April 27, 2009
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA baseball team faces Long Beach State for the first time this season when the two teams meet at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Tuesday evening. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m., and admission for both adults and children costs just two dollars as part of UCLA's ongoing "Two-Dollar Tuesday" promotion. The Bruins (19-21) have won nine of their last 13 games entering Tuesday's game against the 49ers (20-19).
SERIES VS. LONG BEACH STATE: UCLA leads, 52-37
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: Long Beach State, three wins
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, April 28 - 6 p.m.
LBSU - Jeff Lease, LHP, So. (2-1, 5.86)
UCLA - Garett Claypool, RHP, Jr. (0-1, 5.00)
- UCLA has won nine of its last 13 contests, including five of its last six Pac-10 Conference games.
- At the plate, UCLA has been led by first baseman Cody Decker's team-best 15 home runs and 37 RBI.
- Blair Dunlap has started all 40 games in center field and is batting .282 with a team-high 14 doubles.
- Right-hander Trevor Bauer leads all Bruin pitchers with six wins, a 2.60 ERA and 69.1 innings pitched.
- UCLA's pitching staff ranks second in the Pac-10 with 378 strikeouts, five behind Arizona State's 383 total.
- Following Tuesday's game against Long Beach State, the Bruins will play three at Oregon this weekend.
The Bruins will send junior right-hander Garett Claypool to the hill against the 49ers on Tuesday. Last season, Long Beach State swept a three-game series against the Bruins in two days. After winning the series opener at UCLA (March 21), Long Beach State won a pair of games the next day at Blair Field. The two schools will play each other for the second and final time this season on Tuesday, May 12, when Long Beach State returns to Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Bruins' pitching staff has posted a 4.55 ERA through the season's first 40 games, but the unit has come on especially strong the past three weeks. Through UCLA's last 12 games, the Bruins have logged a 4.06 team ERA, collecting 114 strikeouts and 32 walks in 106.1 innings. UCLA's three weekend starters - Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer and Charles Brewer - are the team's top three leaders in ERA, strikeouts and innings. The bullpen has logged 11 saves in 19 wins, as Gavin Brooks leads the relief corps with seven saves in 18 appearances.
PROVIDING THE POWER
A trio of veteran hitters in UCLA's lineup has helped power the Bruins this season. First baseman Cody Decker leads the Bruins with 15 homers and a .667 slugging percentage, while center fielder Blair Dunlap and third baseman Casey Haerther have each belted six round-trippers. Dunlap leads UCLA with 14 doubles and ranks second behind Decker with a .491 slugging percentage and 28 RBI. Justin Uribe (3 HR), Gabe Cohen (2 HR) and Eddie Murray (2 HR) are the three other players to have connected for more than one home run this spring.
Right-hander Trevor Bauer has gone 4-0 in Pac-10 play, posting a 2.75 ERA in conference action. He leads the Bruins with a 2.60 ERA in 69.1 innings. The freshman from Valencia, Calif., has limited the opposition to a .226 batting average, compiling 65 strikeouts and 15 walks. Bauer began the season pitching out of the bullpen before emerging as a midweek starter (March 11) and entering the weekend starting rotation (April 5). As a starting pitcher, he has gone 4-0 with a 2.68 ERA, 40 strikeouts and seven walks in 43.2 innings. Bauer has twice earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors in his freshman campaign.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Right-hander Gerrit Cole has earned the role as UCLA's Friday night starter, as he leads the Bruins with 78 strikeouts in 54.0 innings (13.0 K/9 IP average). The former standout pitcher at Orange Lutheran High School has gone 4-3 in 10 starts, registering a 3.99 ERA and .197 opponent batting average, tops on the Bruins' staff. Two weeks ago, Cole limited Washington (April 17) to one hit and two unearned runs in eight innings, logging a career-high 13 strikeouts in a 4-2 UCLA victory. Last month, he notched 12 strikeouts in five innings at East Carolina (March 13), before a rain delay forced the right-hander out of the contest.
Senior first baseman Cody Decker enters Tuesday's game against Long Beach State leading the Bruins with 15 home runs and 37 RBI. He belted one homer in each of the team's first three games last week, finishing the four-game week batting .467 (7-for-15) with three home runs, five RBI and four runs. With his 41st career home run on Saturday, Decker moved into sole possession of eighth place on UCLA's all-time home runs list, surpassing Colorado Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins, who belted 40 round-trippers from 1998-2000. The resident of Santa Monica, Calif., has become the first Bruin to hit at least six homers in each of four seasons since current Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes belted 48 home runs from 1995-98.
UCLA's began its season playing 22 of its first 33 games away from home. The Bruins have played among the nation's most travel-intensive slates. After hosting UC Davis (Feb. 20-22), UCLA spent three consecutive weekends away from the West - at the Houston College Classic (Feb. 28-March 1), Oklahoma (March 6-8) and East Carolina (March 13-14) - before returning to L.A. to open Pac-10 play at USC. UCLA has just two weekend road trips remaining - at Oregon (May 1-3) and Arizona State (May 22-24).
