March 24, 2008
LOS ANGELES - UCLA hits the road this week, beginning with a Tuesday trip to San Diego State. The Bruins and Aztecs have traded three-game weekend sweeps each of the past two seasons. Both teams will meet again on Tuesday, April 1, at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium. San Diego State enters Tuesday's non-conference meeting with a 12-10 overall record and a 5-1 mark in the Mountain West Conference.
The Bruins open Pac-10 play at No. 6 Arizona this weekend, starting Friday night at Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium. Last spring, UCLA won the first two of three games against Arizona at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Wildcats began the 2008 season ranked No. 1 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll. Two years ago, UCLA defeated Arizona in the first two games of a three-game set in Tucson, Ariz.
Tuesday, March 25 - 6 p.m - at SDSU's Tony Gwynn Stadium
UCLA Justin Uribe, LHP, So. (2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. SDSU's Shane Kaufman, RHP, Sr. (0-1, 7.08 ERA)
Friday, March 28 - 7 p.m. - at Arizona's Frank Sancet Stadium
UCLA's Tim Murphy, LHP, Jr. (2-1, 3.79 ERA) vs. Arizona's Preston Guilmet, RHP, Jr. (3-1, 2.67 ERA)
Saturday, March 29 - 6 p.m. - at Arizona's Frank Sancet Stadium
UCLA's Charles Brewer, RHP, So. (2-2, 4.23 ERA) vs. Arizona's David Coulon, LHP, Jr. (4-1, 2.60 ERA)
Sunday, March 30 - 12 p.m. - at Arizona's Frank Sancet Stadium
UCLA's Gavin Brooks, LHP, So. (1-1, 7.11 ERA) vs. Arizona - TBD
THE ROAD AHEAD
UCLA plays the final four games of a six-game road swing this week. The Bruins' current road trip marks the team's longest since playing at Pepperdine, Arizona State and Washington State in May of 2007. Following this weekend's three-game series at Arizona, the Bruins will play 13 consecutive contests at home. Beginning on Tuesday, April 1 (vs. San Diego State), UCLA will host seven teams in a 22-day stretch. The Bruins' Pac-10 slate continues the weekend of April 4-6 with crosstown rival USC at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
PAC-10 PACE PICKS UP
While UCLA opens Pac-10 play at Arizona this weekend, four Pac-10 teams began conference action last weekend. California captured two of three games at Washington State, and USC won the final two of three contests in Los Angeles against Arizona. All nine Pac-10 baseball teams own a winning record, and six of those ballclubs are ranked among the top-25 by Baseball America or the top-30 by Collegiate Baseball. Last season, the Bruins won eight of their first nine Pac-10 games, finishing the year with a 14-10 conference mark and third-place finish in the Pac-10.
ABOUT THE AZTECS
The Bruins travel to San Diego State for a mid-week game Tuesday night (6 p.m.). San Diego State owns a 12-10 record, including an 8-7 mark at home this season. Offensively, the Aztecs are led by senior infielder Troy Hanzawa (.379 avg., 11 RBI, 25 runs, .438 OBP) and junior infielder Nick Romero (.337 avg, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 15 runs, .429 OBP). San Diego State swept UCLA in three games last spring in San Diego (March 16-18). UCLA swept the Aztecs in a three-game set at Jackie Robinson Stadium in 2006 (March 17-19).
A.C. MAKES IT LOOK EASY
Alden Carrithers leads UCLA's hitters with a .427 batting average and has hit safely in 15 of the team's 18 games. The Bruins' starting second baseman in all 18 contests has hit at a .500 clip (23-for-46) with 11 runs and nine RBI in UCLA's last 10 games. In three games last weekend, Carrithers finished 4-for-12 (.333) with two stolen bases in two attempts and two RBI. The previous weekend at Cal Poly, Carrithers hit 10-for-17 (.588), leading the Bruins to wins in two of the final three games in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
CRAWFORD KEEPS RUNNIN'
Brandon Crawford has registered a .378 average in UCLA's last 10 games, totaling 10 RBI, eight runs and five stolen bases in that span. The Bruins' shortstop has hit safely in 12 of 18 contests this spring, including eight of the last 10 games. Crawford tallied his second home run of the year on Saturday (game 2), rounding the bases on an inside-the-park home run that bounced back off the wall and into center field. On the season, Crawford has totaled 13 RBI, 12 runs, 19 hits and six stolen bases.
TAKING CENTER STAGE
UCLA's Justin Uribe takes the hill Tuesday evening at San Diego State, making his second start of the season as the Bruins' pitcher. Uribe, a talented two-way player, has started 14 games in the outfield this spring - 12 in center field and two in left field. The Santa Ana, Calif., native limited Pepperdine to three hits in five scoreless innings on March 11 in his first career start. Uribe carries a 2-0 record into Tuesday evening's game. At the plate, Uribe has recorded a career .273 average, with two home runs and 23 RBI. In the Bruins' last 10 games, Uribe has hit a .308 clip, scoring six runs and drawing seven walks.
