Feb. 19, 2007
No. 15 UCLA faces No. 20 Long Beach State Tuesday evening at Blair Field (6:30 p.m.) in the first of two meetings this season. The Dirtbags travel to UCLA on Tuesday, March 13. Last season, the Bruins won both games against Long Beach State, notching a 6-3 victory on Feb. 28 in Long Beach and a 9-7 win on April 18 at UCLA. The Bruins own a 35-25 record against Long Beach State since 1975.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
UCLA - Matt Drummond, LHP vs. LBSU - Adam Wilk, LHP
UCLA SWEEPS EAST CAROLINA
Sophomore Cody Decker delivered a bases-clearing double as UCLA defeated East Carolina, 7-6, at Jackie Robinson Stadium Sunday to sweep the Pirates. Freshman left-hander Gavin Brooks (1-0) allowed two runs off six hits in 5.0 innings to notch his first collegiate victory. The Bruins edged East Carolina, 9-7, Saturday and won the series opener Friday, 6-1. Sophomore Brandon Crawford blasted a grand slam with two outs in the eighth inning Saturday to give UCLA a 9-7 lead. Senior right-hander Tyson Brummett pitched a complete game, recording nine strikeouts in Friday evening's 6-1 win.
CRAWFORD LEADS THE WAY
Sophomore Brandon Crawford posted a .454 batting average over the weekend, hitting 5-for-11 with eight RBI, four runs scored, three walks, one double and one home run. His eighth-inning grand slam with two outs Saturday propelled UCLA to victory. Crawford boasts a .432 average (16-for-37) through the Bruins' first 10 games. The shortstop from Pleasanton, Calif., leads the team in batting average, hits (16), RBI (13), total bases (28), stolen bases (6) and on-base percentage (.523). Crawford owns a 10-game hitting streak and has collected five multi-hit games this season.
TYSON TAKES OVER
Senior Tyson Brummett (2-1) has established himself as the staff ace and boasts a 1.09 ERA and .167 opponent batting average after three starts. Brummett pitched 7.2 innings in the season-opener against No. 23 Winthrop (Feb. 4), threw 8.0 innings in a 1-0 loss at No. 5 Miami (Feb. 11) and hurled a complete game in UCLA's 6-1 victory over East Carolina (Feb. 18). The Salem, Utah resident has struck out 23 batters in 24.2 innings pitched, leading the Bruins in both categories.
ABOUT THE DIRTBAGS
Ranked No. 20 by Collegiate Baseball, Long Beach State has taken two of three games from USC and Texas this season. Over the weekend, the Dirtbags dropped the final two of a three-game series at Rice. Long Beach State has opened its season against three top-25 opponents - No. 25 USC, No. 7 Texas and No. 6 Rice. With UCLA ranked No. 15 by Baseball America, the Dirtbags will have opened the season with 11 straight games against top-25 opponents.
NOVAK TO THE RESCUE
Sophomore right-hander Jason Novak has pitched effectively from the Bruins' bullpen in 2007. Novak has made four appearances, all in relief, and has recorded a 0.64 ERA in 14.0 innings. He registered the win in UCLA's 3-2 victory against UC Riverside on Tuesday, Feb. 13. Novak has limited hitters to a .167 batting average and has tallied 13 strikeouts, the second-highest total on the staff.
Several Bruins and Dirtbags have hometown conections. Freshman J.D. Haver grew up in Long Beach, Calif. and attended Wilson HS. Senior Tim Stewart and Long Beach State's Danny Espinosa are both from Santa Ana, Calif. and attended Mater Dei HS. Senior Paul Schmidt and Long Beach State's Bobby McMurray both played for Mesa Community College in 2005. Dirtbag outfielder Zach Barger and Bruin right-hander Brant Rustich both hail from Grossmont, Calif. Sophomore Blair Dunlap and Long Beach State's Jason Corder and T.J. Mittlestaedt both reside in Mission Viejo, Calif.
IN THE POLLS
UCLA has been ranked No. 15 by Baseball America in its Feb. 19 poll. The Bruins began the season ranked No. 13 by Baseball America and rose to No. 11 after winning two of three games against No. 23 Winthrop. UCLA is ranked No. 18 by Rivals.com and No. 27 in the NCBWA's latest poll. The Bruins were slotted at No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches preseason poll.
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. UCLA took two of three games from then-No. 23 Winthrop before dropping three at then-No. 5 Miami.
