Los Angeles, Calif. - In a battle between the last two NCAA champions, the UCLA Baseball team will return to conference play this weekend as they head to Tucson, Ariz. to take on the Arizona Wildcats in a three-game series from Friday, April 11 to Sunday, April 13.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, April 11 - 7 p.m.
UCLA – James Kaprielian, RHP, So. (4-3, 2.48)
ARIZ – James Farris, RHP, Sr. (4-3, 4.31)
Saturday, April 12 - 7:30 p.m.
UCLA – Grant Watson, LHP, Jr. (4-3, 2.91)
ARIZ – Cody Hamlin, RHP, So. (4-2, 2.31)
Sunday, April 13 - 4 p.m.
UCLA – Cody Poteet, RHP, So. (2-2, 4.31)
ARIZ – Tyger Talley, RHP, So. (1-0, 3.99)
UCLA VS. ARIZONA
The Bruins lead the all-time series, 124-114-2, while head coach John Savage holds a record of 17-11 against the Wildcats in his time at UCLA. Last season, UCLA earned a three-game sweep over Arizona at Jackie Robinson Stadium, outscoring the Wildcats 29-8 in the series. It was the first time that the Bruins had swept Arizona in a season series since 2000. Additionally, UCLA has won the last eight Pac-12 series against the Wildcats, with their last conference series loss to Arizona coming back in 2005.
ALL THREE GAMES TO BE TELEVISED LIVE
All three games of the Arizona series will be nationally televised live. Friday and Sunday’s games will be shown live on the Pac-12 Networks while ESPNU will carry Saturday’s game. Roxy Bernstein and Eric Byrnes will have the call for the Pac-12 Network games while Clay Matvick and Randy Flores will have the call for Saturday’s game on ESPNU. UCLA has made two appearances already on the Pac-12 Networks and will make 17 total appearances on the Pac-12 Networks this year. This will be the first of two appearances on ESPNU for the Bruins. Eight of the 19 total TV appearances for UCLA will come at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
All three of UCLA's games at Arizona 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 Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz. 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.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Sophomore right-hander James Kaprielian will take the mound for the Bruins on Friday night in the series opener at Hi Corbett Field. After earning freshman All-America honors from Perfect Game USA and Collegiate Baseball in 2013, Kaprielian has continued that success into 2014, posting a 4-3 record with a 2.48 ERA and a team-high 57 strikeouts. His 57 strikeouts are good for third-most in the conference and 23rd-most in the nation. In addition, Kaprielian’s 2.48 ERA is the lowest amongst all UCLA starting pitchers and his 54.1 innings pitched leads all UCLA pitchers (fourth-most in the Pac-12). Kaprielian has also held opposing hitters to a .192 batting average against him, the sixth-lowest opposing average in the Pac-12, and has allowed two runs or less in six of his eight starts this season. In last start at Long Beach State, Kaprielian was brilliant, throwing nine shutout innings while not allowing a runner to reach second base against him in a no-decision.
GAME TWO STARTER
Junior left-hander Grant Watson will start game two of the series on Saturday night for the Bruins. Watson is 4-3 in eight starts this season, striking out 38 batters in 52.2 innings pitched while posting a 2.91 ERA. Additionally, he is holding opponents to a .216 batting average against him, the 10th-lowest in the Pac-12 and his 38 strikeouts are the ninth-most in the conference. Finally, in his career Watson has logged a 22-7 record as a starter and has pitched at least six innings in six of his eight starts this season.
STARTING THE SERIES FINALE
Sophomore right-hander Cody Poteet will start for the Bruins on Sunday afternoon in the series finale. Poteet served as UCLA’s midweek starter in 2013, posting a 4-6 overall record 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. This season, he is 2-2 through eight starts, logging an ERA of 4.31 while striking out 29 batters. He has also surrendered just five walks all season, the third-fewest in the conference.
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 41-10 when they score first in the last two seasons and since the start of 2013 are 56-1 when leading after the seventh inning. Additionally, UCLA has a record of 26-5 in the last two seasons when scoring in the first inning.
The Bruins have done an excellent job this season of laying down sacrifice bunts. UCLA ranks fifth in the nation and is currently tied for first in the Pac-12 with 47 sacrifice bunts. Senior Brian Carroll leads the team and is sixth in the Pac-12 with eight sacrifice bunts. Freshman Luke Persico and sophomore Trent Chatterton are right behind Carroll with seven and six sacrifice bunts apiece. The Bruins have laid down at least one successful sacrifice bunt in 10 of their last 11 games and have a total of 22 sacrifice bunts in those 11 games. Last season, UCLA set a school record with 76 sacrifice bunts. In the sacrifice fly category, the Bruins have recorded 13 on the year with Persico, sophomore Christoph Bono and junior Chris Keck leading the way with two sacrifice flies each.
