April 20, 2007
Los Angeles - The UCLA baseball team has postponed its Friday evening contest against Cal State Northridge due to rain and will play a doubleheader (two nine-inning games) against the Matadors on Saturday at 1 p.m. The second game of the doubleheader will begin shortly after the conclusion of game one.
The Bruins enter a stretch of three-straight home weekends beginning with Saturday's 1 p.m. doubleheader against Cal State Northridge. Senior Tyson Brummett hopes to extend the Bruins' four-game win streak when he takes the hill Saturday afternoon. The Matadors have compiled a 13-25 record and a 1-8 mark in the Big West Conference. Both teams last met in 2005, when Cal State Northridge defeated UCLA in two of three contests.
In the second game on Saturday, Bruin left-hander Tim Murphy makes his fourth-consecutive weekend start. The UCLA athletics department will be giving away UCLA baseball t-shirts to the first 500 youngsters in attendance on Saturday. The Bruins and Matadors conclude their three-game set on Sunday at 1 p.m.
As of late, the Bruins have extended and broken several remarkable streaks. Not only has UCLA won 11 of its last 13 games - the best such 13-game stretch since 2000 - but the Bruins have also began their Pac-10 schedule with an 8-1 record, UCLA's best conference start in the modern era through the first nine games.
UCLA has won six-consecutive road games for the first time since 1997 and has been victorious in each of its last six conference road games for the first time since 1969. The baseball program's two trips to the College World Series came in each of those two seasons (1997 and 1969).
The autograph session scheduled to take place after Saturday's game has been moved to the conclusion of Sunday's series finale.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Saturday - UCLA, Tyson Brummett (RHP) vs. CSUN, Bobby Paschal (LHP)
Saturday - UCLA, Tim Murphy (LHP) vs. CSUN, Joe Rocchio (RHP)
Sunday - UCLA, Gavin Brooks (LHP) vs. CSUN, Edwin Quirarte (RHP)
Cody Decker earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career after hitting .538 at USC last weekend. Decker has tallied a .421 batting average in Pac-10 play, leads the Bruins with nine home runs and is tied with for the team lead in RBI (35). Last weekend, he blasted a home run in each of UCLA's three wins at USC. Sunday afternoon, Decker gave the Bruins a lift when he belted a grand slam to center, extending UCLA's lead to 11-6. Through the last 13 games, Decker leads UCLA with a .393 average and has collected eight home runs and 30 RBI.
Senior right-hander Tyson Brummett has embraced the role of staff ace, totaling a 2.81 ERA in 12 appearances (10 starts) this season. Brummett has struck out 69 hitters and issued just 14 walks through 80.0 innings. The Salem, Utah, native has thrown four complete games and picked up the victory in each of his last three series-opening starts. Brummett carries a 6-4 record into Saturday afternoon's series-opener game against Cal State Northridge, a Big West opponent of which he has never faced.
THE COMEBACK KIDS
The Bruins erased three four-run leads in Saturday's 7-6 victory at USC and battled back from a four-run deficit Sunday afternoon at Dedeaux Field. Saturday, UCLA trailed 4-0 after two, 5-1 after five and 6-2 after six innings. The Bruins used two runs in the seventh and a three-run rally in the ninth to outlast USC, 7-6. The following afternoon, the Trojans led 4-0 after three innings before UCLA added one run or more in each of the remaining six frames to defeat USC, 12-9.
With runners at second and third and the Bruins trailing 6-4 Saturday, down to their last strike in the ninth inning, Brandon Crawford lined a base-hit to left field on an 0-and-2 count to tie the ballgame, 6-6, against USC. The sophomore shortstop scored from second base on the next at-bat when Cody Decker singled to first base. Crawford leads UCLA in multiple offensive categories, including a .362 average, 138 at-bats, 37 runs, 50 hits, 11 doubles, two triples and 80 total bases.
HE'S A PAC-10 GUY
Catcher Ryan Babineau has excelled in Pac-10 play, not only in 2007 but also in 2006. The sophomore backstop from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., leads UCLA with a .455 average (15-for-33) in Pac-10 play. Babineau has totaled four home runs, two doubles, 12 runs and 11 RBI in conference action. Last season, he tallied a .351 average (26-for-74) with three home runs, three doubles, 11 runs and 13 RBI in Pac-10 games before earning Freshman All-America honors from Baseball America.
