Los Angeles, Calif. - The 13th-ranked UCLA Baseball team returns home this week after its successful weekend in North Carolina to host the Loyola Marymount Lions at 6 p.m. out at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins and the Lions met in a three-game series at Jackie Robinson Stadium last season with UCLA winning two of those matchups. This will be the first of three meetings between the two schools this season. UCLA holds a slight lead in the all-time series at 47-46-1 while the Bruins own an all-time record of 26-22 against the Lions at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, March 4 - 6:00 p.m.
LMU – Patrick McGrath, RHP, Sr. (0-0, 2.93)
UCLA – Grant Dyer, RHP, Fr. (1-1, 3.65)
Tomorrow’s game against Loyola Marymount will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at uclabruins.com. John Ramey 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.
TAKING THE MOUND
Freshman right-hander Grant Dyer will take the mound for the Bruins tomorrow night in his third collegiate start. Dyer made his collegiate debut on Feb. 15 against Portland, pitching a scoreless inning in relief in UCLA’s 12-1 win over the Pilots. In his first start against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 18, Dyer earned the win with five shutout innings while allowing just two hits and fanning three. He took the loss against UCSB last Tuesday, pitching 4.1 innings. In high school, Dyer was a three-year varsity letterwinner at Dana Hills High School in Laguna Niguel, Calif., posting a 6-4 record as a senior in 2013. He also logged a 1.24 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched, all while holding opponents to a .208 batting average against him. Additionally, Dyer tossed four complete games and walked only eight batters during his senior season.
UCLA put on quite the display of pitching at the USA Baseball-Irish Classic over the weekend as the Bruins won all three of their games in Cary, N.C. Sophomore James Kaprielian kicked off the tournament with eight innings of one-hit ball, striking out a career-high 11 batters as UCLA defeated Notre Dame, 2-1. Junior left-hander Grant Watson followed that up with a stellar performance against No. 6 North Carolina State, as he threw eight shutout innings to propel the Bruins to a 2-0 win. Watson allowed just three hits in his eight innings of work, striking out three and walking just one while sophomore Trent Chatterton provided the run support with a two-run single in the second. For the second straight game, All-American closer David Berg picked up the save with a scoreless ninth inning. Then on Sunday vs. Michigan, sophomore Cody Poteet pitched a complete game two-hit shutout to lead the Bruins to a 5-0 victory. Poteet earned his first win of the season by striking out a career-high 13 batters while walking none. UCLA was the only team in the USA Baseball-Irish Classic to win all of its games.
POTEET EARNS NATIONAL HONORS
After his dominating performance on the mound on Sunday against Michigan, sophomore right-hander Cody Poteet was named one of the National Players of the Week by Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger, as announced by the publication. Poteet had a career day for the Bruins on Sunday, tossing a complete shutout and striking out 13 in UCLA’s 5-0 win over the Wolverines. The Bonita, Calif. native was phenomenal, allowing just two hits and no walks in his complete game shutout. Poteet struck out at least one hitter in every inning he pitched and also set a new career-high with his 13 strikeouts. In addition, his 13 strikeouts were the most by a UCLA pitcher since Trevor Bauer struck out 14 Fresno State batters on June 4, 2011. Poteet also threw the first complete game shutout by a UCLA pitcher since Nick Vander Tuig shut out Washington on March 16 of last year.
UCLA’s pitching staff has picked up right where it left off in 2013 as the Bruins continue to string together great performances on the mound this season. UCLA as a team leads the Pac-12 conference with 96 strikeouts while holding opponents to a conference-low .172 batting average. The Bruins have also allowed the second-fewest hits (60) and own the third-lowest ERA (2.41) in the Pac-12. In three games this past weekend, UCLA’s starting pitchers combined to throw 25 shutout innings, allowing just six hits and three walks while striking out 27. Additionally, UCLA’s pitchers as a group have now allowed only one run in their last 31.2 innings pitched. Finally, in the last two seasons, the Bruins are 47-2 when holding the opposing team to three runs or fewer. Last season, UCLA’s pitchers posted a team ERA of 2.55, which ranked second in the Pac-12 and sixth-best nationally.
PLAYING FROM AHEAD
In the last two seasons, UCLA has done a tremendous job of getting an early lead and then not relinquishing that lead. The Bruins are a combined 37-6 when they score first in the last two seasons and since the start of 2013 are a perfect 47-0 when leading after the seventh inning. Additionally, UCLA has a record of 21-3 in the last two seasons when scoring in the first inning.
UCLA TO FACE WASEDA IN EXHIBITION GAME
UCLA will take a break from regular season play this week as the Bruins will play host to Waseda University from Japan in an exhibition contest on Wednesday, March 5 at 4 p.m. out at Jackie Robinson Stadium. It is free parking and free admission for all fans who wish to come out and enjoy the game.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Since the start of 2010, UCLA has gone 105-44 in all home contests, good for a .705 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 4-4 start at home this season.
UCLA came in at No. 13 in this week’s Baseball America top-25 poll, marking the 38th 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 four 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.
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.
HOT HITTING BACKSTOP
Junior catcher Shane Zeile is off to a hot start at the plate through the first 11 games, leading the Bruins with a .361 batting average thus far. Zeile has also logged a team-high four multi-hit games while also leading UCLA with 13 total hits, six walks and a .467 on-base percentage. Behind the plate, Zeile has handled a pitching staff that has allowed the lowest opposing batting average (.172) and the second-fewest hits (60) in the conference thus far. Last season, Zeile started 57 of the Bruins’ 66 games, logging nine doubles and two home runs.
TAKING THE HITS
UCLA has had at least one batter get hit by a pitch in each of the first 11 games, bringing the Bruins’ season total to 20 batters hit by a pitch, second-most in the conference. Brian Carroll leads the Bruins and the Pac-12 conference with six hit by pitches while Ty Moore and Christoph Bono have each been hit three times. Chris Keck, Shane Zeile and Pat Gallagher have been hit twice while Luke Persico and Trent Chatterton have each been hit once. UCLA led the conference with 82 hit batters in 2013 and had a school record 104 batters hit by a pitch back in 2010.
All-American closer David Berg has enjoyed as fine a career as any reliever in the history of college baseball. In three seasons, Berg has made 109 appearances, which is already good for third-most in school history, and has posted a 13-3 record with a 1.26 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 (28). This season, Berg has thrown 12 innings in eight appearances while logging three saves and a 2.25 ERA.
UCLA has won 19 of its last 24 midweek games dating back to the 2012 season. The Bruins are also 20-7 in their last 27 games against Big West opponents. UCLA posted a perfect 9-0 record against Big West Conference foes in 2012. The Bruins went 7-4 in midweek games last season, defeating UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine on the road and Hawai’i, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine at home. This season, UCLA is 1-1 in midweek games.
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 and has a staggering winning percentage staggering .709 since 2010.