Los Angeles, Calif. - The 12th-ranked UCLA Baseball team will play host to the 22nd-ranked Cal Poly Mustangs this weekend as the two schools will play a three-game series from Friday, Feb. 21 to Sunday, Feb. 23 at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, Feb. 21 - 6 p.m.
CP – Matt Imhof, LHP, Jr. (1-0, 0.00)
UCLA – James Kaprielian, RHP, So. (0-1, 1.80)
Saturday, Feb. 22 - 2 p.m.
CP – Slater Lee, RHP, Fr. (1-0, 1.42)
UCLA – Grant Watson, LHP, Jr. (1-0, 0.00)
Sunday, Feb. 23 - 1 p.m.
CP – Casey Bloomquist, RHP, So. (1-0, 1.80)
UCLA – Cody Poteet, RHP, So. (0-0, 2.08)
UCLA VS. CAL POLY
UCLA and Cal Poly have previously met 24 times on the baseball diamond, with the Bruins winning 20 of those matchups. The two sides met last season in the second game of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional, a game that the Bruins won, 6-4. Kevin Williams led the way for UCLA in that game, logging three RBI while Nick Vander Tuig earned the win with six strong innings on the mound. The Bruins have won seven of the last eight meetings against the Mustangs while head coach John Savage owns a record of 8-4 against Cal Poly in his time at UCLA.
All three of the UCLA/Cal Poly games this weekend will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at uclabruins.com. John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call live from Jackie Robinson Stadium. Fans can also follow all three games online through a live stats link, which provides pitch-by-pitch updates on uclabruins.com. Links can be found on the front page of uclabruins.com on the events calendar or on the 2014 UCLA Baseball schedule page.
The Bruins earned their first midweek win of the season on Tuesday night, defeating the Cal State Northridge Matadors, 7-1, at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Sophomore Christoph Bono led the way for the Bruins at the plate, going 2-4 with a triple, three RBI and a run scored. Sophomore Trent Chatterton followed that up with a 2-4 performance that included two RBI while junior Chris Keck also went 2-4 with two runs scored and a RBI. On the mound, freshman Grant Dyer picked up his first collegiate victory, tossing five scoreless innings while striking out three. Junior David Berg logged his first save of the year, pitching 1.1 innings in relief without giving up a run. With the win, UCLA has now won 19 of its last 23 midweek games and is 19-4 in its last 23 games against Big West opponents.
ON THE MOUND ON FRIDAY NIGHT
Making his second collegiate start on Friday night will be sophomore right-hander James Kaprielian. Kaprielian served as an integral part of UCLA’s bullpen in 2013, making 34 relief appearances while posting a 1.55 ERA, two saves and 53 strikeouts in 40.2 innings pitched. For his efforts, he earned freshman All-America honors from Perfect Game USA and Collegiate Baseball. In his first start against Portland, Kaprielian pitched five innings, striking out seven and allowing one run.
Junior left-hander Grant Watson is slated to start Saturday’s contest for the Bruins. As a sophomore in 2013, Watson went 9-3 with a 3.01 ERA, striking out 55 batters and walking just 16, the sixth-fewest in the Pac-12. He pitched particularly well in the postseason, winning both of his starts while not allowing a run in 13 combined innings. In addition, Watson was named to the 2013 NCAA Los Angeles Regional All-Tournament Team. Watson is off to a strong start in 2014, earning the win in UCLA’s 12-1 victory over Portland last weekend. The Bakersfield, Calif. native tossed seven shutout innings, matching a career-high with eight strikeouts while walking just one. In his UCLA career, Watson has posted a 19-5 overall record with a 3.58 ERA.
CLOSING OUT THE SERIES
Sophomore right-hander Cody Poteet will start the series finale for the Bruins on Sunday afternoon. Poteet served as UCLA’s midweek starter in 2013, going 4-4 with a 4.69 ERA in 11 midweek starts while posting a 4-6 record overall with a 4.84 ERA. He struck out 56 batters in 2013 and this past summer, played with the Walla Walla Sweets of the West Coast League, being selected as one of the league’s All-Stars. In his first start of the season last weekend, Poteet allowed one run in 4.1 innings pitched, striking out three in a no-decision.
UCLA’s pitching staff is off to a great start to the 2014 season, giving up only six runs in the Bruins’ first four games. In its their last 12 games, UCLA’s pitchers have not allowed more than three runs in any ballgame, allowing only one run or less in nine of their last 10. Last season, UCLA’s pitchers posted a team ERA of 2.55, which ranked second in the Pac-12 and sixth-best nationally. The Bruins also ranked third in the country with an overall WHIP of 1.07 in 2013, and held opponents to a .222 batting average against them, the second-lowest in the Pac-12. Additionally, UCLA allowed the fewest runs (196) in the conference last season.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Since the start of 2010, UCLA has gone 104-41 in all home contests, good for a .717 winning percentage. The Bruins have also gone 37-20 in conference home games since 2010. UCLA has logged five Pac-12 home sweeps in the last four years (2010 vs. USC; 2011 vs. Washington; 2012 vs. USC; 2013 vs. Washington, Utah, Arizona) and six non-conference home sweeps (2010 vs. Nebraska, Oral Roberts, Cal Poly; 2011 vs. San Francisco; 2012 vs. Sacramento State; 2013 vs. Wright State). The Bruins went 27-9 at Jackie Robinson Stadium last season and are off to a 3-1 start at home this season.
