Feb. 15, 2007
East Carolina (2-1) at No. 15 UCLA (3-4)
Jackie Robinson Stadium (1,250)
Friday, Feb. 16 (6 p.m.)
Saturday, Feb. 17 (2 p.m.)
Friday, Feb. 18 (1 p.m.)
UCLA opens a three-game series against East Carolina on Friday at 6 p.m. Friday's contest marks the first-ever meeting between both schools. The Bruins will send right-hander Tyson Brummett to the mound, and East Carolina's T.J. Hose will start for the Pirates. UCLA has compiled a 6-3 record against current Conference-USA programs (since 1975). The Bruins look to improve upon their 3-1 mark this season at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
ON THE HILL
Senior right-hander Tyson Brummett has compiled a 1.15 ERA in his first two starts. The Salem, Utah native earned the victory in UCLA's season-opener versus Winthrop by holding the Eagles to one run in 8.0 innings. One week later, the right-hander limited Miami to one run off three hits, striking out eight in the Bruins' 1-0 series-opening loss. Brummett has recorded 14 strikeouts and five walks through 15.2 innings. The Bruins' ace has limited opponents to a .176 batting average. East Carolina's T.J. Hose gave up five runs off seven hits in 3.2 innings on Friday, Feb. 9, as the Pirates dropped a 6-2 decision to Liberty in both teams' season openers. As a sophomore in 2006, Hose posted a 3-4 record with a 3.88 ERA in 67.1 innings pitched (15 appearances, 11 starts).
ABOUT THE PIRATES
East Carolina won two of three games at home last weekend against Liberty. In the season-opening series for both schools, the Pirates lost Friday evening, 6-2, before bouncing back with wins on Saturday (11-2) and Sunday (7-4). Outfielder Harrison Eldridge, a junior from Knoxville, Tenn., recorded a .583 batting average (7-for-12) over the weekend, swatting two doubles, scoring six runs and collecting two RBI. Junior shortstop Dale Mollenhauer finished 4-for-12 with one home run, one double, five RBI and three runs. East Carolina is led by Billy Godwin, who recorded a 33-26 record in his first season as the Pirates' head coach in 2006. Located in Greenville, N.C., East Carolina University maintains a total enrollment of 23,164 students (17,728 undergraduates) and was founded in 1907.
Four UCLA pitchers combined to record 15 strikeouts in UCLA's 3-2 victory over UC Riverside on Tuesday, Feb. 13. Freshman Garett Claypool earned the start for the Bruins (first collegiate appearance) and fanned three Highlanders in 3.0 innings. Sophomore Jason Novak registered seven strikeouts in 4.0 innings of relief, and senior Kevin Brophy followed with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, totaling two strikeouts. Junior Brant Rustich struck out the side in the ninth inning to record his second save. At the plate, sophomore Brandon Crawford hit 3-for-4 with one triple, two singles and two runs scored. Sophomore Ryan Babineau had two of the Bruins' three RBI with a single up the middle on an 0-2 count with two outs in the first inning.
WELCOME BACK...TO 1997
UCLA will honor the 1997 College World Series baseball team 20 minutes prior to Saturday's 2 p.m. game against East Carolina. Several former Bruins from the '97 squad will return to Jackie Robinson Stadium for the 10-year anniversary celebration. Players from the 1997 team will line up and throw out the ceremonial first pitch to members of the 2007 squad. The 1997 UCLA baseball team set the school record for wins in a season, amassing a 45-21-1 overall record, including a 19-11 Pac-10 record (second-place finish). That season, the Bruins began the season 20-2-1 before finishing the year in the College World Series.
IN THE POLLS
UCLA has been ranked No. 15 by Baseball America in its Feb. 12 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. 19 by Rivals.com and No. 27 by 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 on the road at No. 5 Miami last weekend.
