March 16, 2006
UCLA vs. San Diego State - Jackie Robinson Stadium, March 17 at 6 p.m., Hector Ambriz, RHP (3-3, 3.58) vs. Justin Masterson, RHP (2-3, 3.30)
UCLA vs. San Diego State - Jackie Robinson Stadium, March 18 at 2 p.m., Dave Huff, LHP (2-2, 3.00) vs. Bruce Billings, RHP (0-2, 6.17)
UCLA vs. San Diego State - Jackie Robinson Stadium, March 18 at 1 p.m., Tyson Brummett, RHP (3-3, 4.42) vs. Will Miller, RHP (1-0, 2.70)
Get After It: The UCLA baseball team (12-11) hosts the San Diego State Aztecs (6-17) for a three-game series beginning Friday, March 17. The Bruins will play their final non-conference series of the season, and will complete their seven-game home stand.
UNLV Recap: UCLA's offense exploded against UNLV on Tuesday night in a16-2 win for the Bruins. The 16 runs is a season-high, as the Bruins homered for the 10th-straight game, and went one-game over .500 for the first time all season.
About the Aztecs: The San Diego State University Aztecs enter this weekend's series with a 6-17 overall record while riding a current seven-game losing streak. The Aztecs are 3-12 so far this season on the road, but own a series win against then-ranked No. 12 Pepperdine, and wins over USC and Cal Poly when those two teams were ranked. San Diego State hits .281 (224-796) as a team with 15 home runs, 104 RBI, 120 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 26 attempts. Paul Smyth leads San Diego State with a .379 (33-87) batting average, with 33 runs, 12 extra base hits, and 16 RBI. The Aztec pitching staff carries a 6.98 team ERA with 157 strikeouts in 196.0 innings pitched, while allowing a .319 opponent batting average. Head Coach Tony Gwynn is in his fourth season at the helm of the San Diego State program.
The San Diego State-UCLA Series: UCLA owns a 40-25-2 all-time series advantage over San Diego State. Both schools played last year at Tony Gwynn Stadium on April 19, a 9-6 loss for the Bruins. The Aztecs have won the last two games in the series, but have not won a game at Jackie Robinson Stadium since 1998. The Bruins and the Aztecs have not played a three-game series in a season since 1977.
Rank This: UCLA will play back-to-back non-ranked opponents for only the second time this season. The Bruins' game against UNLV was its first game against an unranked team after 12 consecutive games against ranked foes. 18 of the Bruins' first 22 games this season have been against nationally ranked opposition. UCLA is 9-9 against ranked opposition on the season.
Speaks For Itself: UCLA ranked in this week at No. 18 in the national RPI rankings, with a twelfth-ranked strength of schedule.
Get Familiar: UCLA gets a glimpse of life in the Mountain West Conference this week. The Bruins will play four games against Mountain West competition by weeks end, first in Tuesday's game against UNLV and then with its three-game series against San Diego State this weekend.
Magic Numbers: So far this season, UCLA is 11-3 when scoring five or more runs in a ball game, and owns an 8-0 record when holding opponents to two runs or less. The Bruins are also 11-3 this season when recording eight or more hits in a game.
Over It: UCLA's win over UNLV on Tuesday put the ball club at 12-11, meaning the Bruins are over .500 for the first time this season.
Rebounding: UCLA seemed to rebound nicely after being swept by Cal State Fullerton in three games three weeks ago. Since that series, UCLA has won seven of its last nine games.
Home Run Tear: If you drive on the 405 Freeway past Jackie Robinson Stadium, you drive at your own risk of being nailed by flying baseballs launched from UCLA bats. The Bruins have been on a torrid long-ball pace, cracking jacks in 10-consecutive games. In that 10-game span, UCLA has nailed 17 home runs, upping its season total to 26, good for second in the Pac-10 Conference. The Bruins have already topped last year's season total for home runs, 21, by five in half the number of games. 12 different Bruins have smacked round-trippers so far this season, with eight players already owning two-or-more home runs on the year (Ambriz 2, Crawford 2, Decker 2, Jensen 4, McMillan 4, Smith 2, Stewart 3, Taylor, Jr. 2). UCLA is 10-4 this season when a Bruin homers in a game.
