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UCLA Baseball Kicks Off 2004 Season
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  02/02/2004

Feb. 2, 2004

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This Week: February 3, vs. UC Riverside, 3:00 p.m., Jackie Robinson Stadium
Chad Decker, LHP vs. Casey Janssen, RHP

February 7, vs. Alumni (Exhibition), Jackie Robinson Stadium
Home Run Contest, 11:00 a.m.
Old Timers Game (1930-1979 Alumni), 11:30 a.m.
Young Timers Game (1980-2003 Alumni), 12:30 a.m.
2004 Bruins vs. UCLA Pros, 2:00 p.m.

2004 Outlook: After 29 years at the helm of the UCLA Baseball program, Bruin Head Coach Gary Adams will depart from Westwood following the 2004 season. This year's team will look to send Coach Adams out on a high note as the Bruins aim for a postseason berth for the first time since 2000.

With nine position starters and two of last years' weekend pitching starters returning, the season looks bright for the Bruins. UCLA will also add two Division I transfers, a 2003 Junior College All-American and two CIF Players of the Year to its already potent arsenal.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Denove will return to the Bruin lineup after missing the last 20 games of the season due to a broken collar bone. After hitting .319 and making 37 starts behind the plate last season, the Agoura native will call the pitches for the Bruin staff in 2004.

Returning at first base are two All-America selections as Wes Whisler and Brett McMillan will once again share time at first. Whisler, who will get the start at first when he isn't on the mound, was named to Baseball America's Preseason All-America Second-team prior to the 2004 season and boasts strong credentials at the plate and in the field. Errorless in Pac-10 play last season, the Noblesville, Indiana native is also one of the top Bruin threats at the plate.

McMillan, who was honored by Collegiate Baseball with a spot on its Freshman All-America Team in 2003, will take over for Whisler on his pitching days. Also the leading candidate at the designated hitter spot, McMillan brings steady offensive numbers with him to the plate.

After starting 58 of UCLA's 59 games at second base last season, senior Preston Griffin will return to the middle infield for UCLA in 2004. Named the teams' Best Defensive Player following the 2003 campaign, Griffin is one of the best fielders on the roster. He is also a powerful threat at the plate, after belting eight homers last season.

Last year's starter Ryan McCarthy will return to the Bruin lineup after starting 53 games at shortstop in 2003. A skilled infielder and a dangerous hitter, McCarthy provides a perfect combination for Adams.

Senior co-captain Brandon Averill will return to action at the hot corner for the Bruins in 2004 after an outstanding season in 2003. The Orange native hit .329 last season with 10 home runs that tied for tops on the team. He also became the third Bruin in history to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat on May 25, 2003.

After injuries have kept him off the field for two consecutive seasons, senior co-captain Chad Concolino should lead the outfield in the new season.

Junior Billy Susdorf returns to the lineup after having one of the best offensive seasons on the squad in 2003. The Newhall native hit .310 with 10 home runs and 12 doubles last year. After highly productive summer and fall campaigns, he looks to be a top candidate to start in the outfield.

Another returning starter from 2003, Matt Thayer will add another speedy pair of legs in the outfield. One of the Bruins' best base runners with nine stolen bases last season; Thayer also brings a steady approach to the plate.

The majority of the 2003 Bruin pitching staff will return for the 2004 campaign as the Bruin lost only five hurlers from last season. Along with the returning players, UCLA brings in two prized freshmen from the San Diego area.

Spearheading the Bruin staff will be senior right-hander Casey Janssen. Janssen, who led the team with 73 strikeouts a year ago, will be looked to provide leadership to a staff full of young arms.

All Pac-10 selection Wes Whisler will be the Bruins' top left-handed threat after making a team-high 15 starts in 2003. His 5.66 ERA was the lowest among the weekend starters from last season despite throwing 82.2 innings, the most on the staff.

Looking to earn a spot in the weekend rotation is sophomore right hander Hector Ambriz. With some of the best young talent on the team, Ambriz was quite effective in his freshman campaign throwing 41 strikeouts in 45.2 innings of work. The Placentia native made 12 appearances in 2003, including five spot starts.

Right-hander Bryan Beck will bring his 6-6 frame to the mound for UCLA after being used primarily in relief work last season. His 4.50 ERA is the lowest among the returning Bruin hurlers.

Whisler Named Preseason All-American: Junior utility player Wes Whisler was named a second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America and a honorable mention selection by collegebaseballinsider.com prior to the 2004 season.

The Noblesville, Indiana native hit .310 last season with nine home runs and a team-high 70 hits. Whisler, who was an All Pac-10 First Team selection after the 2003 season, was also a team leader on the mound. He posted a 5.66 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 15 starts.

Prior to the 2003 season, Whisler earned first-team honors from Baseball America, along with picking up third-team honors after his freshman campaign in 2002. The publication also honored the lefty as its top prospect out of the Cape Cod League during the summer of 2002.

Adams to be Inducted into ABCA Hall of Fame: UCLA Head Coach Gary Adams, who is entering his 30th year at the helm of the Bruin program, will be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on January 7, 2005 at the ABCA National Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

Induction into the ABCA Hall of Fame is the highest honor given to college baseball coaches. Upon entering, Adams will join current Hall of Fame coaches like Mark Marquess of Stanford and Jack Smitheran of UC Riverside, along with former coaches like Rod Dedeaux of USC and Jerry Kindall of Arizona. Former UCLA Head Coach Art Reichle is also a member of the ABCA Hall of Fame.

During his 29 seasons (1975-03) at UCLA, Adams, 64, has compiled a record of 949-792-7. The Bruins have participated in the NCAA playoffs seven times in the last 14 years, reaching the College World Series in 1997 and the Super Regional in 2000. No less than 38 of his Bruins have reached the Major Leagues, the highest total of any active collegiate baseball coach.

Including his five seasons (1970-74) at UC Irvine, his record is 1,137-862-12. He won the NCAA Division II NCAA championship in 1973 and 1974.

Tentative Lineup-2003 Notes
1B Brett McMillan (6-5, 225, L/R, So.) - Freshman All-American
2B Preston Griffin (5-11, 184, R/R, Sr.) - Led Bruins with 44 RBI
SS Ryan McCarthy (6-3, 180, R/R, Jr.) - Hit seven homers in 2003.
3B Brandon Averill (6-4, 200, R/R, Sr.) - Tops on the team with .644 slugging%
LF Matt Thayer (5-10, 180, R/L, Jr.) - Led team with nine stolen bases
CF Chad Concolino (5-11, 185, R/R, Sr.) - One of the 2004 co-captains
RF Billy Susdorf (6-1, 215, R/R, Jr.) - Tied for team-lead with 10 homers
C Chris Denove (6-1, 202, R/R, So.) - Hit .319 with six home runs
DH Wes Whisler (6-5, 237, L/L, Jr.) -Second-Team Preseason All-American
P Casey Janssen (6-4, 210, R/R, Sr.) - Led team with 73 strikeouts and six wins


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