Baseball looks to enter the win column

The U baseball team (0-6) heads west this weekend in hopes of a victory when it faces UCLA in a three-game series.

It won’t be easy, to say the least.

“They will have great athletes,” U coach Bill Kinneberg said. “They always do. UCLA will be the best team we’ve played to this point.”

The Bruins are on a four-game winning streak and are 6-3 on the year. Their main strength is clearly their pitching.

With five pitchers who have ERAs less than 3.00, the team can flat out shut opposing teams offenses down.

The three starters projected to take the mound for UCLA all have ERAs in the 2s.

Hector Ambriz, the staff ace, is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA. Bryan Beck is also 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA and Brant Rustich will pitch the final game of the series and is 1-0 on the season with a 2.08 ERA.

Contrast the Bruin pitching numbers with the Ute starting pitchers.

The Utes will most probably send Jason Price to the hill in game one. Price is 0-1 and has a gaudy 6.30 ERA.

Chad Cullers, who will pitch game two, has not had a decision, but has an ERA of 8.31.

Matt Crockett will pitch the final game and is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA.

The great UCLA pitching is complemented by solid hitting. During the Bruins’ four-game winning streak, they have outscored their opponents 35-10.

In order for the Utes to win, they will have to play an outstanding game, but Kinneberg just wants to take it step by step.

“We just need to put together one complete, nine-inning game,” Kinneberg said. “The first thing we need to do to start improving is to play better defense. We’re not playing to our capability at all, defensively.”

The other main issue that the Utes need to address is getting hits with runners in scoring position.

“The good thing is we are still putting ourselves in a position to win games, even though a couple of the scores don’t indicate that,” Kinneberg said. “We’re just not getting key hits and we’re leaving too many people on base. We need to start getting some extra base hits. We need to drive the ball more.”

The last time the Utes played the Bruins was in 2002. UCLA won that series 2-0.

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