April 24, 2006
No. 22 UCLA vs. UC Santa Barbara - Jackie Robinson Stadium, April 25 at 6 p.m., Brian Schroeder, LHP (3-1, 4.30) vs. Brian Tracy, RHP (1-6, 5.40)
Get After It: The No. 22-ranked UCLA baseball team (23-16, 7-5 Pac-10) plays the final game of its five-game home stand on Tuesday, April 25 at 6 p.m., in a non-conference matchup with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (16-20, 3-6 Big West). UCLA enters this week ranked No. 22 in the nation by Baseball America, the program's first Top-25 ranking since March of 2001.
Arizona State Recap: UCLA and No. 10 Arizona State dueled out a tough three-game series with a great exhibition of well-played collegiate baseball. The Sun Devils took game one by a score of 3-2, but UCLA took the final two games of the series with a 5-1 win on Saturday afternoon, and a 11-10 win in what was a 10 inning, five-hour long battle on Sunday.
About the Gauchos: The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos enter Tuesday's game with a 16-20 overall record and 3-6 mark in the Big West. The Gauchos dropped two of three games at UC Irvine this past weekend, and will play the final game of an eight-game road swing against the Bruins. UCSB has lost seven of their last nine contests, and are 7-14 on the road so far this season. The Gauchos won their last road game against a Pac-10 opponent when they beat USC by a score of 9-2 on April 5. As a team, UCSB bats .286 (348-1218), with 22 home runs, 195 RBI, 212 runs scored, and 21 stolen bases in 37 attempts. UC Santa Barbara is led by Chris Valaika who is hitting .361 (53-147) with seven home runs and 39 RBI. The Gauchos pitching staff owns a 5.22 team ERA with 173 strikeouts in 308.2 innings pitched while holding opponents to a .279 batting average. Head Coach Bob Brontsema is in his 13th year at the helm of the Gaucho program.
The UCSB-UCLA Series: Since 1975, UCLA owns a 38-21 series advantage over UC Santa Barbara. The Bruins dropped two games in a three-game home-and-home series to the Gauchos last season. Last year's loss at home to UCSB was the Bruins' first to the Gauchos at Jackie Robinson Stadium since 1997.
Turning Point: UCLA's season has made a change for the better since the Bruins played Long Beach State on Feb. 28. Entering that February game, UCLA was 5-9 overall and fresh off being swept in three-games by Cal State Fullerton. The Bruins knocked off the No. 15 Dirtbags (6-3) that day, and went on to sweep No. 17 NC State on the road. Since Feb. 28, UCLA is 18-7 (.720).
Punch First: UCLA is quite successful when making the scoreboard light up first in a game. So far this season, the Bruins are 11-3 when scoring in the first inning, and 15-4 when scoring before the opposition in a game. UCLA is 8-12 when opponents score first in a game.
In the Fridge: When UCLA has a lead late in the ball game, the Bruins are pretty consistent at sealing the deal. So far this season, UCLA is 21-2 when leading after six innings of play, and a perfect 22-0 when owning the lead after eight innings. On the other side of things, UCLA is 1-10 when trailing after six innings and 0-14 when behind after eight innings of play.
Rank This: Get used to it - the UCLA baseball team is ranked in the national polls. The Bruins enter the week ranked No. 22 in the nation by Baseball America, and No. 25 by the Rosenblatt Report. This week marked the first time since March of 2001 that UCLA has been ranked in the Top-25 by Baseball America.
Rank That: UCLA was back in familiar territory this past weekend when it played No. 10-ranked Arizona State, taking two of three games from the Sun Devils. 18 of the Bruins' first 22 games this season were against nationally ranked opposition, with a streak of 12-consecutive games versus ranked opponents once in effect. UCLA is 11-10 against ranked opposition on the season. UCLA is 10-4 in its last 14 games against unranked opponents.
Speaks For Itself: UCLA ranked in this week at No. 14 in the national RPI rankings, with a third-ranked strength of schedule.
Magic Numbers: So far this season, UCLA is 21-3 when scoring five or more runs in a ball game, and owns a 12-0 record when holding opponents to two runs or less. The Bruins are also 22-6 this season when recording eight or more hits in a game. UCLA is conversely 0-7 on the season when scoring one run or less, and 1-10 when recording seven hits or less in a game.
1-2 Step: UCLA has a knack for scoring runs early. So far this season, the Bruins have outscored the opposition 69-28 in the first two innings.
Home Run Tear: The Bruins have ripped a long ball in 19 of their last 26 games, knocking 31 jacks in that span, a stretch that included home runs in 13-consecutive games. UCLA has 39 home runs on the season, good for second in the Pac-10. 14 different Bruins have smacked round-trippers so far this season, with nine players already owning two-or-more home runs on the year (Ambriz 3, Babineau 4, Crawford 4, Decker 3, Jensen 4, McMillan 6, Smith 3, Stewart 4, Taylor, Jr. 3). UCLA is 17-6 this season when a Bruin homers in a game.
