March 12, 2008
LOS ANGELES - The No. 11 UCLA baseball team opens a three-game series against Cal Poly beginning Thursday, March 13, in San Luis Obispo, Calif. UCLA last faced Cal Poly on opening weekend in 2005, the first three games at UCLA for head coach John Savage. Junior left-hander Tim Murphy will start for the Bruins on Thursday evening. Freshman right-hander Dan Klein makes his first weekend start on Friday night, and sophomore lefty Gavin Brooks will close the series Saturday. This weekend's games mark UCLA's first weekend road series in 2008. UCLA owns a 14-3 edge in the all-time series, since 1955.
Thursday, March 13 - 6 p.m.
UCLA's Tim Murphy, LHP, Jr. (2-0, 0.38 ERA) vs. Cal Poly's Eric Massingham, RHP, Jr. (1-2, 4.22 ERA)
Friday, March 14 - 6 p.m.
UCLA's Dan Klein, RHP, Fr. (2-2, 4.20 ERA) vs. Cal Poly's Derrick Saito, LHP, Jr. (1-1, 4.60 ERA)
Saturday, March 15 - 1 p.m.
UCLA's Gavin Brooks, LHP, So. (0-0, 4.00 ERA) vs. Cal Poly's Steven Fischback, RHP, So. (2-1, 3.38 ERA)
BIG LEAGUE SCHEDULE
The Bruins are currently playing through a 19-day stretch featuring 14 games, the final three of which take place this weekend. The 19-game span began at Cal State Northridge (Feb. 26) in a game suspended in the eighth inning (darkness) with the Bruins leading, 22-2. The following evening, UCLA defeated UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings. That weekend, the Bruins played three teams in three days as part of the inaugural Urban Invitational. Last week, UCLA played a pair of games against Cal State Fullerton before closing the week with a three-game set against St. Mary's. Following this weekend's series at Cal Poly, the Bruins enter finals week and return to the field Friday, March 21, against Long Beach State.
BRUINS RIDE PAST WAVES
UCLA improved its record to 8-4 Tuesday evening, cruising past Pepperdine, 11-3, at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Cody Decker helped power the Bruins' offense, hitting 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, two runs and two RBI. Blair Dunlap and Alden Carrithers also each totaled two RBI. The Bruins belted three home runs, including two in the bottom of the eighth (Carrithers and Gabe Cohen). In all, UCLA's offense pounded out 14 hits in the non-conference win. Left-hander Justin Uribe improved to 2-0, pitching five scoreless innings and scattering three hits in his first collegiate start. Right-hander Charles Brewer recorded five strikeouts in four innings to earn his first collegiate save.
MURPHY MAKES IT COUNT
Junior Tim Murphy will make his fourth start of the season, his fifth appearance on the hill, this Thursday. Murphy, a 6-foot-2 left-hander from Vista, Calif., has registered a 19.1 scoreless innings streak, dating back to UCLA's season-opening doubleheader (Feb. 23). Last Friday, Murphy recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts, limiting St. Mary's to one hit in seven scoreless innings. The Bruins last fired a one-hitter May 14, 2000, in a 10-0 win against Arizona. The junior left-hander earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors on Tuesday, March 4, after having thrown 11.0 scoreless innings the previous week. Murphy hurled a complete game shutout against Bethune-Cookman (March 1), totaling 10 strikeouts in the 2-0 win. That effort marked the first complete game shutout by a Bruin since Feb. 25, 2005, when Hector Ambriz blanked Pacific.
Freshman right-hander Dan Klein has earned four decisions in the Bruins' first 12 games. Klein has logged a 4.20 ERA in 15.0 innings. In UCLA's season-opening doubleheader, Klein earned the victory in game one and was tagged with the loss in game two early that evening. Klein made his first collegiate start on Tuesday, March 4, against Cal State Fullerton, absorbing the loss after allowing six runs (five earned) in 5.1 innings. The freshman pitcher evened his record to 2-2 on Saturday, limiting St. Mary's to one run and four hits in three innings of relief. Klein was a three-year varsity baseball letterwinner and three-year starting quarterback at Servite High School (Anaheim, Calif.), receiving several offers from Pac-10 schools to play football.
BRINGING THE HEAT
Sophomore left-hander Gavin Brooks will make his third start of the season in Saturday's series finale. Brooks has logged a 4.00 ERA in 9.0 innings this spring, totaling 11 strikeouts. The Vista, Calif., resident has not earned a decision in either start. As a freshman in 2007, Brooks ended his season pitching three consecutive complete games, two coming in postseason play. In UCLA's 2-1 elimination loss at Cal State Fullerton (June 10) in NCAA Super Regional action, Brooks limited the Titans to two runs while striking out a career-high 12 batters in eight innings. Prior to the complete game against Fullerton, Brooks went the distance in a 3-2 victory over Illinois-Chicago (June 2) at the NCAA Long Beach Regional and in UCLA's final regular-season game, a 5-2 win over eventual national champion Oregon State.
CARRITHERS IN THE CLUTCH
Senior second baseman Alden Carrithers has posted a team-leading .391 batting average through UCLA's first 12 games. Carrithers, who led the Bruins with a .352 average last season, boasts a .491 on-base percentage this spring (18 hits, seven walks and two hit-by-pitches). Against Pepperdine on Tuesday, Carrithers hit 2-for-5 with one solo home run, one triple and two RBI. The Portland, Ore., resident registered the game-winning hit in a 5-4, 13-inning victory over UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27) and recorded a go-ahead, two-RBI double at USC just four days later (March 2). In five games last week, Carrithers posted a .412 batting average, registering three stolen bases, five runs and three walks.