WHAT'S NEXT - CAL STATE FULLERTON
UCLA hosts St. Paul's University (also known as Rikkyo University) from Japan at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in an exhibition contest. The Bruins' regular-season continues Friday with a three-game series against Cal State Fullerton. The Titans (7-2) began their season with a sweep at home against Stanford before taking the first two of three games at UNLV. Last weekend, Cal State Fullerton dropped a 2-1 decision to Arizona on Friday before bouncing back with consecutive wins against the Wildcats. The Titans outscored Arizona, 19-4, in the three-game series.
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 .351 batting average but has also tallied a .467 (7-for-15) mark with runners on-base. A talented second baseman, Carrithers is hitting .500 (6-for-12) with runners in scoring position and .800 (4-for-5) 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 (90), walks (45) and on-base percentage (.465).
MONEY IN THE BANK
Senior Tim Stewart is hitting .294 (10-for-34) as the Bruins starting first baseman. In the season-opening series against No. 23 Winthrop, Stewart hit at a .444 clip (4-for-9) with two runs, one RBI, two walks and three hit-by-pitches. In Tuesday's 3-2 victory over UC Riverside, he hit 2-for-4 and scored one run. Stewart, in his second season at UCLA, has compiled a .299 average (47-for-157) as a Bruin.
BLACK AND BLUE
Not only has senior Tim Stewart been hitting the ball well early in the season, the ball has been exchanging the favor with the former Mater Dei High School slugger. Stewart has been plunked seven times in 10 games. The first baseman 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. Over the weekend against East Carolina, he drew a hit-by-pitch on Friday and Sunday.
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 seven games. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. resident has thrown out five of nine attempted base stealers. Babineau has thrown out 20 of 47 attempted base stealers in his career at UCLA (42.5 percent). A freshman All-America selection by Baseball America in 2006, Babineau has not committed an error in 523 career chances (459 putouts, 64 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).
HOME SWEET HOME
Through 10 regular-season games, the Bruins have tallied a 6-1 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 last weekend (Feb. 16-18). The Bruins' lone loss at home came on Saturday, Feb. 3 against Winthrop, 6-4. Last season, UCLA recorded a 19-12 mark at home. The Bruins have 23 home games remaining on the 2007 schedule.
UCLA's incoming class was ranked the 13th-best recruiting class in the nation by Baseball America. The incoming freshmen pitchers have suceeded in the first month of the season. Gavin Brooks has posted a 4.05 ERA in three Sunday starts, J.D. Haver has provided 2.2 innings of scoreless relief and Garett Claypool has not allowed a run in his one start and relief appearance (recorded a save).
BIG LEAGUE BRUINS
As major leaguers report for spring training this month, 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.
PAC-10 COACHES PICK UCLA FOURTH
UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches poll, the conference announced on Monday, Jan. 29. 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 the season 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 have been rated as the top prospects within their respective Major League Baseball organizations. Dave Huff, a key starter on UCLA's pitching staff in 2006, has been ranked the No. 10 prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization. Hector Ambriz, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2003, 2005-06), has been tabbed the No. 22 prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks 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 Indians and San Francisco Giants, respectively).
WORTH EVERY PENNY
Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup since opening day and currently boasts a .345 batting average, the fourth-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.
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 record. Crawford played in 23 games, starting 10, and recorded a .257 batting average (9-for-35), The sophomore shortstop collected two doubles, six RBI, seven runs scored, three walks and one stolen base.
Last season's .977 fielding percentage ranked first in the Pac-10. The 2007 team has tallied a .971 mark, having committed 11 errors in 379 total chances. UCLA returns five position players from the 2006 squad. Anchored by catcher Ryan Babineau, who did not commit an error in 445 chances last season, UCLA returns outfielder Blair Dunlap (1.000), first baseman Tim Stewart (.997), outfielder Tim Murphy (.950), shortstop Brandon Crawford (.949) and sophomore Jermaine Curtis (.908).
DON'T BE OFFENDED
After having ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in batting average last season, the Bruins return several reliable bats from 2006. Returning to the Bruins' potent lineup are Brandon Crawford (.318 avg, .297 Pac-10), Cody Decker (.302 avg, .450 Pac-10), Tim Stewart (.301 avg, .277 Pac-10), Blair Dunlap (.300 avg, .302 Pac-10), Ryan Babineau (.258 avg, .351 Pac-10) and Tim Murphy (.254 avg). Also returning to UCLA's lineup is third baseman Jermaine Curtis, who hit .336 as a freshman last year.
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 trip to Coral Gables, Fla., UCLA will play at Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, Ole Miss (Oxford, Miss.), San Diego State, Stanford (Palo Alto, Calif.), USC, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Pepperdine (Malibu, Calif.), Arizona State (Tempe, Ariz.) and Washington State (Pullman, Wash.).