Big Innings: UCLA likes to score its runs in bunches, as the Bruins have scored three or more runs in an inning 35 times this season. 121 of UCLA's 236 total runs (51 percent) this season have come when posting three or more runs in an inning. Scoring three or more runs in an inning in a game translates into success for UCLA, as the Bruins are 19-1 this season when scoring three or more runs in an inning.
The Bruins used three-run innings to get past the Sun Devils during the weekend. UCLA used a three-run seventh inning to pull away for a 5-1 win over ASU on Saturday. The Bruins then survived their battle with Arizona State on Sunday by using a three-run third inning to take a 5-4 lead, and a three-run 10th inning to record their first come-back win of the season.
Good D: UCLA's defense has been superb this year as the Bruins currently rank No. 1 in the Pac-10 Conference with a .975 fielding percentage.
UCLA recorded just one error the entire three-game series against ASU, only the second time this season the Bruins had accomplished such a feat. UCLA also committed just one error in its three-game series with Fresno State to open the season.
Dealing: UCLA's pitching has been solid all season long. The Bruins entered this week second in the Pac-10 with a 3.67 team ERA, and are third in the conference with a .253 opposing batting average.
Winning Without HR: UCLA might be 6-10 on the season when not putting one over the fence in a game, but the Bruins have won their last four games when not hitting a home run. UCLA won the last two games of the three-game series at Arizona without hitting a home run. Winning back-to-back games without knocking a round tripper was a first for the Bruins this season, as UCLA scored 13 runs on Friday without a long ball, the first time the Bruins scored in double-digits in a game this season without hitting a home run.
The Bruins would repeat themselves this past weekend against Arizona State. UCLA won back-to-back games against the Sun Devils without hitting a home run, and scored 11 runs in Sunday's win, its second double-digit run total in a game minus a long ball.
Multi-hitters: UCLA has three players with double-digit multi-hit games. Freshman Brandon Crawford leads the team with 17 multi-hit games, senior Chris Jensen has 16 multi-hit games, and junior Hector Ambriz has 12 games with two hits or more. 10 different Bruins have at least five or more multi-hit games, and 16 different Bruins have recorded multiple hits in a game this season a total of 109 times.
Got It Done: The Bruins accomplished something that has only been done once in the last five seasons at UCLA - win three-straight Pac-10 series. UCLA defeated Arizona State twice in the three-game series after back-to-back Pac-10 series wins against Washington State and at Arizona under its belt. The last time the Bruins won three-consecutive Pac-10 series was in 2004 when UCLA closed out the Pac-10 schedule with series wins over Washington State, Washington, and Oregon State.
Keep On Hitting: UCLA hit .298 (31-104) this past weekend against Arizona State with one home run, eight doubles, 17 RBI, and 18 runs scored. Since starting the Pac-10 schedule batting .176 after three games at Washington, UCLA is hitting .327 (104-318) in its last nine conference games. The Bruins are currently hitting .290 (122-420) in Pac-10 play, good for third-best in the conference.
Long One: UCLA played its longest game of the season on Sunday, as the Bruins and the Sun Devils battled out a 10 inning game in five hours and four minutes. Ironically, UCLA's first extra inning game this season was a 3-2 win at Washington in 11 innings, a game that only took 2:53 to play.
Double Decker: Freshman Cody Decker produced maybe the most clutch hit of the season (so far) for the Bruins on Sunday against Arizona State. With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the 10th inning with the Bruins trailing ASU 10-8, Decker ripped a double to left field to score two and tie the game at 10-10. It was Decker's first double of the season, and his first-career pinch hit in nine tries.
Getting It Done: Freshman Ryan Babineau has been a consistent force for UCLA at the plate when the Bruins need offensive production the most. In Friday's game against ASU, Babineau went a perfect 3-for-3 with a solo home run, the first three-hit game of his career. On Sunday against the Sun Devils, Babineau drove in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning for the Bruins, and the game-winning run in the 10th.
No Panic Button: Down 10-8 on Sunday in the bottom of the 10th inning to ASU, and facing the daunting task of coming back against the No. 10 team in the nation, UCLA did not panic. Senior Chris Jensen started the late-inning rally with a lead-off double, and freshman Blair Dunlap drew a tough walk on a full-count to give the Bruins two base runners. Senior Sean Smith then laid down a perfect bunt for a base hit to load the bases. Decker's clutch pinch hit double tied the game at 10-10, and Babineau's hit to third base gave the Bruins their first come-from-behind win of the season.
Bring It: This season, UCLA isn't backing down from anyone which shows in the toughness of its schedule. The Bruins are set to play 32 games scheduled against teams that competed in the NCAA Regional Championships last season, with 11 teams listed in this year's preseason top-25 rankings.
UCLA will take on 12 teams that competed in the NCAA Regional Championships last year (Miami, Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, NC State, Ole Miss, UNLV, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Stanford, and Oregon State), and will have 18 games during the season against NCAA Super Regional participants (Miami, Cal State Fullerton, Ole Miss, Arizona State, USC, Oregon State).
The Bruins' tough schedule was noted with the No. 1 strength of schedule nod by Boyd's World, a baseball statistics internet site.
Up Next: No. 22 UCLA will travel to Berkeley, Calif., for a three-game series against the California Golden Bears starting Friday, April 28.