Oregon St. Opens Series Against UCLA

Oregon St. ace Matt Boyd will take on UCLA's Adam Plutko tonight to start the Beavers' series against the Bruins. - (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

#6 Oregon St. (23-4, 5-1) at #10 UCLA (18-7, 6-3) / 6 PM / Jackie Robinson Stadium, Los angeles / Pac-12 Channel / KEJO 1240 AM & KPOJ 620 AM

Game Notes / Gametracker / No Live Stream

Oregon St. and UCLA (the highest ranked teams in the conference) begin a Pac-12 series that will be pivotal to both top 10 teams' rankings and conference title hopes. The Beavers are second in the Pac-12, 1 1/2 games behind Oregon, though they do have 3 conference games in hand on the front-flying Ducks. The Bruins are only 1/2 game further back, in third place.

The Beavers bounced back from dropping 2 of 3 last weekend at San Diego with a 7-5 win Tuesday night at Goss Stadium over Portland, while the Bruins, who also lost 2 of 3 last weekend, to Arizona St. in Tempe, dropped a 9-6 decision to visiting fourth ranked Fullerton St. in their Tuesday game.

California, Stanford, and Washington St. could all overhaul at least one of these teams, or potentially at least catch both, depending on how the weekend goes. So the stakes are high all around. Also, Oregon is visiting Arizona St. this weekend.

The Beavers have taken 2 of 3 from the Bruins in each of the last 2 years, including Josh Osich's no-hitter the last time Oregon St. visited UCLA. If the Beavers can win the weekend series, it will mark the first time they have ever won 3 consecutive series against the Bruins.

Oregon St. will start senior LHP Matt Boyd (6-0, 1.69 ERA), while UCLA will counter with junior RHP Adam Plutko (2-2, 3.45 ERA), their usual Friday night guy.

Boyd only had to work 5 innings in his last outing, Oregon St.'s 14-5 win over San Diego last Friday, to get the win. Plutko has had a tough time of late, losing both of his last 2 starts, 5-1 to California 2 weeks ago, and then 4-1 last Friday to the Sun Devils, a victim of a lack of run support.

The Bruins collectively are hitting just .265, contrasted with the Beavers' .287 team batting average. UCLA's opponents are hitting just .222, while Oregon St. has limited their opposition to .211.

The key to the game for both teams is likely to be capitalizing on what are likely to be scarce scoring opportunities.

Towards that end, Oregon St. head coach Pat Casey, who had his contract extended through the 2018 season this week, is going with his best defensive lineup possible sans Tyler Smith. Smith is on the trip this week, after missing the last 2 weeks with the after affects of being hit on the left hand by a pitch in the first San Francisco game, but is only partially cleared as yet. Smith is available to play defense, or pinch run, but hasn't been released to hit.

Tonight's lineup:

Ryan Barnes-RF
Andy Peterson-SS
Michael Conforto-LF
Dylan Davis-DH
Danny Hayes-1B
Jake Rodriguez-C
Kavin Keyes-2B
Jerad Casper-3B
Jeff Hendrix-CF

There's no live stream for the game, and none of the games are scheduled to be on the Pac-12 channel. That's a real shame, given the standing nationally of the teams involved.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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