OFF TO OREGON
After having won two of three games last weekend against Oregon State, the Bruins will face the University of Oregon this weekend for the first time since 1979. UCLA has played just two games at Oregon (1967, 1969), as the Ducks dropped baseball following their 1981 season. The Bruins have accumulated an all-time 11-2 record against Oregon, having won both meetings in the 1979 season (March 24, doubleheader).
GOT `EM SWINGING
Through Sunday's games, UCLA's pitching staff ranks second in the Pac-10 with 378 strikeouts. Arizona State leads the way with 383 and California follows with 346. UCLA is averaging 9.66 strikeouts per nine innings, the second-best average in the Pac-10. The Bruins have recorded 10 or more strikeouts in 18 games. Most recently, the Bruins registered 10 strikeouts in a 7-5 victory against Oregon State (April 24). UCLA totaled a season-best 17 strikeouts in an 8-6 win in the second game of a three-game series at East Carolina (March 13). Freshmen right-handers Gerrit Cole (12) and Trevor Bauer (5) combined for the 17 punchouts.
Junior Blair Dunlap has logged a .282 batting average as the Bruins' starting center fielder. Dunlap leads UCLA with 14 doubles and ranks second in RBI (28) and tied for second in home runs (six). He belted a grand slam in UCLA's 13-0 victory against Washington (April 18) before blasting a three-run line drive homer in the team's 6-3 win the following afternoon. He leads UCLA with 11 stolen bases in 15 attempts. Dunlap earned All-Malibu Regional Team honors in 2006 and All-Fullerton Regional Team accolades in 2008. The Mission Viejo, Calif., resident has tallied five of his six homers and 18 of his 28 RBI in Pac-10 action.
DEALIN' FROM THE DESERT
Junior right-hander Charles Brewer, the pride of Paradise Valley, Ariz., has gone 2-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) this spring. Brewer has registered 55 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 54.0 innings, the third-highest total on the team. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his starts. The former standout at Chaparral High School (Scottsdale, Ariz.) has compiled a 2.96 ERA with 21 strikeouts and one walk in his last four starts (24.1 innings). He has logged a 2-2 record and 3.38 ERA in Pac-10 action.
CLOSING THE DOOR
Junior left-hander Gavin Brooks leads UCLA with the seven saves, the most by a Bruin pitcher in a single season since Bobby Roe equaled that total in 1998. Brooks has compiled a 2.52 ERA since assuming UCLA's role as closer (last 29 games). In that span, the left-hander from Vista, Calif., has notched 27 strikeouts in 25.0 innings, limiting the opposition to a .198 batting average. Brooks registered two saves in three games last weekend against then-No. 17 Oregon State. The left-hander entered a 5-2 ballgame on Sunday with runners at first and second and induced a fly out on a seven-pitch at-bat to end the game.
Senior first baseman Cody Decker ranks eighth on UCLA's career home runs list with 41 round-trippers, as he stands six shy of seventh place (Ryan McGuire, 47 home runs). Senior left-hander Brendan Lafferty (2005, 07-09) has climbed up UCLA's career pitching appearances list. The reliever from Riverside, Calif., moved into sole possession of third place on the appearances list Tuesday evening when he pitched in his 89th game as a Bruin (past Mike Kunes, 2000-03). Bill Wenrick (1984-87) leads the way with 119 games and is followed by Chuck Yaeger (1981-84), who appeared on the hill in 111 contests. Senior right-hander Jason Novak (2006-09) ranks seventh on the same list, having pitched in his 81st career game on Sunday against Oregon State.
Following this weekend's series against Oregon, the Bruins will play Cal State Bakersfield next Tuesday for the first time in school history. The following weekend, UCLA opens its final home Pac-10 series of the season as the California Golden Bears travel to Los Angeles. Game time against Cal State Bakersfield is 6 p.m. The Bruins face California on Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Following the Pac-10 series against California, UCLA will play five of its final seven games on the road, including each of the last five contests.
IN HONOR OF JACK
A circular black patch with the initials "JG" adorn the left sleeve of UCLA's uniforms in 2009, in honor of the late Jack Gifford. Among the UCLA baseball program's most loyal and passionate supporters, Gifford played for the Bruins alongside former head coach Gary Adams in the early 1960s. Gifford, who passed away on Jan. 11, 2009, and his wife Rhodine generously funded the construction of UCLA's state-of-the-art hitting facility. Named in their honor - the Jack and Rhodine Gifford Hitting Facility - the practice complex stands 23-feet high behind the right field fence and spans 10,500-square feet.
MAJOR LEAGUE BRUINS
Four Bruins opened the 2009 season on major league rosters, and two former UCLA ballplayers began the year on the 15-day disabled list. Among those playing in the big-league ranks this spring include Garrett Atkins (Colorado Rockies), Eric Byrnes (Arizona Diamondbacks), Ben Francisco (Cleveland Indians) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia Phillies). Former UCLA standouts Troy Glaus (St. Louis Cardinals) and Casey Janssen (Toronto Blue Jays) have opened the 2009 campaign on the 15-day disabled list. UCLA also has three former players pitching at the triple-A minor league level - David Huff (Columbus Clippers, Cleveland affiliate) and Josh Roenicke (Louisville Bats, Cincinnati affiliate), who both starred at UCLA as recently as 2006, as well as Dave Johnson (Memphis Sounds, Milwaukee affiliate).