April 3, 2008
LOS ANGELES - The No. 23 UCLA baseball team continues Pac-10 play this weekend, hosting crosstown rival USC at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins have won each of their last six meetings against the Trojans, with the most recent win coming earlier this spring. UCLA defeated USC, 4-3, at Dedeaux Field in a non-conference meeting as part of the inaugural Urban Invitational on Sunday, March 2. Left-hander Tim Murphy takes the hill for UCLA on Friday evening, as the Bruins will face USC left-hander Tommy Milone.
Friday, April 4 - 6 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
USC's Tommy Milone, LHP, Jr. (3-2, 2.72) vs. UCLA's Tim Murphy, LHP, Jr. (2-1, 3.61)
Saturday, April 5 - 2 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
USC's Ryan Cook, RHP, Jr. (3-2, 4.17) vs. UCLA's Charles Brewer, RHP, So. (3-2, 4.67)
Sunday, April 6 - 1 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
USC's Brad Boxberger, RHP, So. (1-0, 2.70) vs. UCLA's Gavin Brooks, LHP, So. (1-2, 6.75)
UCLA and USC renew their longtime baseball rivalry this weekend, as the Bruins look for their seventh consecutive win against the Trojans on Friday evening. In both teams' final game of the Urban Invitational earlier this spring (Sunday, March 2). UCLA overcame a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 at Dedeaux Field. Aside from having won each of the last six games against USC, the Bruins have won nine of the last 14 meetings between both schools on the diamond. UCLA last won six games or more against USC during the team's record 13-game winning streak from 1985-1987. The last time in which UCLA hosted USC, the Bruins won the final two games of the three-game weekend series at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
This weekend's series features 2.5 points at stake in the annual Lexus Gauntlet Challenge - the Bruins claimed 2.5 of the five points awarded toward baseball with their road win one month ago. UCLA can capture all five points with two wins this weekend. Both teams will split the five points should USC take two of three games. A Trojan sweep would result in USC being awarded all five Lexus Gauntlet points. Heading into this weekend's series, USC owns a 45-32.5 lead in the 2008 Lexus Gauntlet standings.
BRUINS CRUISE PAST AZTECS
Left-hander Garett Claypool struck out a career-high six batters in five innings Tuesday evening, leading UCLA past San Diego State, 6-2, in a non-conference game at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The win marked UCLA's third in their last four games. Catcher Brent Dean keyed the Bruins' offense, posting career highs of three hits and four at-bats, and second baseman Alden Carrithers went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Not only did the Bruins snap the Aztecs' six-game winning streak, but UCLA also ended their four-game slide in the series against San Diego State. UCLA led 2-0 after three and 3-1 after six innings before adding three runs in the sixth.
HAERTHER MAKES HISTORY
First baseman Casey Haerther recorded a UCLA record seven hits in seven plate appearances Saturday, March 29, leading the Bruins past Arizona, 20-8, at Jerry Kindall Field in Tucson, Ariz. Haerther registered career highs with four doubles, four runs and four RBI and established the single game record for most hits by a Pac-10 player. The Chatsworth, Calif., resident finished the weekend going 9-for-14 (.643) with four doubles, one home run, six RBI and 16 total bases. In the final two games at Arizona, Haerther raised his batting average 85 points (.203 to .288).
Second baseman Alden Carrithers leads the Bruins with a .394 batting average, having started at second base in all 23 games. Carrithers has hit safely in 19 of 23 contests and leads the team with 11 multi-hit games and nine multi-RBI efforts. In three games at Cal Poly (March 13-15), Carrithers went 10-for-17 (.588), totaling two four-hit games and one two-hit afternoon. This spring, the Portland, Ore., resident leads the Bruins with eight doubles, three triples, 22 RBI, 94 at-bats, a .574 slugging percentage, a .473 on-base percentage and 11 stolen bases (13 attempts). Last season, Carrithers led all UCLA hitters with a .352 batting average and a .445 on-base percentage, starting at second base in all 61 ballgames.
Third baseman Jermaine Curtis posted two four-hit efforts in three games at Arizona. Curtis finished the week going 10-for-16 (.625) with a .714 on-base percentage in four games. Friday evening, Curtis scored the game-winning run after having recorded a career-high four hits in five at-bats. The following night, Curtis equaled his career-high with a 4-for-6 performance and three RBI in UCLA's 20-8 win. Sunday afternoon, the Fontana, Calif., resident reached base three times (one single, two walks) in five plate appearances as the Bruins dropped the series finale, 8-4. In the last 11 games, Curtis has hit at a .341 clip with 10 runs.
ON THE WEB
All UCLA home games can be listened to and viewed online at uclabruins.com. Danny Lee and Tim Wilhelm have the call at UCLA's official athletics website. Audio broadcasts of road series Oregon State (May 9-11) and California (May 23-25) will be carried live online. Nearly all regular-season games can be followed live through CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com.
ABOUT THE TROJANS
USC captured mid-week victories against UC Riverside, 7-5, at home on Tuesday and at San Diego, 3-2, on Wednesday evening. The Trojans have posted a 13-14 overall record, including a 2-4 Pac-10 mark. Two weeks ago, USC won the final two of three games against Arizona in a Pac-10 opening series at Dedeaux Field. Last weekend, the Trojans were swept in three games at top-ranked Arizona State. Roberto Lopez leads USC at the plate with a .400 average (42-for-105) in all 27 games. Left-hander Tommy Milone has registered a 2.72 ERA and 3-2 record in six starts on the hill for USC.