Mashing: In UCLA's last nine games, the Bruins are batting .293 as a team at the plate with 17 home runs, 18 doubles, two triples, 63 RBI, and 68 runs scored, out scoring the opposition 68-31.
Shoving It: In the three-game series with Ole Miss, UCLA held the Rebels to a .238 (24-101) batting average, 90 points below its team average. Ole Miss came into the series batting .327. Bruin arms also recorded 35 strikeouts in 27.0 innings pitched, as Ole Miss batters struck out only 52 times in 13 games before playing UCLA. Against UNLV on Tuesday, UCLA pitching held the other Rebels to six hits resulting in a .176 batting average, and notched 11 strikeouts.
K-razy: UCLA pitching has been at its best as of late, probably a big reason for the Bruins' recent success. Bruin arms have recorded double-digit strikeouts against opponents in the last four-consecutive games (12, 11, 12, 11), and five of their last six games. The UCLA pitching staff has nine double-digit strikeout performances this season.
Good D: UCLA defense has been superb this year as the Bruins currently rank No. 1 in the Pac-10 Conference with a .978 fielding percentage.
Ambriz Honored: UCLA junior RHP Hector Ambriz was named the Pacific-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week for March 7-13, Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen announced Tuesday.
Ambriz, from Placentia, Calif., receives his first career Pac-10 honor after earning his third victory of the season with a dominating performance against No. 19 Ole Miss on Friday, leading UCLA to a 9-2 win.
Ambriz tossed a season-high 8.0 innings with a career-best 10 strikeouts, as he opened the game retiring the first 11-consecutive batters he faced. Ambriz finished his outing striking out five of last six Rebels that came to the plate, giving up only one run on three hits in the process.
The UCLA pitching staff has earned back-to-back Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors, as Ambriz follows last week's recipient Tyson Brummett. Ambriz earned UCLA's 39th Pac-10 honor all-time.
On Fire: Junior Hector Ambriz has been dealing on the mound and swinging it at the plate pretty well in the last nine games. During the last nine games, Ambriz is hitting .444 (12-27) at the plate with two home runs, seven RBI, and four runs scored, and has four multi-hit games. On the mound, Ambriz is 2-0 with a save, a 1.72 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 15.2 innings pitched in his last three outings. Ambriz leads the team with a .365 batting average, and is 3-3 with a 3.58 ERA.
Huff Stuff: Junior David Huff has been a workhorse for the Bruins so far this year. Huff currently leads the Pac-10 Conference with 45.0 innings pitched, and is third in the conference with 45 strikeouts. On the season, Huff is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA which is tops among UCLA starters.
Keep Their Headz Ringin: Freshman Brandon Crawford has had an impressive start to his first season as a collegian. Crawford is second on the team in batting average at .344, first in hits at 32, and second on the squad with 13 RBI and 15 runs scored. In Tuesday's game, Crawford went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, recording multiple hits in a team-leading 11 games so far this season.
The Man Behind the Mask: Freshman Ryan Babineau had a very solid three-game series against Ole Miss. In three games, Babineau hit .500 (5-10) at the plate with two doubles, a home run, five RBI and two runs scored. Babineau was able to raise his season batting average above the Mendoza line at .219 (14-64) with the weekend's effort. Babineau got the day off in Tuesday's game versus UNLV.
Stepping Up: Junior Eric Taylor, Jr. has made the most of his playing time. In the start at catcher against UNLV on Tuesday, Taylor, Jr. went 2-for-4 with a home run and a career-best five RBI. Taylor, Jr. has three hits on the season, two of which are home runs, and six RBI.
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: The Bruins will have a week off from action. UCLA will have an eight-day layoff before playing at UC Riverside on Tuesday, March 28.