-best on the team. (FRANK CHEN/Stanfordphoto.com)

The Bruins are currently first in the Pac-12 conference and have not lost a series all season. UCLA currently holds a 10-2 road record, but the Cardinal hold the all-time series wins 196-144 over the Bruins.  The Bruins have not taken a weekend series from the Cardinal since 2010, despite being ranked in the Top 25 the past five years.

UCLA took two out of three games from California this past weekend in comeback fashion. After losing the series opener to the Bears, the Bruins won the remaining two games. Freshman right-handed Griffin Canning, Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year candidate junior James Kaprielian and senior lefty Grant Watson have seen the lion’s share of innings on the mound for the Bruins during conference play, averaging a 2.17 ERA between the trio. To complement the already powerful pitching staff, senior David Berg hasn’t allowed a run over 22 innings of PAC-12 play.

With leading batter Mikey Diekroeger still out with a shoulder injury, the Stanford offense will continue to utilize Drew Jackson, Matt Winaker, Tommy Edman and Zach Hoffpauir, who have led the Cardinal at the plate in conference play. Recipients of the last two Pac-12 Player of the Week awards, Jackson and Hoffpauir will provide sufficient power to get runs on the board, as the duo has already raised the team batting average from .237 to .252.

However, the key for the Cardinal this weekend will be their pitching staff.  With Stanford ace Cal Quantrill out for the season, Stanford has struggled on the mound, posting a 4.95 staff ERA (10th in Pac-12 play). Chris Castellanos threw seven hitless innings in Tuesday’s game against the Bears, but Brett Hanewich, Tyler Thorne and Logan James have pitched the majority of innings during conference play.  With five of the Bruins’ starting line-up hitting over .300, the bullpen will have to limit UCLA’s chances to score.

The first pitch of the three-game series is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Klein Field in Sunken Diamond. The games on Friday and Sunday will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks, and Saturday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Contact Erin Ashby at eashby ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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