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Baseball Travels To Fresno State For Three Games
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  02/01/2005

Feb. 1, 2005

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Leading Off...
UCLA heads into the second weekend of 2005 with three games at Fresno State this weekend. Against Cal Poly, the Bruins won their second consecutive season-opener 7-4, but dropped the final two games 2-1 and 8-3 and currently sit with a 1-2 overall record. Sophomore Hector Ambriz led the UCLA charge at the plate going 5-for-9 over the weekend with three doubles and two RBI. He also hurled five effective innings in a no-decision on Friday.

On Deck
February 4, at Fresno State, 6:35 p.m., Pete Beiden Field
Hector Ambriz, RHP, (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Ryan Penn, RHP, (0-1, 5.40 ERA)
February 5, at Fresno State, 1:05 p.m., Pete Beiden Field
Bryan Beck, RHP, (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Brandon Miller (0-1, 16.20 ERA)
February 6, at Fresno State, 1:05 p.m., Pete Beiden Field
Brant Rustich, RHP, (0-0, 4.91 ERA) vs. Matt Garza, RHP, (0-1, 6.75 ERA)

What's Bruin
The Bruins are now 20-11 on opening day since 1975... UCLA's meeting with Cal Poly was the first since 1970... The series loss to the Mustangs was the first in school history... Small ball: UCLA converted six sacrifice bunts in the season's first three games - in 2004 the Bruins layed down 26 succesful sacrifices... Right-hander Bryan Beck notched his 100th career inning pitched as he recorded the first out of his start against Cal Poly last Saturday... Hector Ambriz set a new career high with three doubles in Saturday's season opener... Three Bruins recorded their first career hits at UCLA last weekend (Sean Smith, Eric Taylor, Nolan Rouse)... The Bruins are 27-24 against Fresno State all time and 11-2 since 1975... UCLA faced the Bulldogs last year for the first time since 1986... In 2004, UCLA took two of three at home by scores of 6-2, 13-11 and 2-3... The Bruins have not been to Fresno State since 1986 when UCLA swept 6-0, 6-3 and 13-6... UCLA made its first ever regional playoff appearance in 1979 at Fresno and finished 2-2 in second place... Coach Savage is 3-3 all-time as a head coach against Fresno State... In last years' three meetings between the Bruins and Bulldogs, catcher Chris Denove was 6-for-14 with five RBI... A combined 1,675 fans attended the three game series against Cal Poly.

Bruins Take One of Three From Cal Poly
The Bruins began the John Savage era a day late after Friday's scheduled season opener was postponed due to rain. But UCLA wasted no time getting Savage his first Bruin win as UCLA defeated Cal Poly 7-4 in game one of Saturday's season-opening doubleheader. Sophomore Hector Ambriz set the tone both on the mound and at the plate with a solid five inning pitching performance and a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate. UCLA used a four-run sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie, highlighted by Ambriz' two-RBI double which plated Will Penniall and Sean Smith.

Daniel Miltenberger picked up the victory with 2.1 effective innings out of the bullpen.

In the nightcap, both UCLA's Bryan Beck and Cal Poly's Garrett Olson offered strong outings on the mound as the Mustangs claimed a 2-1 victory. Beck surrendered one run on three hits over six innings, but Olson bettered him with an eight-plus inning performance, allowing just one run on six hits. Cal Poly got to Bruin reliever Scott Botterman in the seventh and pushed across the eventual winning run on a Brent Walker sacrifice fly.

UCLA took an early three run lead in Sunday's finale but could not hold it as the Mustangs scored eight unanswered after the fourth inning. Junior right fielder Josh Roenicke led the way at the plate for UCLA with a 2-for-3 performance, including a double and a run scored.

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 byThe 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.

School Record 10 Bruins Sign Professional Contracts After 2004
When 22nd round draft pick Kyle Wilson signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in August 2004, the Bruins 2004 college-to-pro class officially became the largest in school history. Joining free agent Preston Griffin and eight other drafted Bruins, Wilson became the 10th player from UCLA's 2004 squad to sign a professional contract.

In 2000, UCLA boasted an NCAA record 12 draftees, but only nine players went on to sign with their respective clubs. In addition to Wilson and Griffin, the eight other Bruin signees were (in order of draft selection): Wes Whisler, Casey Janssen, Bill Susdorf, Ryan McCarthy, David Johnson, Brandon Averill, Mike Svetlic and Matt Thayer.

