May 12, 2008
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA baseball team plays at No. 12 UC Irvine (33-13) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. before hosting a three-game Pac-10 series against Washington State (27-22, 6-12 Pac-10) this weekend. The Bruins (25-23, 8-10 Pac-10) have just eight games remaining in their regular-season schedule. UCLA dropped a 6-5, 10-inning decision to UC Irvine when the two schools met on Tuesday, April 8, at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Tuesday, May 13 - 6 p.m. - at UC Irvine's Anteater Ballpark
UCLA's Matt Grace, LHP, Fr. (0-0, 3.68) vs. UC Irvine's Tom Calahan, LHP, Sr. (0-1, 3.63)
THE ROAD AHEAD
UCLA remains in the hunt for a third consecutive postseason berth, needing to at least win both remaining Pac-10 series. With just two non-conference games to play, the Bruins take to the freeway for a Tuesday evening contest at No. 12 UC Irvine. UCLA plays its final home games of the year, May 16-18, in a Pac-10 series against Washington State. The Bruins conclude the regular season next week with a mid-week contest at No. 8 Cal State Fullerton before playing a three-game Pac-10 weekend series at No. 13 California.
The Bruins will send freshman left-hander Matt Grace to the hill Tuesday evening. Grace, making his second start of the season and his 14th overall appearance, has not earned a decision in 22.0 innings of work. The Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., native has collected 13 strikeouts and issued 12 walks. Opponents are hitting the left-hander at a .253 clip. UC Irvine will counter with senior left-hander Tom Calahan (0-1, 3.63 ERA).
Among the most competitive conferences in the nation, from top to bottom, the Pac-10 currently features eight of its nine teams with winning records. Six teams are separated by just three games, as Arizona State holds a one-game lead over second place Stanford. Washington currently occupies sole possession of third place, while California and Oregon State are tied at 11-10 for fourth place. UCLA and Arizona have both compiled 8-10 Pac-10 records, tied for sixth place. USC rests one game ahead of ninth-place Washington State.
Senior Alden Carrithers has emerged as a legitimate All-America candidate, having registered a .379 batting average in 47 games. The Portland, Ore., resident leads UCLA in numerous offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.468), hits (69) and stolen bases (17). Carrithers has tallied hit streaks of 11 and 10 games this season. Carrithers' .379 batting average is the fifth-highest mark in the Pac-10. The Portland, Ore., resident is also among league leaders in hits (fourth), on-base percentage (sixth) and stolen bases (third).
ACCOLADES ALL AROUND
Several Bruins have garnered national attention within the college baseball community. Alden Carrithers has been named as one of 50 players to the Dick Howser Award watch list. Two weeks ago, Carrithers was chosen as one of 100 players on the revised Brooks Wallace Award watch list. Prior to Opening Day, Ryan Babineau was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list, a compilation of the nation's top 36 catchers. Brandon Crawford was tabbed as one of 50 players to the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list.
Earlier this spring, UCLA became just the second team in the past two seasons to win a three-game series at Arizona, which currently boasts a 21-3 home mark. The Bruins took the first two of three games at Arizona (March 28-30) to open Pac-10 play. Last season, the Wildcats posted a 28-4 home record, losing one home series to USC. The weekend of April 25-27, UCLA won two of three games at Washington, where the Huskies had previously recorded an 18-5 home record with just one home series loss to Cal Poly.
CRUSHING IT FARTHER
Sophomore Casey Haerther leads UCLA with eight home runs and has belted seven of those round-trippers since going 7-for-7 at Arizona on March 29. In that 20-8 victory, Haerther established the Pac-10 and UCLA record for most hits in a game. UCLA's starting first baseman has batted .326 in 46 games (45 starts), totaling team-highs of 37 RBI and 18 doubles. Haerther has logged a .558 slugging percentage and stolen 10 bases in 12 attempts. Haerther crushed two home runs in an 18-7 rout of UC Riverside (April 12).
Sophomore Charles Brewer, a right-handed pitcher from Paradise Valley, Ariz., leads all Bruin pitchers with seven wins. Brewer has logged 58 strikeouts and 27 walks in a team-leading 80.0 innings. Brewer has earned the victory in each of his last three starts (at Washington, vs. Arizona State, at Oregon State). Last Saturday, the sophomore right-hander tied his career high with nine strikeouts in the Bruins' 11-4 victory at Oregon State. Brewer allowed four runs (two earned) and five hits in 7.1 innings.