According to Boyd's World, a national strength of schedule ranking service, UCLA faces the third-most difficult schedule in the nation this season. The Bruins play 19 games against teams currently ranked in Baseball America's top-25 poll. Likewise, 50 of UCLA's 56 regular-season games are against teams either ranked in or receiving votes in Collegiate Baseball's preseason "Fabulous 40" poll. Following last weekend's three-game sweep of USC, Collegiate Baseball has ranked UCLA No. 24 in the nation.
ON DECK - UC RIVERSIDE, ARIZONA
UCLA plays at UC Riverside next Tuesday before hosting Arizona in a three-game series from April 27-29. The Bruins defeated UC Riverside, 3-2, at home on Tuesday, Feb. 13. Last season, the Bruins won the final two of three games at Arizona (April 13-15). UCLA and Arizona are tied for first in the Pac-10 Conference with identical 8-1 records.
BEST PAC-10 STARTS
The Bruins have never started with an 8-1 record or better through their first nine conference games in the modern era. After starting 5-0 in the Pac-10 over two weeks ago, UCLA was off to its best conference start since 1977, when the Bruins began their Pac-8 schedule with a 5-0 mark before ending the season 10-8 in the conference. UCLA's 1967 squad began its AAWU slate with a 6-0 record.
The Bruins made history on Sunday, March 25 against Pacific. Trailing 8-1 in the eighth, UCLA posted a school-record 14-run inning to defeat the Tigers, 15-8. Sophomore Cody Decker inititated the Bruins' heroics with a grand slam and finished with a career-high five RBI. UCLA had previously scored 13 runs in one inning - versus Winthrop on Feb. 4, 2007 and against Arizona State on Feb. 28, 1997.
MAKING MORE HISTORY
One weekend after the series win against Pacific, UCLA became the first team to sweep Stanford at Sunken Diamond in a three-game regular-season series since Arizona State accomplished the feat in 1997. Stanford had not been swept at home in its previous 71 home series. UCLA had not swept the Cardinal on the road since 1991 and had not swept a series against Stanford since 1997.
Freshman right-hander Garett Claypool pitched five scoreless innings Tuesday evening to lead UCLA past No. 11 Pepperdine, 6-2. In his fourth collegiate start (all on Tuesday nights), Claypool allowed three hits and registered three strikeouts. Claypool has tallied a 1.62 ERA in his four starts this season, limiting the opposition to three earned runs and 11 hits in 16.2 innings.
Sophomores Brandon Crawford and Jermaine Curtis have excelled under the lights in 2007. Through 18 night games, Crawford has posted a .388 batting average (26-for-67) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, 14 runs scored and 15 RBI. Curtis is hitting .409 (9-for-22) with nine RBI at night. Freshman right-hander Garett Claypool has allowed three runs off nine hits through 20.2 innings at night, recording 19 strikeouts, four walks and a 1.31 ERA.
BRUINS DIG THE LONG BALL
After having tallied just eight home runs through the first 22 games, UCLA has crushed 20 home runs through the last 13 games. In that 13-game span, Cody Decker has blasted eight long balls and Ryan Babineau has belted four round-trippers. Both Decker and Babineau have registered one multi-home run game. Decker had two home runs in UCLA's 16-11 win at Stanford (March 31), and Babineau smacked two home runs in the Bruins' 11-2 rout of Washington (April 6).
WORTH EVERY PENNY
Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup since opening day and currently boasts a .328 batting average, the fourth-highest mark on the team. The La Cañada, Calif., native has been a great asset to the team as a starter and coming off the bench. Hitting 3-for-5 as a pinch-hitter, Penniall has totaled 21 hits, 10 runs, eight RBI, 24 total bases and four stolen bases in 22 games (15 starts).
BACK IN THE LINEUP
Sophomore Jermaine Curtis returned to the lineup at Stanford (March 30) after missing the first 24 games. Curtis was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the winter quarter. Curtis had an impressive season debut for the Bruins, hitting 2-for-5 with a career-high four RBI in UCLA's 8-2 series-opening win at Stanford. With the Fontana, Calif., resident in the Bruins' lineup, UCLA has posted a 9-2 record.
BIG LEAGUE BRUINS
When Major League Baseball kicked off its season April 2, eight former UCLA ballplayers earned spots on a major league roster. Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Eric Byrnes (Arizona), Jeff Conine (Cincinnati), Troy Glaus (Toronto), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Adam Melhuse (Oakland), Dave Roberts (San Francisco) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia) entered the 2007 season on their teams' respective 25-man opening day roster.
Sophomore Blair Dunlap and freshman Jeff Rapoport are unavailable to play due to shoulder injuries. Senior Nolan Rouse (arm) and Tim Stewart (hand) are also unavailable to play this week.