LEADING THE WAY
Junior left-hander Tim Murphy leads the Bruins' staff with 47 strikeouts, averaging 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Murphy logged nine strikeouts in five innings in his start against Long Beach State on Friday, March 21. That evening, Murphy struck out the first four batters he faced. In his second start of the spring (Friday, March 1), Murphy hurled the first complete game shutout by a Bruin since Feb. 25, 2005, when Hector Ambriz went the distance in a 9-0 win against Pacific at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Junior left-hander Brendan Lafferty has made a team-high 12 appearances through the Bruins' first 23 games. Lafferty collected his second save of the year in UCLA's 20-8 win, hurling three scoreless innings while striking out four hitters. Lafferty has compiled a 1-1 record and 3.62 ERA in 27.1 innings, totaling a career-high 23 strikeouts. The Riverside, Calif., resident has competed with the UCLA baseball program longer than any other player (only current player from the 2005 squad). Lafferty made 15 appearances in 2005, redshirted the 2006 season, and led the team with 25 appearances last spring.
Junior Ryan Babineau has been named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list, as announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award is given annually to the top Division-I collegiate catcher. Babineau has caught more games than any Pac-10 catcher (132), making 129 starts. Babineau has committed two errors in 1,051 chances (.998 pct.), throwing out 36 of 90 attempted base stealers (40.0 pct). This season, opponents have attemped to steal eight times (four successfully) on Babineau in 16 games. At the plate, Babineau has posted a career .265 average with 11 home runs, 71 RBI and 68 runs.
HE'S A WINNER
Sophomore right-hander Charles Brewer leads the pitching staff with three wins (3-2 record) and 44.1 innings in eight appearances (four starts). Brewer recorded nine strikeouts in 9.0 innings of relief at Cal Poly (March 14), entering the game with UCLA trailing, 4-0, and no outs in the bottom of the first. The Bruins rallied to win, 10-6, handing Brewer his second victory of the season. Two weeks ago, Brewer limited Long Beach State to three runs (two earned) in 8.2 innings in a 3-2 loss at Blair Field.
Three of the Bruins' games this spring have extended into extra innings, including two of the team's first three contests. UCLA lost a 12-inning game, 3-2, to Oklahoma in the nightcap of a season-opening doubleheader on Feb. 23. The Bruins outlasted UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings on Feb. 27, a game that lasted five hours and 35 minutes. UCLA edged Arizona, 4-3, in 10 innings on March 28 in the Bruins' Pac-10 season opener. Last season, UCLA did not play any extra frames. The Bruins last played an extra inning game of 13 innings or longer on April 18, 2003, when UCLA won at Arizona State, 8-7 (13 innings).
PROJECTIONS AND PREDICTIONS
Baseball America tabbed UCLA as its preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 Conference. The national baseball publication predicts the Bruins to finish ahead of Arizona, Oregon State and Arizona State, respectively. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, outfielder Gabe Cohen and left-handed starter Gavin Brooks were named preseason All-Pac-10 selections by Baseball America. The publication listed Rob Rasmussen as one of the five top newcomers and pegged Crawford and left-hander Tim Murphy as the second- and sixth-best pro prospects in this year's draft class. Baseball America listed Jermaine Curtis as the conference's best defensive third baseman and Brandon Crawford as the Pac-10's best defensive shortstop.
Junior shortstop Brandon Crawford has continued to earn preseason accolades. Crawford is one of 75 players to have been named to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List. At season's end, the Golden Spikes Award is presented to the top college baseball player. The Pleasanton, Calif., resident has also been named a second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America and a third-team preseason All-America selection by Louisville Slugger and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
TWO DOLLAR TUESDAYS
All season long, tickets to Tuesday evening games at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium will cost just two dollars. The promotion began on Tuesday, March 11, in an 11-3 victory over Pepperdine. The remaining Tuesday night games include non-conference opponents UC Irvine (April 8), Cal State Northridge (April 15), UNLV (April 22) and San Diego (May 6). Other upcoming promotions at Jackie Robinson Stadium include Faculty and Staff Day on Friday, April 4 - faculty and staff members are eligible to receive four free tickets to Friday's game by showing either their Bruin card or a recent paycheck stub. Bruin School Days is slated for Saturday afternoon and Alumni Appreciation Day takes place on Sunday.
TO THE HALL
Former UCLA ballplayer Jackie Robinson has earned induction into the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Robinson will be inducted as one of three Vintage-Era inductees in the 2008 Hall of Fame class. Robinson, UCLA's only four-sport letterwinner, played baseball for the Bruins in 1940 after having played two seasons for Pasadena Junior College. Robinson became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
Sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Justin Uribe will miss the remainder of the 2008 season with a left elbow injury (torn UCL). Uribe's season-ending injury will require surgery. Freshman left-hander Rob Rasmussen will miss 3-5 weeks with a fractured left foot (return expected early May). Rasmussen sustained the injury on a line drive in the third inning against UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27). Freshman outfielder Jeff Rapoport (shoulder) missed the 2007 season with a shoulder injury and may return later this spring. Freshman right-hander Erik Goeddel and junior right-hander Tim Schlatter are both sidelined with arm injuries.