Jan. 31, 2006
Fresno State vs. UCLA - Friday, Feb. 3 at 6 p.m.
Fresno State vs. UCLA - Saturday, Feb. 4 at 4 p.m.
Fresno State vs. UCLA - Sunday, Feb. 5 at 1 p.m.
Get After It: The UCLA Bruins open the 2006 season this week when the Fresno State Bulldogs pay a visit to Jackie Robinson Stadium for a three-game series beginning Friday. This is the third-consecutive season that UCLA and Fresno State will face off, with the Bruins owning a 4-2 series advantage since 2004, and a 13-3 advantage over the Bulldogs since 1975.
Opening Week Success: Since the start of the 2000 season, UCLA has won five of six season opening series, posting a 12-6 record during that span.
About the Bulldogs: The Fresno State Bulldogs enter this weekend's series with a 0-3 record. Fresno State opened up its 2006 campaign last weekend at Cal Poly, and dropped three games to the Mustangs (3-6, 1-4, 1-4). After the Bulldogs' series with the Bruins, they will return home for a 25-game home stand beginning next week against Pepperdine. After their first three games of the season, the Bulldogs are hitting a combined .295 (31-105) from the plate, with six doubles, one triple and 10 RBI. Fresno State currently has six players batting over .300 entering Friday, led by Kent Sakamoto at .429 (6-14) and Christian Vitters (.417, 5-12). On the mound, the Bulldogs have a combined 6.75 ERA, with 26 strikeouts in 24.0 innings pitched, with a .278 opponent batting average. Fresno State ace Doug Fister posted nine strikeouts in 5.0 innings last week against Cal Poly in a losing effort.
Savage vs. Fresno State: In his four year coaching career, head coach John Savage owns a 5-4 career record versus Fresno State, including a 2-1 mark against the Bulldogs at the helm of the Bruins.
Stepping Up: Junior Hector Ambriz will be looked upon as a leader for the Bruins both on the mound and at the plate. The 6-2 right-hander will try to follow an impressive sophomore campaign in which he hit .338 (53-157) with one home run, 14 doubles, and 18 RBI. Ambriz also posted a team-best 84 strikeouts in 105.0 innings last season, and needs just one more K to tally his 150th career whiff.
Mr. Consistency: Senior Brett McMillan will try to add to his already impressive career line in his final season of collegiate baseball. Entering his fourth season at UCLA, McMillan is batting .283 (174-615) with 21 home runs, 30 doubles, and 104 RBI in 167 games played. Last season, McMillan posted a team-best 54 hits, with seven bombs and 33 RBI.
Still Impressive: It might have only been an exhibition game against UCLA alums, but junior Dave Huff didn't let that stop him from showing what he's got. In 4.0 innings of work on Saturday against the UCLA "Young-Timers" alumni squad, the 6-2 left-hander tallied 10 Ks, while allowing only one hit on 56 pitches.
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.