March 31, 2009
LOS ANGELES - UCLA concludes its brief four-game homestand when it faces Loyola Marymount on Wednesday evening. UCLA (10-14, 4-2 Pac-10) will send sophomore left-hander Matt Grace (2-1, 4.71) to the mound against Loyola Marymount (16-13), which followed a 10-game losing streak with eight consecutive victories before Tuesday's 19-8 loss to UC Irvine. One year ago, UCLA won its only meeting against Loyola Marymount, 6-2.
SERIES VS. LOYOLA MARYMOUNT: UCLA leads, 44-43-1
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: UCLA, one win
UCLA returns to the road this weekend, opening a three-game Pac-10 series at Washington State (10-12, 2-1 Pac-10) on Friday at 5:30 p.m. The Bruins enter a stretch of seven road contests in an eight-game span from April 3-14. Last May, the Bruins swept a three-game series against the Cougars at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA won each of the final two games of that series by one run.
SERIES VS. WASHINGTON STATE: UCLA leads, 35-15
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: UCLA, four wins
Wednesday, April 1 - 6 p.m. (at UCLA)
LMU - TBD
UCLA - Matt Grace, LHP, So. (2-1, 4.71)
Friday, April 3 - 5:30 p.m. (at WSU)
UCLA - Gerrit Cole, RHP, Fr. (2-2, 3.52)
WSU - Matt Way, LHP, Sr. (3-2, 1.58)
Saturday, April 4 - 2 p.m. (at WSU)
UCLA - Charles Brewer, RHP, Jr. (1-2, 4.55)
WSU - Chad Arnold, RHP, So. (2-1, 4.34)
Sunday, April 5 - 12 p.m. (at WSU)
UCLA - Trevor Bauer, RHP, Fr. (3-3, 2.06)
WSU - Jared Prince, RHP, Sr. (1-2, 3.62)
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- UCLA has won each of its last three weekend series and has two wins in its last three midweek games.
- The Bruins play 22 of their first 33 games away from Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
- UCLA has won eight of its last 12 games, including road series victories at East Carolina and USC.
- Junior Casey Haerther leads UCLA with a .347 batting average and 21 RBI through 24 games.
- Freshman Gerrit Cole has totaled a team-leading 43 strikeouts in 30.2 innings, making six starts.
- Freshman Trevor Bauer has compiled 37 strikeouts in a team-high 39.1 innings, going 3-3 with a 2.06 ERA.
Junior Casey Haerther leads the Bruins' offense with a .347 average, having totaled five homers and 21 RBI in 24 games. Haerther captured Pac-10 Player of the Week honors (week of March 16-23) after having batted .500 (7-for-14) with two home runs, eight RBI and five runs in three games at USC. The resident of Chatsworth, Calif., clubbed a grand slam to cap an eight-run ninth inning in a 14-4 win at USC (March 21). He initiated UCLA's scoring in a 17-2 victory March 23 with a three-run homer before finishing 4-for-4 with three runs. He belted his third home run in four games March 25 at Pepperdine, leading UCLA to a 7-2 win.
RETIRING THE SIDE
Right-hander Trevor Bauer has compiled a 2.06 ERA with 37 strikeouts and just 12 walks in a team-leading 39.1 innings. Bauer has pitched in 11 games, having made nine appearances out of the bullpen. Sporting a 3-3 record and two saves, Bauer earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors (week of March 24-30) after having earned two wins and totaled 12 strikeouts in 13.1 innings. Bauer, who enrolled at UCLA in January 2009 after having graduated one semester early from Hart High School (Newhall, Calif.), has registered a 3-1 record, 1.44 ERA and .193 opponent batting average in his last eight outings (31.2 innings pitched).
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Freshman Gerrit Cole ranks fourth among all Pac-10 pitchers with 43 strikeouts, the highest total on UCLA's staff. Slated to start Friday evening at Washington State, Cole has logged a 2-2 record and 3.52 ERA in his first six starts. The right-hander from Santa Ana, Calif., is currently averaging 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Cole totaled a season-best 12 strikeouts in five innings at East Carolina (March 13), before being forced to prematurely exit the game due to a rain delay in Greenville, N.C. He notched his first win in conference play at USC in the Bruins' Pac-10 opener on March 21, logging six strikeouts and one walk in five innings.
Following Wednesday's non-conference game against Loyola Marymount, UCLA will embark on an eight-game stretch featuring seven games on the road. In addition to playing a three-game set at Washington State (April 3-5), the Bruins will play three games the following weekend at Stanford (April 9-11) before driving south to face San Diego State the evening on Tuesday, April 14. UCLA played 14 of its first 21 contests on the road, finishing that span with a 5-2 record on a recent seven-game road trip (at East Carolina, USC and Pepperdine).