New Coaching Staff Takes the Reins
Head coach John Savage begins his first season at UCLA in 2005, accompanied by first year assistants Pat Shine, Brian Green and Matt Jones. Shine and Jones both assisted under Savage previously at UC Irvine, where Savage served as head coach from 2001-2004.

While with the Anteaters, Savage compiled an 88-84-1 overall record and guided UCI to the school's first ever NCAA Regional appearance in 2004. Savage's first year as a head coach, 2002, was also the first year of competition in over 10 years for the UC Irvine program, meaning Savage was responsible for rebuilding the program from the ground up. Under his tutelage, the Anteaters finished over .500 in two of three seasons and at one point was ranked by Collegiate Baseball as the seventh best team in the nation.

Shine, the Bruins' new hitting instructor and recruiting coordinator, assisted Savage at UCI from 2001-2004 and was responsible for overseeing the hitters and outfielders. Prior to his time at Irvine, Shine held coaching posts with the University of New Mexico and California as well as serving on the coaching staffs of collegiate summers teams such as the Brewster Whitecaps , the St. Cloud Riverbats and the Topeka Capitals. While with the Riverbats, Shine was named the Northwoods League Manager of the Year in 1999 after leading his squad to a league record for wins.

Green, who served as an assistant at Hawaii from 2003-2004, will serve as UCLA's infield and baserunning coach. Aside from Hawaii, throughout Green's 11 seasons as an assistant coach he has spent time at the University of San Diego, Oregon State, Chapman, Cal Poly Pomona and Riverside Community College. He also served as the head coach of the Kenai Peninsula Oilers of the Alaskan Summer League in 2001 and 2002.

Jones assisted Savage at UCI in 2004 and has been called upon again by Savage to serve as an assistant/catching coach for UCLA in 2005. Jones began his coaching career at California as an undergrad assistant from 1997 to 1999 and eventually went on to serve as the head coach at Los Medanos College.

Bruins Capture 2,000th All-Time Win
The Bruins' regular season-ending victory against Oregon State on May 30, 2004, was not just the precursor to UCLA's first post-season win in four years, more notably it marked the university's 2,000 win all-time. Fittingly, it was UCLA junior Wes Whisler, who ranks among the career top ten at UCLA appearances and was eventually a 2nd round draft selection, who picked up the milestone 11-6 victory.

UCLA went on to go 2-2 at the NCAA Regional in Oklahoma City that season and enter 2005 with 2,002 total wins under its belt.

Jackie Robinson Gets a Facelift
Prior to the beginning of the 2005 season UCLA's home field for the past 25 years, Jackie Robinson Stadium, received a well-deserved cosmetic makeover at the behest of Head Coach John Savage. Along with upgraded coaching offices and player locker rooms, new batting cages were installed on the upper crest of the third base side of the stadium walkways and along the left field line down on the field. The upgraded cages feature new turf, new netting and major league quality dual-hitting stations. Also, the stadium's infield was re-sodded, a new hitter's eye was draped above the center field wall and the Bruin scoreboard and dugouts were repainted.

Dave Roberts Becomes 13th Bruin to Win a World Series
Ten former UCLA baseball players played Major League Baseball during the 2004 season and for the third straight year one of them won a World Series title. With speedy Bruin alum Dave Roberts on the roster, the Boston Red Sox won their first title in 86 years by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in four games last October. Roberts was instrumental in the Red Sox' historical comeback versus the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series as he stole a pivotal base and scored the winning run in Boston's game four comeback victory against the Bombers.

In 2003, alum Jeff Conine was the starting first baseman for the World Champion Florida Marlins and in 2002 Troy Glaus helped lead the Anaheim Angels to their first ever World Series title.

Fifty-four Bruin alums have gone on to play Major League Baseball and 13 of them have combined to be a part of 18 different championship clubs.

UCLA Among Top-10 In Producing Major League Talent
In 2004, UCLA had ten former players in the major league ranks - that's the fifth most by any school in the country. Only Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton (11), Stanford (12) and USC (14) had more alums playing in the bigs last season. The former Bruins playing Major League Baseball in 2004 ranged from 1986 team members like Todd Zeile (NY Mets) to 2000 team member Garrett Atkins (Colorado). The other eight former Bruins in the majors last year were Eric Byrnes (Oakland), Jeff Conine (Florida), Troy Glaus (Anaheim), Eric Karros (Oakland), Adam Melhuse (Oakland), Dave Roberts (Boston), Chase Utley (Philadelphia) and Eric Valent (NY Mets).


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