Bluejay Banter’s Tim Krueger is in Los Angeles covering the Jays in the NCAA Regionals, and files this report for White & Blue Review.
The positive vibe that the team had at the end of Friday night’s game versus UCLA carried over into Saturday, as the Jays hammered USD 8-2 to stay alive in the NCAA regional in Los Angeles. It was a solid day hitting up and down the line up, as not only were the Jays swinging the bats well but they also worked some counts to put further stress on the San Diego pitching staff.
The middle of the Jays line up all contributed clutch hits as the Jays broke this one open early. Shane Liska gave the Jays five strong innings and the bullpen closed the deal on San Diego who finished the season at 40-17. “We kind of got back to what we did last week (in the MVC Tournament),” Mike Gerber commented after the game. “We put some hits together and we got a couple of big two-out hits. That’s what we were able to do last weekend, but we weren’t able to capitalize on last night.”
What does Sunday hold for the Jays? The big question is can the hitting from today carry over to tomorrow? And also how deep in the game can Eric Mattingly go?
“Well, now we’re into a situation where we have to sell out for every game to continue to advance,” pitching coach Rob Smith told me after the game, “so tomorrow Erik Mattingly will start but we’ll have everybody that’s available ready to go.”
The Jays need him to get deep in the game to preserve the bullpen, as a win would mean the Jays would get another rematch with UCLA on Sunday night. Smith noted, “Ideally, Mattingly would get us six solid innings tomorrow so we only need to use two bullpen arms. Then we’ll need a Game Four starter, and would have our two other relievers to help (that starter) out.”
I like the Jays chances in the first game but can they beat the Bruins who will be well rested and have one of the deepest pitching staffs in college baseball? We shall see Sunday–it should be exciting.