LAST WEEKEND AT MIAMI
The Bruins lost all three games last weekend at No. 5 Miami in similar fashion. Senior Tyson Brummett allowed just one run on three hits while striking out eight in 7.2 innings in a 1-0 loss Friday evening. On Saturday night, the Bruins trailed 6-3 in the seventh inning and scored five runs in the final three innings to take an 8-6 lead. Crawford and senior Tim Stewart led off the ninth inning with back-to-back home runs, but Miami rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to win, 9-8. Trailing 3-2 in the eighth inning Sunday, freshman Justin Uribe tied the game with a solo home run before Miami answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning and held on for a 7-3 victory.
WHAT'S NEXT - LONG BEACH STATE
UCLA faces Long Beach State at Blair Field next Tuesday (Feb. 20) at 6:30 p.m. The Dirtbags boast a 4-2 record and took two of three games at home from then-No. 7 Texas last weekend. While the Bruins take on East Carolina this weekend, Long Beach State hits the road to face seventh-ranked Rice. Head coach Mike Weathers has compiled a 190-113 record at Long Beach State and is currently in his sixth season. Since 1975, the Bruins own a 35-25 record against the Dirtbags.
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 .296 batting average, but has also tallied a .455 (5-for-11) mark with runners on-base. A talented second baseman, Carrithers is hitting .500 (4-for-8) with runners in scoring position and 1.000 (4-for-4) 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).
HEY WEISS GUY
Junior Mickey Weisser has compiled a .333 batting average through the Bruins' first seven games. Weisser, a transfer from Sierra Junior College (located in Rocklin, Calif.), hit .545 in the Bruins' season-opening series against No. 23 Winthrop. In the series-opener at Miami (Feb. 9), Weisser hit 1-for-3 with a triple. In 2006, Weisser led the Big-7 Conference with a .420 conference average and a .535 on-base percentage before earning Northern California Community College All-America honors.
MONEY IN THE BANK
Senior Tim Stewart is hitting .375 (9-for-24) 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 .312 (46-for-147) average as a Bruin.
TAKING FIVE FOR THE TEAM
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 five times in seven 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 in Friday night's game at Miami and once more in Sunday's series finale.
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 three of six attempted base stealers. Babineau has thrown out 18 of 43 attempted base stealers in his career at UCLA (41.8 percent). A freshman All-America selection by Baseball America in 2006, Babineau has not committed an error in 501 career chances (439 putouts, 62 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).
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. 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. The outfielder hit 2-for-3 in UCLA's 19-5 rout of Winthrop (Feb. 4), and he finished 3-for-9 with one run and one RBI in the final two games at Miami.
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 .977 mark, having committed just six errors in 258 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.
BRUINS TIE ALUMNI, 2-2
The 2007 Bruins tied the "Young-Timers" alumni team, 2-2, in a rain-shortened, six-inning contest Saturday, Jan. 27. Over 85 former UCLA baseball players showed up for the annual Alumni Day at Jackie Robinson Stadium, including former major leaguers Eric Karros and Don Slaught and current MLB players Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Casey Janssen (Toronto) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia).
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 travel to Ole Miss (Oxford, Miss.), San Diego State (San Diego), Stanford (Palo Alto, Calif.), USC (Los Angeles), UC Riverside (Riverside, Calif.), UC Irvine (Irvine, Calif.), Pepperdine (Malibu, Calif.), Arizona State (Tempe, Ariz.) and Washington State (Pullman, Wash.).
SEVEN MORE YEARS
Former Bruin Chase Utley signed a seven-year, $85 million contract extension through 2013 with the Phillies, the ballclub announced Sunday, Jan. 21. Utley, who broke into the major leagues in 2003 after Philadelphia drafted the second baseman as the second overall selection in the 2000 MLB Draft, finished his three-year career at UCLA with a .342 average, 41 doubles, four triples, 53 home runs and 174 RBI. Utley ranks fourth on UCLA's career home runs list (53) and fifth on the all-time hits list (256). His 108 hits in 2000 are the second-most by a Bruin in one season.
HEAD COACH John Savage
John Savage leads the Bruins in his third season at UCLA. A graduate of University of Nevada '91, Savage has coached 13 major-league players in his 14-year career as a college baseball coach. Prior to coaching at UCLA, Savage spent three years as the head coach at UC Irvine, where he brought back a dormant baseball program (school had not fielded a baseball team since 1992).