Nine of UCLA's first 24 games have come against teams ranked in Baseball America's weekly top-25 poll, as ranked during the week of competition. In all, 14 of those games have been played versus opponents ranked in the top-30 in at least one major college baseball poll (Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball). When Collegiate Baseball released its preseason top-40 poll, UCLA's schedule featured 51 of 56 games against teams either ranked in or receiving votes in the publication's preseason poll. UCLA's 2009 schedule has been ranked the most challenging in the nation by Boyd's World, a nationally-respected strength of schedule ranking service.
Next week, UCLA returns home for one midweek game, as the Bruins host UC Irvine on Tuesday, April 7. The following day, UCLA hits the road for a three-game series at Stanford, beginning Thursday, April 9. The Bruins' games in Palo Alto, Calif., begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday before a 1 p.m. start Saturday in the series finale. All three games at Stanford will feature a live audio broadcast, available at uclabruins.com. UCLA's final game at Stanford (Saturday, April 9) will be aired live across the nation on CBS College Sports.
KEEP ON RUNNIN'
Senior infielder Eddie Murray leads UCLA with 25 runs in 24 games. Murray enters Wednesday's game against Loyola Marymount having compiled a .316 batting average, including eight doubles, two triples, two home runs and 14 RBI. Murray leads UCLA with a .480 on-base percentage, which ranks fifth among all Pac-10 players (through Monday, March 30). The former standout infielder at Gahr High School has scored at least one run in 13 of the Bruins' last 14 contests, including six two-run games in that span.
Senior infielder Cody Decker earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors March 17 after having batted .333 (6-for-18) with four homers and 10 RBI in five games the previous week. Decker leads UCLA with seven home runs, currently tied for fifth-most in the Pac-10 (along with Washington State's Derek Jones). The Santa Monica, Calif., resident went 5-for-12 (.417) with three home runs, eight RBI and four runs in two days (three games) at East Carolina. UCLA overcame a 9-4 deficit in game one on March 13, as Decker led the way with two home runs and five RBI (third multiple-home run game of his career).
UCLA's 17-2 win at USC on Monday proved to be a milestone victory in the crosstown rivalry's all-time series. The Bruins set a UCLA program record for margin of victory against the Trojans in the historic, 82-year history of the baseball rivalry. UCLA's previous high for margin of victory against USC was 14 runs, established in an 18-4 victory on May 17, 1955. Monday evening's win also handed UCLA its ninth win over USC in the teams' last 12 meetings. Additionally, UCLA has won three of the last four season series against USC and has not dropped a season series to the Trojans since 2005 (tied, 2-2, in 2008).
Junior right-hander Charles Brewer earned the victory at USC on March 23, limiting the Trojans to two runs and six hits in 6.1 innings. Brewer, who exited the ballgame leading 15-1 with one runner on base, registered seven strikeouts and issued four walks at Dedeaux Field. The resident of Paradise Valley, Ariz., has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his eight outings (six starts) this spring. Entering this week's action against Loyola Marymount and Washington State, Brewer has logged a 1-2 record and 4.55 ERA, totaling 34 strikeouts in 29.2 innings this spring.
SAVING THE DAY
Junior left-hander Gavin Brooks has earned two saves this season, with runners on base in both situations. Brooks, who has compiled a 2.25 ERA in his last seven outings (UCLA's last 13 games), notched his first career save in the Bruins' first game at East Carolina (March 13). With one out and runners at first and second, Brooks recorded two strikeouts looking to lead UCLA to a 10-9 win. He entered Sunday's series finale against Arizona with nobody out and runners at first and second in the ninth inning. Brooks made a play on a groundout along the third base line before recording a strikeout to end the game, as UCLA won, 8-6.
GOT `EM SWINGING
Through Monday's action, UCLA's pitching staff ranks second in the Pac-10 with 226 strikeouts. Arizona State leads the way with 231, and California follows with 225. The Bruins have recorded 10 or more strikeouts in six of their last nine games. UCLA totaled a season-best 17 strikeouts in an 8-6 victory in the second game of a three-game series at East Carolina (March 13). In that contest, freshmen Gerrit Cole (12) and Trevor Bauer (5) combined for the 17 punchouts. UCLA leads all Pac-10 teams with 62 strikeouts on the mound in conference games. The Bruins' staff has logged 62 strikeouts in just 53.0 innings in Pac-10 play.
IN HONOR OF JACK
A circular black patch with the initials "JG" adorn the left sleeve of UCLA's uniforms in 2009, in honor of the late Jack Gifford. Among the UCLA baseball program's most loyal and passionate supporters, Gifford played for the Bruins alongside former head coach Gary Adams in the early 1960s. Gifford, who passed away on Jan. 11, 2009, and his wife Rhodine generously funded the construction of UCLA's state-of-the-art hitting facility. Named in their honor - the Jack and Rhodine Gifford Hitting Facility - the practice complex stands 23-feet high behind the right field fence and spans 10,500-square feet.