The UCLA baseball program will honor its four seniors prior to Sunday's 1 p.m. game against Washington State at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Second baseman Alden Carrithers, catcher Brent Dean and outfielders Brady Dolan and Mickey Weisser will play in their final home games this weekend, as the Bruins host Washington State for three games.
Alden Carrithers has registered five four-hit efforts this season. No Bruin has tallied that many games with four or more hits since Brian Baron logged seven four-hit performances in 2001. That season, Baron finished the year with 33 multi-hit games -- 19 two-hit efforts, seven three-hit contests and seven four-hit performances. Also, Casey Haerther's seven hits at Arizona (March 29) were the most hits in a game by a Bruin since Ryan McCarthy went 5-for-5 in 2004 against Arizona State (April 18).
THE REAL DEAL
Junior right-hander Jason Novak earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors on Tuesday, May 6, after having thrown seven scoreless innings in three appearances the previous week. Novak continued his solid work in relief at Oregon State last weekend. In two appearances at Goss Stadium, allowed just one run and four hits in 5.2 innings. In Saturday's 11-4 victory, Novak recorded his second save of the season, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings in relief. Sunday afternoon, Novak allowed one run in four innings out of the bullpen.
Left-hander Brendan Lafferty is currently tied for third among Pac-10 pitchers with 25 appearances, all coming in relief. Lafferty has logged a 1-2 record and 4.32 ERA in a team-high 25 outings, totaling 45 strikeouts in 50.0 innings. The junior from Riverside, Calif., hurled 4.1 scoreless innings of relief against Stanford (April 19), totaling four strikeouts and one walk. Lafferty earned his third save of the season in UCLA's 4-3 win at Washington (April 27) in the series finale, totaling four strikeouts in two innings of hitless relief.
Two of the Bruins' four games will be televised this week. UCLA's Tuesday evening contest at UC Irvine will be aired locally by Cox3 Sports. Saturday's Pac-10 game against Washington State will be televised live on Fox Sports Net (FSN Prime Ticket in the Los Angeles area). Barry Tompkins and Jerry Kindall will have the call from Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
ON THE `NET
Each of UCLA's three games versus Washington State this weekend can be listened to online with an Internet radio broadcast available free of charge at uclabruins.com. Tim Wilhelm and Danny Lee will have the call. All remaining regular-season games can be followed live on CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com. Likewise, the Bruins final three games at California (May 23-25) will be broadcast via live Internet radio and video at uclabruins.com. Danny Lee will be calling the Bruins' final regular-season series.
UCLA has posted a 3-2 record in five extra-inning ballgames. Two of the team's first four games were extra-inning affairs. UCLA lost a 12-inning game, 3-2, to Oklahoma in the nightcap of a season-opening doubleheader (Feb. 23). The Bruins outlasted UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings (Feb. 27) in a five-hour, 35-minute affair. UCLA edged Arizona, 4-3, in 10 innings (March 28) in the Bruins' Pac-10 season opener. UC Irvine downed the Bruins, 6-5, in 10 innings at Jackie Robinson Stadium (April 8). UCLA used a two-out rally, keyed by Brandon Crawford in the bottom of the 11th inning, to defeat UNLV, 8-7 (April 22).
THIRD TO 100
John Savage earned his 100th victory as UCLA's head baseball coach on April 20, as the Bruins defeated Stanford, 8-2. Savage, who has tallied a 106-117 record midway through his fourth season, became just the third head coach in UCLA baseball history to reach the 100-win plateau. Former head coaches Gary Adams (1975-2004) and Arthur Reichle (1941, 1946-1974) have also reached the 100-win mark. Savage, who spent three years as UC Irvine's head baseball coach prior to arriving in Westwood, stands just six wins shy of his 200th career victory as a college baseball head coach (194-201-1 career record).
HEAD OF THE PACK
Jermaine Curtis ranks fifth in the conference with a .394 batting average in Pac-10 games. Curtis has tallied six doubles, one triple, one home run, eight RBI and 14 runs in conference action. Casey Haerther's .649 slugging percentage in Pac-10 games ranks fifth, and Alden Carrithers' .468 on-base percentage in conference contests ranks seventh. Haerther is tied for the conference lead with nine doubles in Pac-10 games (with Oregon State's Ryan Ortiz).
