The defending champion UCLA Baseball team has earned the No. 12 preseason ranking in Baseball America's top-25 preseason poll, as announced by the publication today. In addition, the Bruins have earned the No. 8 preseason ranking in Perfect Game USA’s top-25 preseason poll. UCLA went 49-17 last season, winning the program’s first NCAA Championship.
This is the second consecutive season that the Bruins have been named to the preseason top-10 in the Perfect Game USA poll, after beginning last season ranked No. 6 in the poll. UCLA also started last season ranked No. 12 in the Baseball America poll. Virginia earned the top spot in both the Baseball America and Perfect Game USA preseason polls for this year.
Last month, Collegiate Baseball ranked the Bruins No. 15 in their preseason top-40 poll. UCLA has made the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons and has hosted an NCAA Regional at Jackie Robinson in each of the last four seasons, making the Bruins one of just three schools in the country to have hosted an NCAA Regional the last four years. The Bruins also hosted an NCAA Super Regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium in 2010 and 2012 and have reached the College World Series in three of the last four seasons.
UCLA is one of three Pac-12 programs in the Baseball America top-25, joining No. 2 Oregon State and No. 11 Oregon, and one of four Pac-12 teams in the Perfect Game USA poll, again joining Oregon State (No. 3), Oregon (No. 9) and Arizona State (No. 18). The Bruins will play nine games against teams ranked in the Baseball America preseason top-25, playing three-game series against the Oregon schools, a two-game set against No. 4 Cal State Fullerton, and one game against No. 5 North Carolina State. UCLA will play 12 games against teams ranked in the Perfect Game USA preseason top-25, playing the aforementioned nine games in addition to a three-game series vs. Arizona State.
The Bruins return 22 letterwinners off of last season's NCAA Championship winning squad. UCLA will have six starting position players back, led by preseason All-American infielder Kevin Kramer. The rotation will feature junior left-hander Grant Watson, who has won 18 games in his first two seasons in Westwood and, like Kramer, was named a preseason All-American. In the bullpen, the Bruins will be led by their All-American closer David Berg, who set the NCAA single-season record for saves in 2013 with 24. Berg also earned the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, handed out to the nation's top relief pitcher, and the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year award.
UCLA will begin the 2014 season with a three-game series at home against Portland from Friday, Feb. 14 to Sunday, Feb. 16 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Game time of the season opener will be at 6 p.m. The Bruins and Pilots will continue their series on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.