PAC-10 COACHES PICK UCLA FOURTH
UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches poll. The Bruins were picked to finish behind Arizona State, Oregon State, and Stanford, respectively. Last season, UCLA was selected eighth in the preseason poll and finished third in the Pac-10 with a 13-10 conference mark (33-25 overall).
A LOOK BACK IN THE PAC
One year ago, Jermaine Curtis led UCLA with a .390 batting average in Pac-10 play. The Fontana, Calif., resident collected 14 runs, three doubles, two triples and 13 RBI. Ryan Babineau posted a .351 average in Pac-10 action, starting all 23 games at catcher. UCLA's Hector Ambriz, Babineau and Dave Huff earned 2006 All-Pac-10 honors. Curtis, Brandon Crawford and Paul Oseguera captured All-Pac 10 Honorable Mention accolades.
Baseball America selected UCLA as its preseason pick to win the Pac-10 title. B.A. projected UCLA to join Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was selected to its preseason All-Pac-10 Team, and right-handed pitcher Charles Brewer was listed as the Pac-10's fifth-best newcomer. The magazine projected Brant Rustich as the Pac-10's ninth-best pro prospect (2007). In its ranking of "best tools" in the Pac-10, Baseball America named Crawford as the "best athlete," "best defensive shortstop" and infielder with the "best arm." Ryan Babineau was listed as the catcher with the "best arm," Jermaine Curtis as "best defensive third baseman," right-hander Tyson Brummett with the "best changeup" and outfielder Jeff Rapoport as the "fastest runner."
WALLACE WATCH LIST
Sophomore Brandon Crawford was named to the 2007 Wallace Watch List by the College Baseball Foundation in November. The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. The list of 148 ballplayers will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May. The selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals.
Playing a road schedule that has featured trips to Miami, Ole Miss, San Diego State, Stanford and USC the Bruins have traveled roughly 10,554 miles this season, round trips included. UCLA played at the University of Miami (2,744 mi.) in the second weekend of the season, traveled for a game at Long Beach State (35 mi.) and Cal State Fullerton (42 mi.), spent back-to-back weekends at Ole Miss (1,900 mi.) and San Diego State (135 mi.), opened Pac-10 play at Stanford (410 mi.) and drove to play USC (12 mi.). UCLA's remaining road slate includes trips to Arizona State and Washington State and Tuesday night games at UC Riverside, UC Irvine and Pepperdine.
CRAWFO-RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Sophomore Brandon Crawford spent his summer playing for the U.S. National Team and helped lead Team USA to the FISU (International University Sports Federation) World Championship after the club posted a 28-2-1 overall mark. Crawford played in 23 games, starting 10, and hit .257 (9-for-35). He collected two doubles, six RBI, seven runs, three walks and one stolen base.
STAYING IN THE GOLDEN STATE
The Bruins will play their next 13 games in California (10 home, 3 road) after having played their previous 17 in the Golden State. UCLA will play Pepperdine (1), Cal State Northridge (3), Arizona (3) and California (3). In-state road games will include UC Riverside (1), UC Irvine (1) and Pepperdine (1). The Bruins will not leave California until they play at Arizona State from May 11-13. UCLA will hit the road for consecutive weekends when playing at Arizona State and Washington State.
UCLA has not played any extra-inning games this season. In 2006, the Bruins won two of three extra-inning contests. The Bruins defeated Washington, 3-2, in 11 innings and topped Arizona State, 11-10, in 10 innings. Washington State edged UCLA, 4-3 in 10 frames. Under head coach John Savage, the Bruins have compiled a 4-3 record in extra-inning games.
JANSSEN BOLSTERS JAYS' BULLPEN
Former UCLA right-hander Casey Janssen earned a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen. In six relief outings, Janssen has limited opponents to two runs off seven hits while striking out two (through Tuesday, April 17). The former Bruin earned his first major league save on April 8, striking out one without allowing a hit in 2.0 scoreless innings.
ON THE FARM
Five former Bruins were rated as the top prospects in their respective MLB organizations. Dave Huff, last season's ace, has been ranked the No. 10 prospect in Cleveland's organization. Hector Ambriz, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2003, 2005-06), has been tabbed the No. 22 prospect in Arizona's farm system. Wes Whisler, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2002-04), is rated the No. 29 prospect in the Chicago White Sox organzation. Ben Francisco (2001-02) and Paul Oseguera (2005-06) have each earned honorable mention prospect accolades (Cleveland and San Francisco, respectively).