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Bruins - Winners of Four Straight - Host Utah For Three Game Series
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  02/15/2005

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Feb. 15, 2005

On Deck

Utah (0-6) vs. UCLA (6-3)

The Series: UCLA leads 4-0
Last Meeting:
UCLA won 3-0 (February 23, 2003 at the Domino's Pizza Aggie Baseball Classic in College Station, TX)

The Schedule
February 18 - 6:00 p.m., Jackie Robinson Stadium
February 19 - 1:00 p.m., Jackie Robinson Stadium
February 20 - 1:00 p.m., Jackie Robinson Stadium

Projected Starting Rotations (fri. through sun.) -
UCLA
Hector Ambriz, RHP, 1-0, 2.16 ERA
Bryan Beck, RHP, 1-0, 2.45 ERA
Brant Rustich, RHP, 1-0, 2.08 ERA
Utah
Jason Price, LHP, 0-1, 6.30 ERA
Chad Cullers, RHP, 0-0, 8.31 ERA
Matt Crockett, LHP, 0-2, 7.36 ERA

Leading Off...
For the first time since April of last season, the Bruins have pieced together a four-game winning streak at the expense of Fresno State, UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge. UCLA is 6-3 heading into this weekend's three-game home series against the winless Utah Utes (0-6).

Since beginning the season 1-2 after a rain-soaked opening series against Cal Poly, UCLA has gone 5-1 and has moved up to No. 33 in the SportsWeekly/ESPN national baseball poll.

Six of the Bruins' next seven games will be played at Jackie Robinson Stadium before UCLA embarks on a six-game road trip to the Kia Bash and Texas A&M.

What's Bruin
UCLA's last four-game winning streak spanned from April 18-24, 2004 and featured victories over Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton and Cal... The Bruins are 4-0 all-time against Utah and have not faced the Utes since a pair of contests in 2003 at the Aggie Baseball Classic in College Station, TX... UCLA won both games by scores of 3-0... The other two meetings occured in 1989 (UCLA won 11-2 at home) and in 1975 (UCLA won 4-3 at home)... Brett McMillan tied a career high with four RBI in Sunday's game against Cal State Northridge... Three Bruins recorded their first career hits at UCLA last week (Kris Kasarjian, Jonathan Medici, Parker Hanks)... Questions Answered: Entering the season, plenty of questions surrounded sophomore right-hander Hector Ambriz but he has done nothing but silence the critics - Ambriz is hitting .484 (15-for-31) with five doubles and a home run at the plate while posting a 2.16 ERA and a 1-0 record ont he mound... Head Coach John Savage enters the Utah series with 94 career wins... Savage has never faced Utah as a head coach... Nine games into the 2005 season, UCLA is outscoring its opponents 57-36 and outhitting them 91-65 (UCLA is outscoring the opponent 10-1 in the first inning and the Bruins are hitting an even .300 in the opening frame)... Bruin hurlers have combined to hold opposing hitters to a mere .221 batting average... Heart of the Order: Ambriz, Sean Smith and Eric Taylor, UCLA's three through five hitters, are a combined 37-for-95 (.389).

Rustich Named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week
Sophomore right-hander Brant Rustich has been named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for the week of February 8-14, Commissioner Tom Hansen announced Tuesday.

Rustich, from El Cajon, Calif., was masterful on Feb. 13 against Cal State Northridge as he picked up his first win of the season with a complete game performance, allowing just one unearned run. Rustich struck out eight and needed just 113 pitches en route to his first career complete game. He got stronger as the game progressed, retiring seven of the last nine batters he faced. The right-hander was not scheduled to pitch in the game because of a rainout two days earlier, but due to Bryan Beck's sore pitching shoulder, Rustich was reinserted into the starting slot. Rustich lowered his season ERA over two full runs down to 2.08. Opposing hitters are now batting a meager .197 against him.

The Pitcher of the Week honor is the first ever for Rustich and the 37th selection all-time for UCLA.

UCLA Increases Win Streak to Four With Victories Over CSUN
The Bruins didn't have much time to celebrate their dramatic 5-4, tenth inning victory over Cal State Northridge on Saturday night - after all they were back at it just 12 hours later en route to a convincing 7-1 win over the Matadors.

Will Penniall was the hero on Saturday night after his walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth inning capped off a two-run Bruin rally for a 5-4 win. On Sunday the story was Brant Rustich, who set career highs in strikeouts and innings pitched, as he tossed his first career complete game. Rustich allowed just one unearned run in the seventh inning as UCLA took game two from the Matadors.

UCLA also notched its first two home runs on Sunday as sophomore Hector Ambriz and junior Brett McMillan both went deep off CSUN starter Jimmy Brettl. Ambriz' shot was part of his second four-hit performance of the year as he raised his team leading average to .484.

Bruins Blowout UC Riverside 17-0
Three first inning runs would be all UCLA needed, but the Bruins went on to score 14 more times and eventually pounded UC Riverside 17-0 at a chilly Jackie Robinson Stadium on February 8. The 17-run margin of victory was the largest for UCLA since May 23, 2003 when the Bruins defeated Washington State 21-3 and is the largest shutout victory since UCLA's 20-0 win over Arizona on May 8, 1983.

Sophomore Eric Taylor led the charge for the Bruins with a 2-for-2 night at the plate with two runs scored and four RBI. In all, 17 different UCLA batters saw action.

Five Bruin hurlers combined to allow just two hits in UCLA's first shutout of the year.

Ambriz, Denove, Page and Rustich Noted by Baseball America

UCLA junior catcher Chris Denove was noted by Baseball America as the best defensive catcher in the Pac-10 when the publication released its annual conference preview on January 11. The Agoura Hills native was also listed as having the best arm of all Pac-10 backstops.

The magazine also tabbed sophomore pitchers Brant Rustich and Hector Ambriz as the No. 28 and No. 33 best sophomores in the nation, respectively, as part of its "Fab 50" baseball preview. Rustich was a 46th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins out of high school in 2003.

Baseball America also awarded the Pac-10 the No. 2 conference power ranking, essentially naming the conference the second most competitive in the nation. UCLA has been picked to finish sixth the publication's preseason poll, behind nationally ranked teams Stanford (6), Washington (8), Arizona State (9), Arizona (12) and USC (30).

More recently, redshirt sophomore Jarrad Page and Ambriz were listed as the No. 73 and 80 top college players eligible for the 2005 draft. The magazine also noted several future Bruins, John Drennen (#26), Tim Murphy (#62), Ryan Babineau (#73) and Brian Kirwan (#77) - who are all members of UCLA's 2005 signing class, as four of the Top-100 High School Prospects of 2005.


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