April 30, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The No. 14 UCLA baseball team plays at Long Beach State (21-20) on Tuesday evening, opening a week in which the Bruins (28-12) will play four non-conference games. Freshman left-hander Grant Watson will start on the hill for UCLA at Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, May 1 - 6:30 p.m.
UCLA - Grant Watson, LHP, Fr. (7-1, 4.88)
Long Beach State - Matt Johnson, RHP, Sr. (1-3, 3.22)
LISTEN LIVE ONLINE (click here) | Radio Schedule
Each game of UCLA's remaining regular-season games will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at uclabruins.com. UCLA's John Ramey will have the call live from Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif., on Tuesday evening when the Bruins face Long Beach State. Live stats of the game will be available through GameTracker, which provides pitch-by-pitch updates of the game in progress on uclabruins.com.
UCLA AT LONG BEACH STATE
With just four weeks remaining in the regular season, UCLA will play four its of final seven non-conference games this week. The Bruins play at Long Beach State (Blair Field) on Tuesday evening before opening a three-game series against Purdue on Saturday. UCLA earned a 9-1 victory against Long Beach State on Tuesday, Feb. 28, in the only other meeting between the two schools this season. Jeff Gelalich went 2-for-4 with three runs and one RBI, while Pat Gallagher went 1-for-2 with a team-leading three RBI in that victory.
WATSON ON THE HILL
Freshman left-hander Grant Watson will make his 12th start on Tuesday, having gone 7-1 with a 4.88 ERA in 23 appearances (11 starts). He made two relief appearances against Stanford over the weekend. Watson has become UCLA's third pitcher in the last 10 years to make at least 11 starts and appear in over 20 games. He joins Garett Claypool (21 games, 12 starts in 2010) and Mike Kunes (27 games, 13 starts in 2002) in that unique category. Watson has gone 4-0 with a 3.41 ERA as the team's starting pitcher in all seven midweek games.
WEEKEND IN REVIEW
UCLA lost two of three games to Stanford at Jackie Robinson Stadium over the weekend, dropping to 12-9 in the competitive Pac-12 Conference. The Bruins and Cardinal posted very similar offensive numbers in the series. UCLA batted .250 with 23 hits, while Stanford hit at a .252 clip with 26 hits. Jeff Gelalich led UCLA's offense in the three-game series, going 5-for-10 with two runs and two RBI, while Cody Keefer went 5-for-12 (.417). UCLA is currently in third place in the Pac-12 standings, trailing first-place Oregon by two games.
UCLA's three outfielders, all juniors who hit left-handed, enter Tuesday's game batting above the .330 plateau. The trio has played extensively since arriving in Westwood in the fall of 2009. Jeff Gelalich has started all 40 games in right field, batting .382 with six home runs, seven doubles and 29 RBI. Beau Amaral has been UCLA's starting center field the last three seasons and is batting .331 with four homers, 31 RBI and a conference-best 47 runs. Cody Keefer has batted .369 with six doubles, 24 RBI and a .445-on base percentage in 39 games.
STEADY AT SHORTSTOP
Sophomore shortstop Pat Valaika leads the Pac-12 Conference with 137 assists, having started the Bruins' last 47 games at shortstop (dating back to 2011). Valaika has batted .268 with one home run and a team-leading 11 doubles, starting at shortstop in all 40 games this spring. The native of Valencia, Calif., has totaled nine multiple-hit games and five multiple-RBI efforts, featuring a career-high four RBI against Baylor on Feb. 26.
BEHIND THE PLATE
Junior catcher Tyler Heineman ranks second in the Pac-12 with a .389 batting average and leads the conference with a .494 on-base percentage. Heineman has tallied separate hitting streaks of 15 and 12 games this season. The resident of Pacific Palisades, Calif., has posted a team-leading .423 batting average in conference games. Heineman has made 33 starts behind the plate and five starts as the designated hitter.
Since the start of the 2010 season, UCLA has gone 47-23 in all road and neutral site contests. The Bruins have opened this season with an 11-3 record away from home, posting a 6-3 mark on the road in Pac-12 games. Last year, UCLA went 14-13 in road/neutral site games, while in 2010 the Bruins went 15-4 on the road and 7-3 at neutral sites. In conference action, UCLA has tallied a 26-10 road record since 2010.
Four Bruins rank among the top five in pitching appearances in the Pac-12. David Berg (27) and Ryan Deeter (25) are first and second, respectively, in that category. Grant Watson and Arizona State's Jake Barrett are tied for third in appearances (23). Scott Griggs ranks fifth in the conference in that category (22) and is second in the Pac-12 with nine saves. Freshman right-hander David Berg currently leads all Pac-12 pitchers with a 1.71 ERA and .174 opponent batting average, having pitched 42.0 innings (all in relief).
Junior right fielder Jeff Gelalich leads UCLA with six home runs and enters Tuesday's game at Long Beach State with a .382 batting average (fourth-highest in the Pac-12), 29 RBI and 37 runs. Gelalich leads the Pac-12 with 14 stolen bases. He has started all 40 games for the Bruins in right field and opened the season by reaching base safely in UCLA's first 25 contests. He has logged a career .320 batting average with 10 homers and 55 RBI.
Junior Trevor Brown enters Tuesday night's game batting .304 with a team-leading 33 RBI in 40 games. Brown has emerged the last three seasons as UCLA's most versatile position player. The former standout at Hart High School (Valencia, Calif.) can play behind the plate and at each of the four positions around the infield. He has made 17 career starts at catcher and 33 starts at first base this season, after having started 24 games at second base in 2011. In addition he has made seven career starts as UCLA's third baseman.
NAMED TO WATCH LISTS
Junior catcher Tyler Heineman has been named to the watch list for the Johnny Bench Award, presented annually to the nation's premier catcher. Heineman leads UCLA with a .389 batting average and has tallied one home run, six doubles, 20 RBI and 31 runs. Junior right-hander Scott Griggs has been selected to the midseason watch list for the Stopper of the Year Award, presented annually to the nation's top closer. Griggs has totaled nine saves, logging a 1.16 ERA, .078 opposing batting average, 38 strikeouts and 21 walks in 23.1 innings.
WEEKLY AWARD WINNERS
Through 11 weeks, UCLA has had six Pac-12 Player/Pitcher of the Week award selections. Beau Amaral (March 26, April 16) and Jeff Gelalich (Feb. 29, March 13) have twice captured Player of the Week honors. Adam Plutko earned Pitcher of the Week honors (March 13) after throwing a complete game shutout at Georgia (March 9). Grant Watson was named Pitcher of the Week (March 20) after logging two wins in three games.
UCLA's bullpen has gone 10-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 140.0 innings, combining for 120 relief appearances through the team's first 40 games. In fact, the team's relief corps has held the opposition to 12 runs (10 earned) and 48 hits through the last 24 games (5-2 record, 1.05 ERA, with a .169 batting average). In that 24-game span, Scott Griggs has pitched 12.0 scoreless innings, allowing three hits while logging 20 strikeouts and five walks.
BIG LEAGUE BALLPARKS
UCLA will play Washington at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, the night of Friday, May 11. That game will mark the Bruins' seventh contest played in a Major League Baseball stadium since the start of the 2009 season. UCLA played three games at Minute Maid Park (Houston) in 2009. The Bruins have played one game at Dodger Stadium each of the last three seasons (2010-2012). UCLA has gone 2-4 in those six games.