April 23, 2007
Los Angeles - The No. 18 UCLA baseball team hits the road Tuesday to face UC Riverside in a non-conference showdown at 6 p.m. The Bruins will send right-hander Garett Claypool to the hill one week after the freshman earned his first career victory in UCLA's 6-2 win over No. 11 Pepperdine. UCLA has won 14 of its last 16 games and currently rides a seven-game win streak.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
UCLA - Garett Claypool (RHP) vs. UCR - Dan Runzler (LHP)
Tuesday's game in Riverside, Calif., can be followed via CSTV's GameTracker (at uclabruins.com).
BRUINS TAKE FOUR
UCLA finished last week with a perfect 4-0 record, posting a Tuesday-night win over No. 11 Pepperdine before winning three games against Cal State Northridge in two days. The Bruins' Friday evening series opener against the Matadors was rained out. One day later, UCLA cruised past Cal State Northridge in game one, 8-3, before using a ninth-inning rally to defeat the Matadors, 6-5, in game two. The Bruins staged another late rally Sunday afternoon to knock off Cal State Northridge, 12-8.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
UCLA has won 14 of its last 16 games, the program's best 16-game stretch since 1997...The Bruins have won their last seven games, which includes weekend sweeps of USC and CSUN...UCLA has tallied two separate seven game win streaks for the first time since 2000...UCLA's 8-1 Pac-10 start is its best conference start in the modern era (through the first nine games)...the Bruins have won six-consecutive road games for the first time since 1997...UCLA's 14-2 stretch began when the Bruins scored a school-record 14 runs in the eighth inning to overcome an 8-0 deficit against Pacific (March 25).
Cody Decker has hit .400 (22-for-55) in UCLA's last 13 games, belting eight home runs and totaling 28 RBI and 11 runs in that span. Decker earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for the week of April 9-15 after hitting .538 at USC. Last weekend against Cal State Northridge, the Santa Monica, Calif., native blasted his team-leading 10th home run.
THE HOT CORNER
With third baseman Jermaine Curtis in the lineup, the Bruins have posted a 12-2 record. Curtis has recorded a .302 average with 12 RBI through 13 games. Over the weekend, Curtis registered a .545 batting average (6-for-11) with a team-leading five runs scored and two RBI. The Fontana, Calif., resident hit 3-for-4 in each of UCLA's final two games against the Matadors. In game two of Saturday's afternoon doubleheader, Curtis scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
THE COMEBACK KIDS
In UCLA's last two games, the Bruins used late rallies to overcome deficits and defeat Cal State Northridge. The Bruins trailed by two runs in as late as the eighth inning of game two, before winning with a walk-off base-hit in the ninth inning. On Sunday, UCLA trailed 8-6 in the sixth inning and rallied to win 12-8. The Bruins' most impressive comeback took place against Pacific on March 25, when UCLA scored a school-record 14 runs in the eighth inning to overcome a 8-1 deficit and win 15-8.
Freshman right-hander Garett Claypool takes the hill Tuesday at UC Riverside and will make his fifth collegiate start (all Tuesday nights). One week ago, Claypool pitched five scoreless innings to lead UCLA past No. 11 Pepperdine, 6-2. Claypool has tallied a 1.62 ERA in his four starts this season, limiting the opposition to three earned runs and 11 hits in 16.2 innings. The freshman from West Hills, Calif., has also made 10 relief appearances.
HE'S A PAC-10 GUY
Catcher Ryan Babineau has excelled in Pac-10 play, not only in 2007 but also in 2006. The sophomore backstop from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., leads UCLA with a .455 average (15-for-33) in Pac-10 play. Babineau has totaled four home runs, two doubles, 12 runs and 11 RBI in conference action. Last season, he tallied a .351 average (26-for-74) with three home runs and 11 RBI in Pac-10 action.
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 19 games against teams currently ranked in Baseball America's 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. Following last weekend's three-game sweep of Cal State Northridge, Collegiate Baseball has ranked UCLA No. 18 and Baseball America has tabbed the Bruins No. 25
ON DECK - ARIZONA
UCLA opens a three-game series against Arizona this weekend (April 27-29). Last season, the Bruins won the final two of three games at Arizona (April 13-15). UCLA currently stands in first place in the Pac-10 standings with an 8-1 mark, as Arizona (9-3) occupies third place.
BEST PAC-10 STARTS
The Bruins have never started with an 8-1 record or better through their first nine conference games in the modern era. After starting 5-0 in the Pac-10 over three weeks ago, UCLA was off to its best conference start since 1977, when the Bruins began their Pac-8 schedule with a 5-0 mark before ending the season 10-8 in the conference. UCLA's 1967 squad began its AAWU slate with a 6-0 record.
