After a strong 2-1 start to the season in the Atlanta Challenge, the Yellow Jackets’ next test go pushed back with the postponement of the midweek Georgia Southern game. Now, the Yellow Jackets will face one of the toughest teams they will face all season in the UCLA Bruins.
Coming into the season, the Bruins were ranked in the top 7 by pretty much every major outlet, with some ranking the Bruins at No. 3, and for good reason.
With a young squad last season, the Bruins are bringing back a ton of the talent that carried them to the Long Beach Regional last season, but it’s not all good news for UCLA. Gone from that team is at least one pretty important starter: the Bruins’ Friday starter Jake Bird, who was a fifth-round pick by the Colorado Rockies.
Last season, Bird pitched 104 innings for the Bruins, finishing 7-4 with a 1.99 ERA and 59 strikeouts.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, UCLA had a very good freshman starter from last year who has moved his way into the Friday stater spot in the form of Zach Pettway. As a freshman, Pettway pitched 89.2 innings, going 8-4 while striking out a team-high 74. Pettway was killed by the long ball, though. Where Bird only gave up three home runs, Pettway gave up a whopping 14. For reference, no other Bruins pitcher surrendered more than five.
Offensively, the Bruins pack a serious punch. The three best hitters of the bunch were all sophomores last season as well: first baseman Michael Toglia (.330/.437/.581), second baseman Chase Strumpf (.357/.477/.628) and outfielder Jeremy Ydens (.362/..431/.573).
On top of that, the Bruins also hit for some solid power too. Toglia and Strumpf both had double-digit home runs last season and more than 50 RBI.
In the first week of play, the Bruins easily ran the table, sweeping St. Johns in opening weekend, including winning by a combined score of 20-1 in the final two games of the series, and steamrolling Loyola Marymount 5-0 Tuesday night.
Game 1 (Friday, 4:00 p.m.): RHP Xzavion Curry (1-0) vs. RHP Zach Pettway (0-0)
Game 2 (Saturday, 2:00 p.m.): LHP Connor Thomas (0-0) vs. RHP Jack Ralston (1-0)
Game 3 (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.): LHP Brant Hurter (0-0) vs. RHP Jesse Bergin (1-0)
Georgia Tech is going to have its hands full this weekend. The Bruins are dominant in nearly every single phase of the game, and the Jackets are still trying to figure out what exactly it is that they’re good at. It’s tough for me to say, but I don’t hold out too much hope for Beesball this weekend. The Jackets’ best opportunity will be Saturday when Connor Thomas starts. As a starter, he gives the Jackets the best opportunity to win.
How do you think Beesball does this weekend?