Sophomore right-hander Charles Brewer leads the Bruins with 38.1 innings, having totaled 27 strikeouts, a 2-2 record and one save this spring. In his last two outings, Brewer has posted a 1.53 ERA, allowing just four runs (three earned) in 17.2 innings. Brewer pitched nine innings in relief in UCLA's 10-6 victory at Cal Poly (Friday, March 14) to earn the victory. Last weekend, the right-hander from Paradise Valley, Ariz., allowed three runs (two earned) in 8.2 innings, absorbing the loss in a 3-2 setback at Long Beach State.
KING OF THE K
Junior left-hander Tim Murphy leads the Bruins' staff with 41 strikeouts, averaging 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Murphy logged nine strikeouts in five innings in his last start, as the Bruins fell to Long Beach State, 13-3 (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. The Vista, Calif., resident has pitched 35.2 innings, the second-highest total on the club.
BRENDAN IN THE BULLPEN
Junior left-hander Brendan Lafferty has made a team-high nine appearances through the Bruins' first 18 games. Lafferty has compiled a 1-1 record and 3.68 ERA in 22.0 innings, totaling a career-high 17 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 (128), making 124 starts. Babineau has committed two errors in 1,026 chances (.998 pct.), throwing out 34 of 85 attempted base stealers (40.0 pct). This season, opponents have attemped to steal three times (once successfully) on Babineau in 11 games. At the plate, Babineau has posted a career .267 average with 11 home runs, 67 RBI and 63 runs.
BRINGIN' THE HEAT
UCLA's pitching staff has logged 148 strikeouts in 166.1 innings this spring (8.0 strikeouts per nine innings). Bruin pitchers recorded 18 strikeouts in 13 innings against UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 27. No UCLA ballclub had totaled 18 strikeouts or more since March 25, 2000, when the Bruins fanned 18 batters in a 2-1 home loss to Washington. Through 18 games, left-hander Tim Murphy leads the club with 41 strikeouts. Right-hander Charles Brewer ranks second in that category, having registered 27 strikeouts.
Two of the Bruins' first three games this season extended into extra innings. UCLA played a 12-inning game (L, 3-2) against 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. 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 San Diego State (April 1), UC Irvine (April 8), Cal State Northridge (April 15), UNLV (April 22) and San Diego (May 6).
TO THE HALL
Former UCLA ballplayer Jackie Robinson has earned induction into the College Baseball Hall of Fame, the College Baseball Foundation has announced. 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. In two seasons at Pasadena Junior College, Robinson posted a .417 batting average, totaling 43 runs and 25 stolen bases in 24 games. At UCLA, he became the school's first and only four-sport letterwinner, competing for the football, basketball, baseball and track and field teams.
THE POLL IN THE PAC
UCLA was selected third out of nine teams in the Pac-10 preseason coaches' poll. The Bruins were picked to finish behind Arizona and Arizona State, respectively. Arizona captured six first-place votes, and Arizona State picked up three first-place votes. Last season, UCLA was picked fourth in the preseason coaches' poll and finished third with a 14-10 mark in Pac-10 ballgames.
Freshman left-hander Rob Rasmussen will miss 8-10 weeks with a fractured left foot (return expected early May). Rasmussen sustained the injury on a line drive comebacker in the third inning against UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27). Freshman outfielder Jeff Rapoport (shoulder) missed the 2007 season rehabilitating 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.
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. Lee enters his fourth season behind the microphone at Jackie Robinson Stadium, and Wilhelm returns for his second season. Additionally, audio broadcasts of road series at Arizona (March 28-30), 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.
MOVIN' ON UP
Last summer, 17 former Bruins competed in minor league baseball - 11 of those players were drafted under head coach John Savage. This spring, three former Bruins who played at UCLA in either of the past two years began their seasons in big-league camp. Right-handers Hector Ambriz (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Josh Roenicke (Cincinnati Reds) starred on the Bruins' 2006 NCAA Regional squad before getting drafted that June. Right-hander Brant Rustich was drafted in the second round of the 2007 MLB Draft and opened spring training in big-league camp with the New York Mets. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was assigned to minor league camp on March 7. Roenicke has pitched five scoreless innings in five appearances in Florida, totaling six strikeouts and one save (in one save opportunity).
COACHING AT A HIGH LEVEL
Former Bruin and major league infielder Torey Lovullo enters his third season as the Buffalo Bisons manager (triple-A, Cleveland). Lovullo has led the Bisons to winning records in each of his first two seasons after having spent 13 years playing professional baseball. Former Bruin ballplayers Eric Valent (Williamsport Crosscutters, single-A, Philadelphia) and Jerry Weinstein (Modesto Nuts, high-A, Colorado) are also serving as coaches in the minor leagues.
MARK THE CALENDAR
UCLA's game at Cal State Northridge on Tuesday, Feb. 26, was suspended in the middle of the eighth inning due to darkness. The remainder of that game (beginning at the start of the bottom of the eighth) will resume on Tuesday, April 15 at UCLA (4:30 p.m.). Both teams are scheduled to play that evening at 6 p.m. at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium. Should the remainder of the suspended game extend past 5:30 p.m., the second game will begin 30 minutes at the conclusion of the first. UCLA currently leads Cal State Northridge in the suspended contest, 22-2. Statistics from the game do not become official until its conclusion on April 15.