Last two national champs face off at Hi Corbett
In a battle between the last two College World Series champions, Arizona baseball returns home to Hi Corbett Field to host No. 22 UCLA in a three-game series starting Friday at 7 p.m.
All games will be nationally televised live, with Friday and Sunday’s contests being broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks and Saturday’s game on ESPNU.
The probable starting pitchers are:
— Friday, 7 p.m.
UA: senior right-hander James Farris (4-3, 4.31 ERA). UCLA: sophomore right-hander James Kaprielian (4-3, 2.48).
— Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
UA: Sophomore right-hander Cody Hamlin, RHP (4-2, 2.31). UCLA: Junior left-hander Grant Watson (4-3, 2.91).
Starter James Farris struck out six Utah players on Sunday to achieve his 200th career strikeout. Farris will start Friday against defending national champion UCLA.
— Sunday, 4 p.m.
UA: Sophomore right-hander Tyger Talley (1-0, 3.99). UCLA: Sophomore right-hander Cody Poteet (2-2, 4.31).
The Wildcats (15-19, 4-7 Pac-12) have a three-game winning streak — tied for the team’s longest victory streak this year.
UCLA (18-13, 6-3), on the other hand, has lost three in a row.
Junior reliever Tyler Parmenter said that he thinks UCLA’s skid will make the Bruins even more dangerous.
“They’ll be even more ready to play this weekend,” Parmenter said. “They’re the defending national champions and coming off three losses. I’m just looking forward to our team going out there and competing against a great team.”
Arizona’s offense has been a big question mark this year.
“We’ve been able to hit the ball decently,” junior outfielder Joseph Maggi said, “but we haven’t really been able to get those two-out hits and come out big yet this year. That’s what we’re really trying to work on going into this weekend.”
While a sweep of the Bruins would propel Arizona to a .500 conference record, the UA hasn’t swept UCLA since 2005, when it did so in Los Angeles. Ever since, the Bruins have won the past eight conference series.
Last year, UCLA earned a sweep at home after outscoring the Wildcats 29-8 over three games. It was the first time since 2000 that the Bruins had swept Arizona in the season series.
The Bruins are in possession of the second-lowest ERA (2.80) in the league.
This year, the Bruins have held opponents to a .220 batting average, the third lowest in the conference. In addition, they have allowed the fourth-fewest amount of hits (224) and fewest walks (72) in the Pac-12.
“We need to practice getting on top of the ball and shortening our strokes,” Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. “They’ve got very good pitching, and we need to stay away from the lazy fly balls.
We’re not a power hitting team, and I hope we’re starting to gather that. It has to come down to, ‘Do you want to hit .340 with five RBI or .280 with 15 RBI?’’
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17