The Bruins blasted three home runs in Saturday's 11-4 win at Oregon State. Brandon Crawford registered his fifth home run of the season, the 18th of his three-year career, in the top of the seventh inning. Cody Decker and Raul Duran connected for back-to-back home runs in the top of the ninth inning that afternoon, becoming the first Bruins to consecutively belt homers since April 8, 2008, when Casey Haerther and Brandon Crawford accomplished the feat in a 6-5 loss to UC Irvine.
NEARLY RECORD NUMBERS
Not only does Alden Carrithers lead the Bruins with a .379 batting average, the Bruins' second baseman has put himself near elite company. In two seasons at UCLA, Carrithers has compiled a .364 career average, a figure that currently ranks sixth on the Bruins' all-time list. Former Bruin first baseman Eric Karros finished his three-year career with a .365 mark. Carrithers has also stolen 17 bases, the most by a Bruin in a single season since Ben Francisco and Ryan Rasmussen swiped 20 bases in 2002.
Junior Ryan Babineau was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list prior to the start of the season. The award is given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher. In 152 career games (146 starts, including two at designated hitter), Babineau has committed two errors in 1,196 chances (.998 pct.), throwing out 42 of 105 base stealers (40.0 pct). This season, Babineau has thrown out 10 of 23 base stealers (43.4 pct).
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 picked up six of nine first-place votes, and Arizona State recorded the other 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.
NEWLY-NAMED STEELE FIELD
The baseball program dedicated the field at Jackie Robinson Stadium in honor of the Steele Foundation prior to a Pac-10 game against Arizona State on Saturday, May 3. Thanks to a generous lead gift from the Steele Foundation, UCLA was able to complete several improvements to Jackie Robinson Stadium last offseason, the most significant renovation being the installation of a new major-league caliber playing surface.
2007 IN REVIEW
UCLA finished its 2007 season with its first trip to the NCAA Super Regionals since 2000 and totaled a 33-28 record. In the Super Regional, UCLA dropped both games to Cal State Fullerton (12-2 and 2-1). UCLA advanced after winning the Long Beach Regional, defeating No. 3-seed Pepperdine (7-3), No. 4-seed Illinois-Chicago (3-1) and No. 1-seed Long Beach State (7-4) at Blair Field. Last year, the Bruins advanced to the postseason for the second consecutive season and for the third time in four years.
Sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Justin Uribe will miss the remainder of the season with a left elbow injury (torn UCL). Freshman right-hander Dan Klein remains inactive with shoulder soreness. Freshman outfielder Jeff Rapoport (shoulder) missed the 2007 season with a shoulder injury and remains sidelined, along with freshman right-hander Erik Goeddel (elbow) and junior right-hander Tim Schlatter (shoulder).
Seven former Bruin ballplayers are currently on 25-man MLB rosters. In 2007, nine former Bruins played in the major leagues. Two players from the 1997 College World Series squad, Eric Byrnes (Arizona) and Troy Glaus (St. Louis), and two teammates from 1998-2000, Garrett Atkins (Colorado) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia), are on big-league rosters. Former Bruin teammates Dave Roberts (San Francisco) and Adam Melhuse (Texas) are also among ex-UCLA players in the majors.
ON THE FARM
Last summer, 17 former Bruins competed in minor league baseball - 11 of those players were drafted under head coach John Savage. Five former Bruins have begun the 2008 minor league season playing at the double-A level, and one former Bruin is competing on a triple-A club (Wes Whisler). Hector Ambriz, Chris Denove, David Huff, Dave Johnson, Paul Oseguera and Kyle Wilson have started their respective seasons in double-A ball. Two Bruins from last year's ballclub - Tyson Brummett and Brant Rustich - are playing at the single-A minor league level.
MOVIN' ON UP
Former UCLA right-hander Tyson Brummett, a two-year letterwinner with the Bruins, was recently promoted to the Clearwater Threshers, the Philadelphia Phillies' high-A affiliate. In six starts with the Lakewood BlueClaws, Philadelphia's single-A affiliate, Brummett recorded a 3-0 record and 1.95 ERA, totaling 36 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 37.0 innings of work. Brummett registered five strikeouts in seven innings in his first start for Clearwater, allowing two runs and seven hits for the Threshers. Last season, Brummett went 10-6 as UCLA's staff ace, compiling 111 strikeouts in 138.0 innings, including seven complete games.