May 22, 2006
UCLA vs. UC Irvine - Jackie Robinson Stadium, May 23 at 6 p.m., Jason Novak, RHP (2-1, 5.40) vs. Gary Nakashima, RHP (2-1, 4.17)
Get After It: The UCLA baseball team (30-22, 12-9 Pac-10) hosts the UC Irvine Anteaters (34-20, 9-9 Big West) in the final home game of the regular season for the Bruins at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Tuesday, May 23 at 6 p.m. The Bruins have won 15 of their last 21 home games, and are looking to defeat UCI for the second time in seven days.
41 Days Later: Tuesday's matchup between the Bruins and the Anteaters is a makeup game from the originally scheduled contest between the two schools on April 4. That game was postponed due to rain.
Stanford Recap: UCLA won its sixth-consecutive home series of the season by winning two of three games from Stanford in a crucial Pac-10 series this past weekend. The Bruins took the first game, 8-1, lost by a score of 6-2 in the second game, and won the series on Sunday, 8-7, in dramatic fashion on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning by junior Tim Stewart
About the Anteaters: The UC Irvine Anteaters enters Tuesday's game with a 34-20 overall record and a 9-9 mark in the Big West. UCI is coming off of a three-game series win at Cal State Northridge this past weekend, as the Anteaters won the final two games against the Matadors (3-0, 3-1). As a team, UC Irvine hits .281 (501-1782) with 16 home runs, 252 RBI, 285 runs scored, and 103 stolen bases in 143 attempts. The Anteater pitching staff owns a 3.38 team ERA with 384 strikeouts in 487.1 innings pitched while limiting opponents to a .263 batting average. Head Coach Dave Serrano is in his second season at the helm of the Anteater program.
The UC Irvine-UCLA Series: UCLA leads the all-time series with UC Irvine with a mark of 36-20-1. UCLA knocked off UC Irvine on the road 8-4 last week. The Bruins swept the Anteaters last year in a home-and-home series, winning 3-1 at home on April 26, and 11-1 at UC Irvine on May 10. When UC Irvine restarted its baseball program in 2002, led by head coach John Savage, the Anteaters were 4-0 against the Bruins.
Turning Point: UCLA's season has made a change for the better since the Bruins played Long Beach State on Feb. 28. Entering that February game, UCLA was 5-9 overall and fresh off being swept in three-games by Cal State Fullerton. The Bruins knocked off the No. 15 Dirtbags (6-3) that day, and went on to sweep No. 17 NC State on the road. Since Feb. 28, UCLA is 25-13 (.657).
Punch First: UCLA is quite successful when making the scoreboard light up first in a game. So far this season, the Bruins are 17-5 when scoring in the first inning, and 20-7 when scoring before the opposition in a game. UCLA is 10-15 when opponents score first in a game, and oddly enough, is 11-4 record when opponents score in the first inning.
In the Fridge: When UCLA has a lead late in the ball game, the Bruins are pretty consistent at sealing the deal. So far this season, UCLA is 27-3 when leading after six innings of play, and a perfect 28-0 when owning the lead after eight innings. Four different Bruins have two-or-more saves on the year, led by Senior Josh Roenicke with four. On the other side of things, UCLA is 1-15 when trailing after six innings and 0-20 when behind after eight innings of play.
Rank This: The UCLA baseball team was ranked in the national polls for the week of April 24-30. The Bruins entered the week ranked No. 22 in the nation by Baseball America, and No. 25 by the Rosenblatt Report. This week marked the first time since March of 2001 that UCLA has been ranked in the Top-25 by Baseball America.
Rank That: 18 of the Bruins' first 22 games this season were against nationally ranked opposition, with a streak of 12-consecutive games versus ranked opponents once in effect. UCLA is 11-10 against ranked opposition on the season, and owns a series sweep of then-No. 17 ranked NC State on the road, and home series wins against No. 19 Ole Miss and No. 10 Arizona State. The Bruins also swept Long Beach State in a home-in-home series for the first time since 1995.
Speaks For Itself: UCLA ranks in this week at No. 25 in the national RPI rankings, with a third-ranked strength of schedule.
Magic Numbers: So far this season, UCLA is 27-5 when scoring five or more runs in a ball game, and owns a 15-0 record when holding opponents to two runs or less. The Bruins are also 22-5 this season when recording 10 or more hits in a game.
1-2 Step: UCLA has a knack for scoring runs early. So far this season, the Bruins have outscored the opposition 87-45 in the first two innings, outscoring opponents 50-24 in the first inning of games alone.
Ba Boom: The Bruins have ripped 43 long balls in their last 39 games, a stretch that included home runs in 13-consecutive games from Feb. 26-March 19. UCLA has 51 home runs on the season, good for second in the Pac-10. 14 different Bruins have smacked round-trippers so far this season, with eight players already owning five-or-more home runs on the year (Ambriz 5, Babineau 5, Crawford 5, Decker 5, Jensen 5, McMillan 6, Smith 5, Stewart 6). UCLA is 22-8 this season when a Bruin homers in a game.
