April 13, 2009
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA baseball team hits the road Tuesday for a non-conference game at No. 15 San Diego State (25-12). Tuesday's contest is slated to start at 6 p.m. at Tony Gwynn Stadium. UCLA (13-19) dropped a 10-6 decision at home to the Aztecs on Wednesday, March 11, in both teams' first of two meetings this spring. Last week, UCLA went 2-2 with a midweek victory versus then-No. 5 UC Irvine before winning one of three games at Stanford.
SERIES VS. SAN DIEGO STATE: UCLA leads, 44-30-2
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: San Diego State, one win
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, April 14 - 6 p.m. (at San Diego State)
UCLA - Garett Claypool, RHP, Jr. (0-0, 2.13)
SDSU - Nate Solow, LHP, Jr. (1-3, 5.40)
- UCLA has won three of its last five games, including an 8-3 win over then-No. 5 UC Irvine last Tuesday.
- The Bruins have spent six of the first eight weekends of the 2009 season playing on the road.
- Junior right-hander Garett Claypool will make his third start of the season Tuesday, the 15th of his career.
- Senior second baseman Eddie Murray leads UCLA's offense with a .493 on-base percentage and 29 runs.
- Senior first baseman Cody Decker has tallied 12 homers and 30 RBI, posting a .612 slugging percentage.
- The Bruins' pitching staff ranks second in the Pac-10 with 299 strikeouts (averaging 9.6 K/9 IP).
- Freshman right-hander Trevor Bauer has earned the victory in five of UCLA's last nine wins (5-3 overall record).
- Freshman right-hander Gerrit Cole leads UCLA with 58 strikeouts, averaging 12.0 K per nine innings.
TUESDAY IN SAN DIEGO
UCLA will send junior right-hander Garett Claypool to the mound Tuesday evening to face No. 15 San Diego State. Claypool enters Tuesday's game having registered 15 strikeouts and four walks in 12.2 innings, making eight appearances (two starts) in his junior season. The right-hander from West Hills, Calif., has yet to earn a decision in 2009, as UCLA has logged a 1-1 record in his two starts. Claypool has compiled 11 strikeouts and one walk in eight innings as a starter, limiting the opposition to three runs (two earned) and seven hits. San Diego State will counter with junior left-hander Nate Solow, who has logged a 1-3 record and 5.40 ERA.
RELIABLE IN RELIEF
Sophomore left-hander Rob Rasmussen earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors on Monday, after having gone 1-0 with one save and eight strikeouts in two relief appearances. Rasmussen earned the victory in relief last Tuesday against then-No. 5 UC Irvine, allowing one run and three hits in three innings. Four days later, he tossed three innings of one-hit ball, notching five strikeouts at Stanford to record his first career save. In his last four outings, Rasmussen has logged 17 strikeouts in 10.1 innings, surrendering just two runs and seven hits. Rasmussen enters the week having registered 41 strikeouts and 18 walks in 35.0 innings (10 games).
Senior first baseman Cody Decker has belted five home runs in the Bruins' last six games, pushing his season total to 12. Decker went 6-for-16 (.375) with three homers and seven RBI in four games last week. The senior from Santa Monica, Calif., hit the eventual game-winning two-run homer Tuesday in an 8-3 win over UC Irvine. Decker belted two home runs on Friday, including a go-ahead two-run shot, to help lead UCLA past Stanford, 8-5. With two homers in that game, Decker vaulted into a 10th-place tie in UCLA's record book with 38 career home runs, tied with Jim Auten (1976-79). Decker has become the first Bruin to hit at least six home runs in each of four seasons since current major leaguer Eric Byrnes belted 48 homers from 1995-98.
Tuesday's game at San Diego State marks UCLA's 22nd road contest in its first 33 games. The Bruins have played among the nation's most travel-intensive schedules. After opening the season hosting UC Davis (Feb. 20-22), UCLA spent three consecutive weekends away from the Pacific Time Zone - at the Houston College Classic (Feb. 28-March 1), at Oklahoma (March 6-8) and at East Carolina (March 13-14) - before returning to Los Angeles to open Pac-10 Conference play at USC. UCLA has just two weekend road trips remaining on its regular-season slate - at Oregon (May 1-3) and at Arizona State (May 22-24). In all, the Bruins will play 10 of their final 24 ballgames away from Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Freshman Gerrit Cole has started in the Bruins' weekend rotation since the season-opening series against UC Davis. Cole leads UCLA with 58 strikeouts in 43.1 innings, having limited the opposition to a .217 batting average. The right-hander from Orange Lutheran High School has gone 2-3 with a 4.15 ERA in eight starts. Through Sunday's games, Cole ranks fifth in the Pac-10 Conference with 58 strikeouts and ninth with a .217 opponent batting average. He logged a season-high 12 strikeouts in five innings at East Carolina before being forced out of the game due to a rain delay (March 13) in the second game of a doubleheader.