Junior catcher Shane Zeile has continued to hit the ball well at the plate during the 2014 season. The Valencia, Calif. native leads the Bruins and ranks 10th in the Pac-12 with a .345 batting average. Zeile, who was named to the 2014 Johnny Bench Award Watch List, given out to the nation’s top collegiate catcher, has also logged a team-high 12 multi-hit games while leading UCLA with 41 total hits, 13 walks (tied with Carroll) and a .428 on-base percentage (10th-best in the Pac-12). His 41 hits rank seventh in the Pac-12 and he has also reached base safely 14 of his last 15 games. Additionally, Zeile has hit .338 with eight RBI and 11 runs scored. Behind the plate, Zeile has handled a pitching staff that has allowed the third-lowest opposing batting average (.220) and second-lowest ERA (2.80) in the conference.
Since the start of 2010, UCLA has gone 87-36 in all road and neutral site contests, good for a .707 winning percentage. The Bruins have also gone 43-17 in Pac-12 road games since 2010. In the last three seasons, UCLA has gone 42-14 on the road and 10-2 in neutral site games. The Bruins have logged six Pac-12 road sweeps in the last four years (2010 at Washington, California; 2011 at Oregon; 2012 at Washington, Utah; 2013 at USC; 2014 at California) and one non-conference road sweep (2012 at Georgia). The Bruins went 17-8 on the road in 2013, winning series at Baylor, Oregon, Washington State and USC and are currently 6-2 on the road this season. UCLA has also won 17 of its last 19 games away from Jackie Robinson Stadium dating back to last season.
UCLA has been ranked in the Baseball America top-25 in 42 of the last 43 weeks dating back to 2011. UCLA finished the 2013 season ranked No. 1 in each of the nation’s major polls and in the last four seasons, has 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 while this season the Bruins have the 10th-toughest schedule in the country.
Senior Brian Carroll and sophomores Christoph Bono and Ty Moore are all having strong 2014 seasons thus far. Carroll, a San Diego, Calif. native, is batting at a .283 clip so far, scoring a team-high 18 runs. Serving as the leadoff hitter in every game thus far, Carroll has posted a .401 on-base percentage and has hit safely in 16 of his last 21 games. In the last 21 games, Carroll has batted .293 with 11 runs scored. He has also reached base safely in 23 of his last 27 games. Bono, Carroll’s counterpart in right field, has hit safely in 14 of his last 19 games and has logged at least one RBI in 11 of those 19 games. Bono currently has a team-high 10 doubles, fifth-most in the conference, and leads the team in RBI (18). Additionally, he is second to Shane Zeile with 11 multi-hit games and is second to Carroll with 15 runs scored. Finally, in left field, Moore has hit safely in 14 of his last 19 contests and is batting .324 with 11 RBI and a .439 OBP in his last 19 games. Moore has also recorded multi-hit games in four of his last nine games.
TAKING THE HITS
UCLA has done a remarkable job this season of reaching base via the hit by pitch. Overall, UCLA hitters have been hit 54 times in 31 games thus far, which is the most in the Pac-12 and 17th-most in the country. Senior Brian Carroll and sophomore Ty Moore lead the Bruins individually with 10 hit by pitches each, which is also good for third-most in the conference. UCLA has had a batter get hit by a pitch in 11 straight games and has had a total of 28 batters get hit by a pitch in those 11 games. Last season, the Bruins drew 82 hit by pitches, the most in the Pac-12 Conference.
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 a school record 125 appearances, breaking the previous mark of 119 set by Bill Wenrick from 1984-87, and has posted a 15-4 record with a 1.29 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 (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 (34). This season, Berg has thrown 36.0 innings in a nation-leading 24 appearances, all while logging a 3-1 record, nine saves and a 1.75 ERA (fourth-lowest in the Pac-12). Berg has also won 11 of his last 12 decisions dating back to 2012 and his nine saves are the second-most in the conference and sixth-most in the country.
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. 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 .698 since 2010.
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 is holding opponents to a .220 batting average, the third-lowest in the conference. The Bruins have also allowed the fourth-fewest hits (224), fewest walks (72) and own the second-lowest ERA (2.80) in the Pac-12. The Bruins’ pitchers also own a WHIP of 1.05, the second-best in the Pac-12 and 10th-best in the nation. Additionally, UCLA’s bullpen has posted an ERA of 2.07 in 31 games this season while holding opponents to a .206 batting average. Max Schuh currently leads all UCLA pitchers with a 1.12 ERA in 18 relief appearances and has not allowed an earned run in his last 12 appearances (9.1 IP). The Bruins have also allowed three runs or less to the opposition in 10 of their last 16 contests and in the last two seasons are 56-3 when holding the opposing team to three runs or fewer.