The Bruins made history on Sunday, March 25 against Pacific. Trailing 8-1 in the eighth, UCLA posted a school-record 14-run inning to defeat the Tigers, 15-8. Sophomore Cody Decker inititated the Bruins' heroics with a grand slam and finished with a career-high five RBI. UCLA had previously scored 13 runs in one inning - versus Winthrop on Feb. 4, 2007 and against Arizona State on Feb. 28, 1997.
MAKING MORE HISTORY
One weekend after the series win against Pacific, UCLA became the first team to sweep Stanford at Sunken Diamond in a three-game regular-season series since Arizona State accomplished the feat in 1997. Stanford had not been swept at home in its previous 71 home series. UCLA had not swept the Cardinal on the road since 1991 and had not swept a series against Stanford since 1997.
Sophomores Jermaine Curtis and Brandon Crawford have excelled under the lights in 2007. Curtis is hitting .409 (9-for-22) with nine RBI and five runs in six night games. Through 18 night contests, Crawford has posted a .388 batting average (26-for-67) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, 14 runs scored, 15 RBI and five stolen bases.
BRUINS DIG THE LONG BALL
After having tallied just eight home runs through the first 22 games, UCLA has crushed 24 home runs through the last 16 games. In that 16-game span, Cody Decker has blasted nine long balls and Ryan Babineau has belted four round-trippers. Both Decker and Babineau have registered one multi-home run game. Decker had two home runs in UCLA's 16-11 win at Stanford (March 31), and Babineau smacked two home runs in the Bruins' 11-2 rout of Washington (April 6).
WORTH EVERY PENNY
Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup since opening day and currently boasts a .352 batting average, the second-highest mark on the team. The La Cañada, Calif., native has been a great asset to the team as a starter and coming off the bench. Hitting 3-for-6 as a pinch-hitter, Penniall has totaled 25 hits, 14 runs, 12 RBI, 32 total bases and four stolen bases in 24 games (17 starts).
BIG LEAGUE BRUINS
When Major League Baseball kicked off its season April 2, eight former UCLA ballplayers earned spots on a major league roster. Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Eric Byrnes (Arizona), Jeff Conine (Cincinnati), Troy Glaus (Toronto), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Adam Melhuse (Oakland), Dave Roberts (San Francisco) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia) entered the 2007 season on their teams' respective 25-man opening day roster.
Sophomore Blair Dunlap and freshman Jeff Rapoport are unavailable to play due to shoulder injuries. Senior Nolan Rouse (arm) and Tim Stewart (hand) are also unavailable to play this week.
WALLACE WATCH LIST
Sophomore Brandon Crawford was named to the 2007 Wallace Watch List by the College Baseball Foundation in November. The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. 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.
Playing a road schedule that has featured trips to Miami, Ole Miss, San Diego State, Stanford and USC the Bruins have traveled roughly 10,554 miles this season, round trips included. UCLA played at the University of Miami (2,744 mi.) in the second weekend of the season, traveled for a game at Long Beach State (35 mi.) and Cal State Fullerton (42 mi.), spent back-to-back weekends at Ole Miss (1,900 mi.) and San Diego State (135 mi.), opened Pac-10 play at Stanford (410 mi.) and drove to play USC (12 mi.). UCLA's remaining road slate includes trips to Arizona State and Washington State and Tuesday night games at UC Riverside, UC Irvine and Pepperdine.
STAYING IN THE GOLDEN STATE
The Bruins will have played their last 21 games in California and will stay in the Golden State for hte next nine contests (six at home, three on the road). UCLA will host Arizona (3) and California (3). In-state road games include 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. UCLA will hit the road for consecutive weekends when playing at Arizona State and Washington State.
UCLA has not played any extra-inning games this season. In 2006, the Bruins won two of three extra-inning contests. The Bruins defeated Washington, 3-2, in 11 innings and topped Arizona State, 11-10, in 10 innings. Washington State edged UCLA, 4-3 in 10 frames. Under head coach John Savage, the Bruins have compiled a 4-3 record in extra-inning games.
JANSSEN BOLSTERS JAYS' BULLPEN
Former UCLA right-hander Casey Janssen earned a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen. In seven relief outings, Janssen has limited opponents to two runs off eight hits while striking out two (through Sunday, April 22). He has tallied a 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings pitched. The former Bruin earned his first major league save on April 8, striking out one without allowing a hit in 2.0 scoreless innings.
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).