Oct. 11, 2007
LOS ANGELES - Former UCLA baseball stars Garrett Atkins, of the Colorado Rockies, and Eric Byrnes, of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will face each other in the 2007 National League Championship Series beginning Thursday, Oct. 11.
Atkins, Colorado's third baseman, helped lead the Rockies to their first-ever NLCS appearance after Colorado swept the NL East Champion Philadelphia Phillies in a three-game series. Byrnes, an outfielder for Arizona, guided the Diamondbacks to the NLCS after Arizona swept the NL Central Champion Chicago Cubs in three games.
In three National League Division Series contests, Atkins collected two doubles, one single, three runs and one RBI. Atkins finished the regular season with a .301 batting average in 157 games, totaling 25 home runs, 111 RBI, 35 doubles, and 83 runs. Atkins played three seasons at UCLA (1998-2000) and was a freshman when Byrnes played as a senior (1998).
Byrnes posted a .250 batting average in three NLDS games, recording three hits (including one home run and one triple), three RBI and one run. Byrnes finished the regular season hitting .286, posting team-highs in hits (179), runs (103), doubles (30), RBI (83) and stolen bases (50). The four-year Bruin letterwinner (1995-1998) also registered 21 home runs.
Game 1 of the NLCS is slated to begin Thursday at 5:30 p.m. (PT), televised live on TBS from Arizona's Chase Field. Neither Atkins nor Byrnes has ever appeared in a League Championship Series or the World Series.
Other former Bruins have contributed to their teams' postseason success in 2007. Two-year letterwinner Ben Francisco (2001-2002) played in 25 games for the Cleveland Indians this season, helping lead Cleveland to the American League Central Division title. Francisco ended the regular season on the big-league club and was not added to the postseason active roster. Cleveland faces the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 American League Championship Series, beginning Friday, Oct. 12.
Former UCLA infielder Mike Gallego (1979-1981), father of freshman Niko Gallego, serves as the Colorado Rockies' third-base coach after having enjoyed a productive 13-year major-league career with the Oakland A's, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals. Also, former Bruin right-hander Hector Ambriz (2003-2006) has spent the last two seasons as a starting pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks' farm system.