UCLA has finished among the top three in the Pac-12 Conference each of the last eight seasons (2006-2013), the only Pac-12 team to have done so. Under John Savage, UCLA finished third from 2006 through 2009, before finishing second in 2010 and winning the confernece title in 2011 and 2012. Last season, UCLA finished third with a 21-9 Pac-12 record. Never before in school history has UCLA enjoyed an eight-year span with as many top finishes in the standings.
UCLA came in at No. 12 in this week’s Baseball America top-25 poll, marking the 36th consecutive week that the Bruins have been ranked in the top 25. The Bruins last dropped out of the poll on May 22, 2011. UCLA finished the 2013 season ranked No. 1 in each of the nation’s major polls. In the last three seasons, the Bruins have been ranked in the top 10 by Baseball America a total of 17 times. UCLA also concluded the 2013 campaign with an RPI of 9 and the No. 2 strength of schedule according to boydsworld.com.
Juniors David Berg, Grant Watson and Kevin Kramer, and sophomore James Kaprielian were all named preseason All-Americans for the 2014 season from various publications. Berg secured preseason All-America accolades from every major outlet, including Baseball America (second team), Collegiate Baseball (first team), the NCBWA (first team) and Perfect Game USA (second team). Watson and Kramer earned preseason All-America acclaim from the NCBWA (second and third team respectively) while Kaprielian was named a third-team preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball. Berg captured All-America honors from every major publication last season while Kaprielian earned freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game USA.
UCLA was selected to finish third in the Pac-12’s preseason coaches’ poll. Oregon State was picked to finish first while Oregon is projected to finish second. Arizona State and Arizona rounded out the top five in that order. The remaining six teams include (in order) Stanford, California, Washington State, USC, Washington and Utah.
In conference games since 2006, UCLA ranks second in wins (132) and win percentage (.623), trailing only Arizona State. The Bruins are third in total wins (312) and are fourth in overall win percentage (.629) among Pac-12 teams. UCLA and Arizona split the 2012 Pac-12 title, and UCLA won the 2011 Pac-10 championship in outright fashion for the first time since 1986.
Returning to anchor the bullpen is All-American closer David Berg, who has enjoyed as fine a two-year career as any reliever in the history of college baseball. In three seasons, Berg has made 103 appearances, which is already good for third-most in school history, and has posted a 13-3 record with a 1.15 ERA. Berg also owns the NCAA single-season record for saves with 24 in 2013 and tied the NCAA record for most appearances in a season with 51 last year. Additionally, he became the first reliever in conference history to win Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year last season and was UCLA’s first recipient of the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award, given out to the nation’s top relief pitcher. Berg was named to the All-Pac-12 Team for the second time in his career in 2013, making him just the 25th UCLA player all-time to receive all-conference acclaim at least twice. In addition, he finished second in the country in both WHIP (walks and hits allowed per innings pitched) with a mark of 0.85 and ERA last year. Finally, Berg is the only pitcher in UCLA history to lead the conference in ERA in back-to-back seasons and is UCLA’s all-time record holder for most postseason appearances (17), postseason saves (6) and career saves (26). This season, Berg has already thrown 6.1 innings in three appearances while not allowing a run.
LAST FOUR SEASONS
The Bruins rank among the top 10 in the nation in victories over the last five seasons (2010-14), ranking sixth in the country with 186 wins, which is also tops amongst all Pac-12 schools. UCLA and South Carolina are the only schools that have advanced to the College World Series in at least three of the last four seasons. and won a title. UCLA, Virginia and South Carolina are the only schools in the country to have hosted NCAA Regionals the last four years.
HEAD COACH JOHN SAVAGE
Head coach John Savage was named the 2013 National Coach of the Year by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, the ABCA and Perfect Game USA. By guiding the Bruins to their second straight College World Series last year, Savage became one of just 10 coaches all-time from the Pac-12 to lead their teams to back-to-back College World Series appearances (Frank Sancet, Jerry Kindall - Arizona; Bobby Winkles, Jim Brock - Arizona State; Pat Casey - Oregon State; Mark Marquess - Stanford; Sam Barry, Rod Dedeaux, Mike Gillespie - USC). Savage served as the pitching coach at USC from 1997-2000, where he helped lead the Trojans to the 1998 national title and another apperance at the CWS in 2000. Additionally, Savage is one of just five coaches in college baseball history to have led his team to one CWS championship, produced a No. 1 MLB Draft pick and coached a Golden Spikes Award winner. Savage helped UCLA post an overall 49-17 record in 2013, marking the second-highest single-season win total in school history, and is UCLA’s all-time winningest postseason manager with 32 postseason victories. UCLA also matched a school record with 21 conference victories in 2013. Finally, Savage has guided the Bruins to the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons has a staggering winning percentage staggering .713 since 2010.
PAST DRAFT SELECTIONS
John Savage has seen 65 MLB draft selections at UCLA in his previous nine seasons at the helm. Seven of Savage’s pitchers have been promoted to the majors (Hector Ambriz, Trevor Bauer, Charles Brewer, Tyson Brummett, Gerrit Cole, David Huff and Josh Roenicke). Of those 65 draft picks, 24 have been selected in the draft’s first 10 rounds. Last season, seven Bruins were drafted, with right-handed pitcher Nick Vander Tuig leading the way as a sixth-round pick by the San Francisco Giants.
UCLA’s 34-man roster features four seniors, seven juniors, 11 sophomores and 12 freshmen. All but two players (Pat Gallagher, Nevada; Andrew Schmidt, Colorado) hail from California. In addtion, of the 34 players from California, 21 come from Southern California, eight from Northern California and three from Central California.