March 12, 2007
UCLA hosts Long Beach State at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening to conclude the home-and-home series. The Dirtbags defeated the Bruins, 14-1, at Blair Field on Tuesday, Feb. 20 in the two teams' previous meeting this season. Right-hander Garett Claypool will take the mound for UCLA. Claypool did not allow a hit in 3.0 scoreless innings when he started against UC Riverside one month ago. This season, the Bruins have posted a 1-1 record on midweek contests - UCLA defeated UC Riverside, 3-2, on Feb. 13. Tuesday's game can be listened to on UCLA's internet radio and followed via CSTV's GameTracker at uclabruins.com.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
UCLA - Garett Claypool (RHP) vs. LB State - Shane Peterson (LHP)
BACK FROM MISSISSIPPI
The Bruins dropped two of three games over the weekend in Mississippi, as UCLA's bats were stymied Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. The Rebels blanked the Bruins, 8-0, Friday evening. UCLA answered with a nail-biting 7-6 victory Saturday afternoon before dropping the rubber game, 4-1, Sunday afternoon. Bruin left-hander Tim Murphy allowed four runs off nine hits in 5.0 innings in his first collegiate pitching start Saturday. Right-hander Brant Rustich threw 3.0 scoreless innings of relief to earn his fourth save. Freshman left-hander Gavin Brooks (1-2) allowed four runs off 10 hits in a career-best 5.2 innings Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins have hit at a .308 clip in nine home games this season, collecting four home runs, 18 doubles and a .417 on-base percentage. UCLA's pitching staff has also fared well at home, posting a 3.78 ERA and .247 opponent batting average with 62 strikeouts in 81.0 innings pitched. Among UCLA's hitting leaders at Jackie Robinson Stadium this season include Brandon Crawford, Alden Carrithers and Will Penniall. Crawford is hitting .472 (17-for-26) with 12 RBI and 11 runs scored at home, and Carrithers has collected a .371 average with 10 runs scored in nine home starts at second base. Penniall is hitting at a .368 clip in eight home games. Right-hander Tyson Brummett leads the staff with a 1.06 home ERA in 17.0 innings pitched (two complete games, 15 strikeouts, one walk).
CARRITHERS IN THE CLUTCH
Junior Alden Carrithers has performed well in clutch situations this season. The transfer from UC Santa Barbara not only boasts a .333 batting average (second-best on the club) but has also tallied a .370 (10-for-27) mark with runners on-base. A talented second baseman, Carrithers is hitting .389 (7-for-18) with runners in scoring position and .833 (5-for-6) with a runner on third base and less than two outs. Last season, Carrithers earned All-Big West second-team accolades at second base and led the Gauchos in batting average (.342), runs scored (60), walks (45) and on-base percentage (.465).
CRAWFORD LEADS THE WAY
Sophomore Brandon Crawford leads the Bruins' offense in multiple categories, including hits (25), runs scored (14), RBI (16), total bases (40), slugging percentage (.606), stolen bases (8) on-base percentage (.453) and fielding assists (46). The right-handed hitting shortstop ranks second on the club in at-bats (66) and third in walks (7). Crawford earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for the week of Feb. 12-18, when the Bruins posted a 4-0 record with a sweep of East Carolina and a Tuesday night victory against UC Riverside.
ACE ON THE HILL
Senior right-hander Tyson Brummett (3-2) has stepped up in 2007 as the Bruins' pitching staff ace. Brummett has posted a 2.72 ERA in five starts, recording a team-leading 38 strikeouts and just seven walks through 39.2 innings. The Salem, Utah, native pitched complete game victories in back-to-back outings (Feb. 16 vs. East Carolina, Feb. 23 at Cal State Fullerton). Brummett has pitched into the eighth inning in four of his five starts as opponents are hitting at a .217 clip off the right-hander. He allowed one run off three hits in 7.2 innings in a 1-0 loss at Miami on Feb. 9, one week after limiting Winthrop to one run off six hits in UCLA's 2-1 season-opening victory on Feb. 2.
According to Boyd's World, a national strength of schedule ranking service, UCLA faces the third-most difficult schedule in the nation this season. The Bruins play 20 games against teams ranked in Baseball America's preseason top-25 poll. Likewise, 50 of UCLA's 56 regular-season games are against teams either ranked in or receiving votes in Collegiate Baseball's preseason "Fabulous 40" poll. In the most recent RPI ratings, UCLA owns an RPI of 41 and a strength of schedule rating of 13 by WarrenNolan.com, a nationally-recognized ratings service. Long Beach State boasts a No. 4 RPI as well as a strength of schedule rating of 4 by WarrenNolan.com.