Big Innings: UCLA likes to score its runs in bunches, as the Bruins have scored three or more runs in an inning 45 times this season. 159 of UCLA's 318 total runs (50 percent) this season have come when posting three or more runs in an inning. Scoring three or more runs in an inning in a game translates into success for UCLA, as the Bruins are 24-2 this season when scoring three or more runs in an inning. UCLA scored a season-high seven runs in an inning against NC State (March 5).
UCLA scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning in Friday's game against Stanford to cruise to an 8-1 win over the Cardinal. In Sunday's game against Stanford, UCLA used a six-run fifth inning to erase a 5-0 deficit.
Lotta Action: UCLA has scored eight-or-more runs in five of the last six games, and has recorded 11-or-more hits in six of the last seven games.
Good D: UCLA's defense has been superb all year, as the Bruins entered this week ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 Conference with a .976 fielding percentage, a top-10 mark in the nation.
Multi-hitters: UCLA hitters are very efficient at knocking the ball around the park more than once in a game. 13 different Bruins have at least five or more multi-hit games, seven different Bruins have at least 10 multi-hit games, and 16 different Bruins have recorded multiple hits in a game this season a total of 146 times. Freshman Brandon Crawford leads the team with 21 multi-hit games, and senior Chris Jensen is second on the squad with 20.
Eight different Bruins record multiple hits in the three-game Stanford series for a combined total of 10 times.
Getting Past First: UCLA has knocked an extra base hit in 48 of its 52 games so far this year. The Bruins have smacked 175 extra base hits with 111 doubles, 13 triples, and 51 home runs. UCLA has hit at least one double in its last 23-conscutive games, a season-high, posting 59 two-baggers in that span. UCLA hit five home runs, seven doubles, and two triples in their three-game series against Stanford. The Bruins are 23-8 when they post three-or-more extra base hits in a game.
Home Cook'n: The Bruins are 18-12 at home so far this season and 15-6 in their last 21 games at JRS. In the last 21 home games, the Bruins are hitting .319 (231-725) as a team with 29 home runs, 155 RBI, and 172 runs scored for an 8.2 runs-per-game average. On the season, UCLA is hitting .304 (307-1010) with 36 home runs and 211 runs scored for a 7.0 runs-per-game average.
Six Pack: UCLA defeated Stanford twice in a three-game series this past weekend to win its sixth-straight three-game home series of the season. Since 1975, that feat has never been accomplished.
Stew On This: Junior Tim Stewart lifted the Bruins to a crucial Pac-10 series win over visiting Stanford on Sunday with his bat. The Santa Ana, Calif., native hit two clutch home runs with four RBI in the game to give the Bruins an 8-7 win over the Cardinal. With the Bruins down 5-3 in the fifth inning, Stewart connected for a three-run home run to left field to put the Bruins up 6-5, as UCLA gained the lead for the first time after being down 6-0. Stewart would win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning in dramatic fashion. With the game tied at 7-7 and two outs, Stewart drove a 0-1 pitch over the left center wall for a game-winning walk off home run to win the game for the Bruins. On the season, Stewart is hitting .314 (32-102) with a team-best six home runs, 25 RBI, and 21 runs scored. Stewart is the first Bruin this season to hit multiple home runs in a game.
Getting Some Props: UCLA has garnered Pac-10 Player of the Week honors five times so far this season. Every pitcher in the Bruin starting rotation has earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors, as junior Hector Ambriz (March 14), Dave Huff (April 25), and Tyson Brummett (March 7) have each been recognized as the conference's top hurler. Ambriz has also been named the Pac-10's Player of the Week (March 21), and Chris Jensen was named Pac-10 Player of the Week on May 16.
The Big Four: UCLA would not be in the position it is in this season without the play of its senior class. Four seniors in particular have led the way for a once young and inexperienced Bruin team. So far this season, seniors Chris Jensen, Brett McMillan, Josh Roenicke, and Sean Smith have combined for much of UCLA's offensive production. These four seniors have combined for 179 of the team's 517 hits (35 percent), 107 of the team's 285 RBI (38 percent) and 110 of the team's 318 runs scored (35 percent).
Batter Up: Simply put - all freshman Jermaine Curtis does is get on base. In the series against Stanford, Curtis hit .545 (6-11) at the plate with three runs scored, and an impressive .615 on-base percentage. In his last 19 games, Curtis is batting .452 (28-62) with a .543 on-base percentage and 18 runs scored. Curtis also leads the team with 11 hit by pitches, and is second on the squad with 21 walks.
Freshman Impact: Head Coach John Savage started five freshmen in the lineup on Sunday against Stanford, marking the 13th time this season UCLA has put five or more freshman in the starting lineup.
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).
So far this season, UCLA is 18-11 against those teams.
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: UCLA will next play at Oregon State in a three-game series against the Beavers for a shot at a share of the Pac-10 Conference Title. The first game is on Friday, May 26 at 5 p.m.