Feb. 7, 2005
After six games and two series against top-50 teams (Cal Poly and Fresno State), UCLA is 3-3 with a .260 team batting average and 4.58 team ERA. The Bruins play their first midweek contest this week against UC Riverside (3-3) and will then play an away-home-away series with an upstart Cal State Northridge (2-1-1) squad. Since 1975, UCLA has gone 6-4 against the Highlanders, including a season-opening 4-1 victory in 2004. In 2003, UC Riverside got the best of the Bruins twice by scores of 8-3 and 10-6. Against Cal State Northridge, UCLA is 19-22-1 since 1975 and has not faced the Matadors since a season-opening home-home-away series in 2003. The Bruins took the final two games of that series by scores of 17-6 and 13-8.UCLA's first two weekends have been highlighted by strong starting pitching and clutch base hits. Bruin starters have lasted five-plus innings in four games and UCLA hitters are batting a collective .286 with runners on base. Hector Ambriz has been leading the way with a .444 average and 2.45 ERA.
February 8, vs. UC Riverside, 6:00 p.m., Jackie Robinson Stadium
Daniel Miltenberger, RHP, (1-0, 10.38 ERA) vs. Pat Cassa, LHP, (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
February 11, at Cal State Northridge, 2 p.m., Matador Field
Hector Ambriz, RHP, (1-0, 2.45 ERA) vs. Craig Baker, RHP, (1-0, 1.12 ERA)
February 12, vs. Cal State Northridge, 1 p.m., Jackie Robinson Stadium
Jimmy Brettl, LHP, (0-0, 1.23 ERA) vs. Bryan Beck, RHP, (0-0, 2.70 ERA)
Febrary 13, at Cal State Northridge, 1 p.m., Matador Field
Brant Rustich, RHP, (0-0, 4.32 ERA) vs. Joe Rocchio, RHP, (0-1, 4.22 ERA)
UCLA last started a season 3-3 in 2003 and went on to finish 28-31 and tied for fifth in the Pac-10... The Bruins now lead the all-time series with Fresno State 28-26 and are 13-3 since 1975... Chris Denove tied a career high with four RBI in the series finale against the Bulldogs; he has now accomplished the feat four times... Two Bruins recorded their first career hits at UCLA last weekend (Mike Metzger and Tommy Lansdon)... Junior closer Adam Simon (1-0, 2 saves) has allowed no runs and just one hit in his first 5.2 innings pitched... UCLA is 6-4 against UC Riverside all time but only 3-2 against the Highlanders since UCR moved to Division I in 2002... UCLA is 2-1 against UC Riverside at home... The Bruins are 19-22-1 against Cal State Northridge since 1975... Coach Savage is 4-5 against UCR and 2-7 against CSUN all-time as a head coach (both former Big West opponents)... The 7,593 fans last weekend at Fresno State marked the biggest three-game road attendance for UCLA since 8,029 saw the Bruins take on Hawaii for three in 2002.
UCLA Wins Series Against Fresno State
Sophomore right-hander Hector Ambriz set the tone on Friday with a dominating six inning performance, including eight strikeouts, as UCLA went on to take two of three road games from Fresno State.
While the Bruin bullpen struggled in the opener, the Bulldog's defense had even more trouble as Fresno State committed four errors en route to three unearned UCLA runs and a 7-4 Bruin victory. The middle of the Bruin lineup, Eric Taylor and Chris Denove, did most of the damage, going a combined 4-for-7 with three runs scored. Ambriz picked up his first victory after allowing just two runs on three hits and closer Adam Simon pitched a hitless final 2.1 innings for his second save.
On Saturday, the Fresno State offense erupted for a six run fifth inning that even a Bruin ninth-inning rally could not overcome. Fresno State's David Gomez launched a three-run home run and Will Thomas drilled a bases-clearing, three-RBI double in the decisive fifth for the Bulldogs. In the ninth, UCLA scored twice and had the potential tying run on deck but ultimately fell short 8-4.
In the finale, Denove struck in both the first and ninth innings for a combined, career high four RBI. Denove's base-clearing double in the first gave UCLA the early lead but Fresno State charged back and tied the contest with runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. But Denove's two-out RBI single in the ninth gave UCLA the lead for good as Simon would pitch another 2.0 scoreless innings to pick up the victory in relief.
Ambriz, Denove 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).
Recruiting Class Ranked Third Best In The Nation
Head Coach John Savage's first recruiting class at UCLA has been ranked third best in the country by Rivals.com, a national recruiting agency.
The Bruins' 2006 class of 12 signees includes three infielders, three outfielders, a catcher and six pitchers (three left-handers). Several players play multiple positions.
Perhaps the two biggest names among the 12 signees are national prospects shortstop Brandon Crawford and outfielder Johnny Drennen III. Three members of the class, Drennen (#22), Tim Murphy (#53) and Brian Kirwan (#79) have been listed as top-100 high school recruits by Baseball America and Perfect Game USA, a national recruiting agency. Ten of the players have been nationally ranked in the top 50 by TeamOne Baseball and Rivals.com.
The complete 2006 signing class includes Corey Ashner, Ryan Babineau, Tyson Brummett, Crawford, Robert Dickmann, Drennen, Blair Dunlap, Brian Kirwan, Tim Murphy, Eddie Murray, Jason Novak and Andy Suiter.