WHAT'S NEXT - SAN DIEGO STATE
UCLA hits the road to play a three-game series at San Diego State beginning Friday, March 16. Last season, the Bruins swept the Aztecs in three games at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA outscored San Diego State 35-9 in the series, posting wins of 14-6 on Friday, 12-2 on Saturday and 9-1 in Sunday's series finale. Hector Ambriz led UCLA at the plate, hitting .636 (7-for-11) with one home run, two doubles and nine RBI in the three-game series. Brandon Crawford posted a .556 average that weekend with three RBI and four runs scored. Tyson Brummett allowed just one run off five hits in 7.0 innings to pick up the victory on Sunday, March 19.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup since opening day and currently boasts a .318 batting average, the third-best mark on the team. The La Cañada, Calif., native delivered a clutch pinch-hit double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth in the season opener (Feb. 2). Penniall's double led to a dropped fly ball by Winthrop second baseman Phil Carey, off the bat of Ryan Babineau, and carried the Bruins to victory. Since opening night, Penniall has collected four multi-hit games, scored six runs and stolen three bases.
WALLACE WATCH LIST
Sophomore shortstop Brandon Crawford has been named to the 2007 Wallace Watch List, the College Baseball Foundation announced in November. The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. Crawford joins nine other Pac-10 baseball players on the 2007 Wallace Watch List. The list of 148 ballplayers will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May. The selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals.
WHO'S THAT MASKED MAN?
Sophomore catcher Ryan Babineau has shown off his arm through UCLA's first 17 games. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. resident has thrown out five of 14 attempted base stealers. Babineau has thrown out 20 of 51 attempted base stealers in his career at UCLA (39.2 percent). A freshman All-America selection by Baseball America in 2006, Babineau has not committed an error in 566 career chances (498 putouts, 68 assists). Last year, he caught 56 of the Bruins' 58 games and helped lead the pitching staff to the second-lowest ERA in the Pac-10 (3.77).
HE'S A NIGHT OWL
While UCLA is hitting just .242 in night games this season, sophomore shortstop Brandon Crawford has excelled under the lights. Through nine night contests, Crawford has posted a .455 batting average (15-for-33) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBI. During the day, the Pleasanton, Calif., native is hitting .303 with 10 hits in 33 at-bats.
HOME SWEET HOME
Through 17 regular-season games, the Bruins have tallied a 6-3 mark at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA took two of three games from No. 23 Winthrop to open the season (Feb. 2-4), picked up a Tuesday evening victory against UC Riverside (Feb. 13) and swept East Carolina (Feb. 16-18). The Bruins' three losses at home came on Saturday, Feb. 3 against Winthrop, 6-4, and versus Cal State Fullerton by scores of 7-4 (Feb. 24) and 7-2 (Feb. 25). Last season, UCLA recorded a 19-12 mark at home. The Bruins have 21 remaining home games.
IN THE POLLS
UCLA began the season ranked No. 13 by Baseball America and has since fallen out of all five major polls. Following the season-opening series victory against Winthrop, the Bruins earned a No. 11 ranking. UCLA fell to No. 15 after getting swept at Miami and fell to No. 23 following a series loss to Cal State Fullerton.
BLACK AND BLUE
Senior first baseman Tim Stewart has been hit by a pitch seven times in 17 games this season. To be exact, Stewart was plunked seven times through the first 10 contests. The former Mater Dei High slugger was hit once in game two of the Winthrop series and two more times the following afternoon. Stewart reached first base via a hit-by-pitch on Feb. 9 at Miami and once more in the series finale versus the Hurricanes. Against East Carolina, he was plunked on Friday (Feb. 16) and Sunday (Feb. 18).
BIG LEAGUE BRUINS
With spring training in full swing, nine former UCLA ballplayers have earned a spot on an MLB 40-man roster. Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Eric Byrnes (Arizona), Jeff Conine (Cincinnati), Ben Francisco (Cleveland), Troy Glaus (Toronto), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Adam Melhuse (Oakland), Dave Roberts (San Francisco) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia) will report to their respective teams training facilities as a member of the 40-man roster. Left-hander Jim Parque, who has not pitched in the major leagues since 2003, agreed to a minor-league contract with the Seattle Mariners on Feb. 2.