Senior second baseman Eddie Murray has thrived at the top of UCLA's lineup in 2009. Murray enters Tuesday's game at San Diego State having compiled a .317 batting average and .493 on-base percentage, totaling two homers, two triples, nine doubles and a team-high 29 runs in 31 games. The former standout at Gahr High School ranks third in the Pac-10 Conference with a .493 on-base percentage and is tied for seventh with 29 runs. Additionally, Murray is tied for second in walks (26, with Washington's Kyle Conley) and hit-by-pitch (10, wiht California's Dylan Tonneson). Murray primarily served as a backup infielder his first three seasons at UCLA before earning the starting second baseman role at the start of the 2009 campaign.
Next week, UCLA plays at UC Riverside on Tuesday before returning home to open a three-game series against No. 14 Oregon State on Friday, April 24. UCLA's series-opening ballgame against Oregon State at Jackie Robinson Stadium will be televised on a delayed basis on FSN Prime Ticket. The Bruins' three home games against Oregon State will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. The following week, UCLA hosts Long Beach State on Tuesday, April 28, before playing at Oregon from May 1-3.
Freshman right-hander Trevor Bauer has made an immediate impact with the pitching staff. Bauer, who graduated one semester early from Hart High School before enrolling at UCLA in January 2009, has logged a 5-3 record and 3.10 ERA in 14 games (four starts). He currently leads the staff with 52.1 innings, having registered 49 strikeouts and 12 walks. Bauer has earned the victory in five of UCLA's last nine wins, including three of the team's last four wins. Bauer's most complete performance came in a midweek start at then-No. 17 Pepperdine, when he fanned eight batters in eight innings, surrendering just two runs and six hits.
Junior right-hander Charles Brewer has made eight starts and two relief appearances this spring, collecting 43 strikeouts in 42.2 innings. The resident of Paradise Valley, Ariz., has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his 10 outings. Brewer's 43-strikeout total is the third-highest mark on the team, behind freshmen Gerrit Cole (58) and Trevor Bauer (49). He has compiled a 1-4 record and 4.22 ERA as a junior. Brewer recorded a season-high eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings at Oklahoma (March 7), surrendering three runs and five hits. Pitching at USC two weeks later (March 23), he limited the Trojans to two runs in 6.1 innings.
Junior Blair Dunlap has logged a .285 batting average as the Bruins' starting center fielder. Dunlap leads UCLA with 11 doubles in 32 games and is tied with two other Pac-10 players for a three-way third place tie in that category (with California's Michael Brady and Washington's Pierce Rankin). Dunlap ranks second on the Bruins' ballclub with 37 hits and third on the team with 22 runs. The native of Mission Viejo, Calif., leads UCLA with 11 stolen bases in 15 attempts (fifth-most stolen bases among all Pac-10 players). Dunlap earned All-Regional Team honors at Pepperdine in 2006 and at Cal State Fullerton in 2008.
CLOSING THE DOOR
Junior left-hander Gavin Brooks has notched a team-high three saves this season. Brooks, who has compiled a 2.33 ERA in his last 11 outings (UCLA's last 21 games), recorded 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 the series finale against Arizona (March 29) with no outs 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 Sunday, April 12, UCLA's pitching staff ranks second in the Pac-10 with 299 strikeouts. Arizona State leads the pack with 319 and California follows with 283. UCLA is currently averaging 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings, the second-best average in the conference. The Bruins have recorded 10 or more strikeouts in 14 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 ranks third in the Pac-10 with 111 strikeouts in conference games.
UCLA's 17-2 win at USC on Monday, March 23, 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. That 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 its crosstown rival since being swept in 2005 (tied, 2-2, in 2008).
MAJOR LEAGUE BRUINS
Four Bruins opened the 2009 season on major league rosters, and two former UCLA ballplayers began the year on the 15-day disabled list. Among those playing in the big-league ranks this spring include Garrett Atkins (Colorado Rockies), Eric Byrnes (Arizona Diamondbacks), Ben Francisco (Cleveland Indians) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia Phillies). Former UCLA standouts Troy Glaus (St. Louis Cardinals) and Casey Janssen (Toronto Blue Jays) have opened the 2009 campaign on the 15-day disabled list. UCLA also has two former players pitching at the triple-A minor league level - David Huff (Columbus Clippers, Cleveland affiliate) and Josh Roenicke (Louisville Bats, Cincinnati affiliate), who both starred at UCLA as recently as 2006.
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.