Sophomore Blair Dunlap and freshman Jeff Rapoport are unavailable to play due to shoulder injuries. Senior Nolan Rouse suffered an arm injury against Cal State Fullerton and is questionable for this week's games. Freshman pitcher Charles Brewer has been medically cleared to play - he missed the first four weeks of the season with an illness.
PAC-10 COACHES PICK UCLA FOURTH
UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches poll. The Bruins were picked to finish behind Arizona State, Oregon State, and Stanford, respectively. Last season, UCLA was selected eighth in the preseason poll and finished third in the Pac-10 with a 13-10 conference mark (33-25 overall).
Baseball America selected UCLA as its preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 title in 2007. The publication projected the Bruins to join Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was selected to Baseball America's preseason All-Pac-10 Team, and right-handed pitcher Charles Brewer was listed as the Pac-10's fifth-best newcomer. The magazine projected Brant Rustich as the Pac-10's ninth-best pro prospect in 2007. In its ranking of "best tools" within the Pac-10, Baseball America named Crawford as the "best athlete," "best defensive shortstop" and infielder with the "best arm." The publication listed Ryan Babineau as the catcher with the "best arm," Jermaine Curtis as "best defensive third baseman," right-hander Tyson Brummett with the "best changeup" and outfielder Jeff Rapoport as the "fastest runner."
ON THE FARM
Five former Bruins were rated as the top prospects in their respective MLB organizations. Dave Huff, last season's ace, has been ranked the No. 10 prospect in Cleveland's organization. Hector Ambriz, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2003, 2005-06), has been tabbed the No. 22 prospect in Arizona's farm system. Wes Whisler, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2002-04), is rated the No. 29 prospect in the Chicago White Sox organzation. Ben Francisco (2001-02) and Paul Oseguera (2005-06) have each earned honorable mention prospect accolades (Cleveland and San Francisco, respectively).
FRANCISCO'S FLYIN' HIGH
Looking to land a spot on the Cleveland Indians' opening day roster, former Bruin outfielder Ben Francisco is hitting .429 in 10 spring training games. Francisco shares the team lead of two home runs with three other players and boasts a .458 on-base percentage this spring. Last summer, the former Bruin standout hit .278 in 515 at-bats with the Buffalo Bisons, Cleveland's triple-A minor league affliate. Francisco played at UCLA from 2001-2002 and led the club with a .368 average in 2002.
CRAWFO-RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Sophomore Brandon Crawford spent his summer playing for the U.S. National Team and helped lead Team USA to the FISU (International University Sports Federation) World Championship after the club posted a 28-2-1 overall mark. Crawford played in 23 games, starting 10, and hit .257 (9-for-35). He collected two doubles, six RBI, seven runs, three walks and one stolen base.
COAST TO COAST
The 2007 schedule features games in three contentinal U.S. time zones - Pacific, Central (at Mississippi) and Eastern (at Miami). Overall, the Bruins will play at 13 different ballparks during the regular season, including Jackie Robinson Stadium. Aside from the trips to Coral Gables, Fla., and Oxford, Miss., and games at Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton, UCLA will play San Diego State, Stanford (Palo Alto, Calif.), USC, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Pepperdine (Malibu, Calif.), Arizona State (Tempe, Ariz.) and Washington State (Pullman, Wash.).
STAYING IN THE GOLDEN STATE
The Bruins will play their next 30 games in California (18 home, 12 road). Over that 30-game span, UCLA will host Long Beach State (1), Pacific (3), Washington (3), Pepperdine (1), Cal State Northridge (3), Arizona (3) and California (3). In-state road games will include San Diego State (3), Stanford (3), USC (3), UC Riverside (1), UC Irvine (1) and Pepperdine (1). The Bruins will not leave California until they play at Arizona State from May 11-13.
NOW THAT'S TIMELY HITTING
Four of UCLA's seven home runs have either given the Bruins the lead or tied the game. Brandon Crawford's solo home run at Miami (Feb. 10) put the Bruins ahead, 7-6, in the top of the ninth and gave UCLA its first lead of the game. Justin Uribe's solo blast the following day in Coral Gables, Fla., deadlocked the contest in the eighth inning, 3-3. In game two versus East Carolina, Cody Decker sent a two-run homer over the left-field wall to give UCLA a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Later that afternoon, Crawford belted a two-out grand slam to put the Bruins ahead 9-7.