THE ARMS RACE
UCLA's pitching staff has posted a 3.47 ERA in 114.0 innings. Left-hander Tim Murphy has led the charge with a team-best 0.38 ERA in 24.0 innings. Junior left-hander Brendan Lafferty has logged a 2.81 ERA in 16.0 innings (five relief appearances), totaling 11 strikeouts. Freshman right-hander Dan Klein has totaled a 2-2 record and 4.20 ERA in five games (one start). Freshman left-hander Matt Grace has limited the opposition to one run and two hits in 3.2 innings (three relief appearances). Opponents are hitting the Bruins' pitching staff at a .252 clip.
Sophomore left-hander Justin Uribe scattered three hits in five scoreless innings Tuesday night, earning the victory in his first collegiate start. Uribe made just two relief appearances in 2007 and one relief stint in extra innings earlier this season (earning the victory) before making his first start on the hill as a Bruin this week. On the season, Uribe has pitched six scoreless innings, allowing three hits (zero extra-base hits), striking out four and walking three. Opponents are hitting Uribe at a .143 clip. The Santa Ana, Calif., resident has primarily spent his career at UCLA as the Bruins' center fielder. In 56 games, Uribe has posted a .271 average, collecting two home runs, 21 RBI, 29 runs and 11 doubles.
Two of the Bruins' first three games this season extended into extra innings. UCLA played a 12-inning game (L, 3-2) against Oklahoma in the nightcap of a season-opening doubleheader on Feb. 23. The Bruins outlasted UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings on Feb. 27, a game that lasted five hours and 35 minutes. Last season, UCLA did not play any extra frames. In the Bruins' two extra inning ballgames this season, UCLA's bullpen allowed just three runs and 13 hits in 16.1 innings (1.65 ERA). The Bruins last played an extra inning game of 13 innings or longer on April 18, 2003, when UCLA won at Arizona State, 8-7.
THROW SOME K'S
Bruin pitchers recorded 18 strikeouts in 13 innings against UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 27. No UCLA ballclub had totaled 18 strikeouts or more since March 25, 2000, when the Bruins fanned 18 batters in a 2-1 home loss to Washington. Left-hander Tim Murphy has struck out 21 batters in his last two starts (10 vs. Bethune-Cookman, 11 vs. Saint Mary's). Collectively, the UCLA pitching staff has logged 102 strikeouts in 114.0 innings. Sophomore right-hander Charles Brewer ranks second with 15 strikeouts in 20.2 innings.
Redshirt senior outfielder Brady Dolan has been a consistent contributor through the season's first 12 games. Dolan, who has tallied a .281 batting average and scored four runs, hit safely in four of the Bruins' first six games. In his third season with the UCLA baseball program, Dolan has emerged as one of the team's most veteran leaders. In the team's season-opening win against Oklahoma, Dolan hit 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI. Dolan led UCLA with two hits in a 2-0 win against Bethune-Cookman on March 1. A proud native of Reno, Nev., Dolan arrived at UCLA in the fall of 2005 after having spent the 2004 season at UC Irvine (under then-head coach John Savage) and 2005 at Sierra College (Citrus Heights, Calif.).
TAKING DOWN THE TROJANS
In a rare non-conference game between UCLA and USC on Sunday, March 2, redshirt junior Brendan Lafferty helped keep the Trojans at bay, throwing five scoreless innings to earn his first victory of the season. Lafferty scattered two hits in his third appearance of the spring and retired 12 consecutive hitters from the fifth through ninth innings. The 6-foot-4 left-hander from Riverside, Calif., induced 10 groundball outs (six in the final two innings to second baseman Alden Carrithers) and three fly outs. UCLA has now won the last six meetings between the crosstown rivals and the last four contests against USC at Dedeaux Field.
PROJECTIONS AND PREDICTIONS
Baseball America has tabbed UCLA as its preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 Conference. The national baseball publication predicts the Bruins to finish ahead of Arizona, Oregon State and Arizona State, respectively. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, outfielder Gabe Cohen and left-handed starter Gavin Brooks have been tabbed preseason All-Pac-10 selections by Baseball America. The publication lists Rob Rasmussen as one of the five top newcomers and pegs Crawford and left-hander Tim Murphy as the second- and sixth-best pro prospects in this year's draft class. Baseball America lists Jermaine Curtis as the conference's best defensive third baseman and Brandon Crawford as the Pac-10's best defensive shortstop.
Junior shortstop Brandon Crawford has continued to earn preseason accolades. Crawford is one of 75 players to have been named to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List. At season's end, the Golden Spikes Award is presented to the top college baseball player. The Pleasanton, Calif., resident has also been named a second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America and a third-team preseason All-America selection by Louisville Slugger and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). In UCLA's last four games, Crawford has hit at a .438 clip, totaling five RBI, three runs and two stolen bases.
Junior Ryan Babineau has been named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list, as announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award is given annually to the top Division-I collegiate catcher. Babineau has caught more games than any Pac-10 catcher (123), making 119 starts. In UCLA's 7-6 win over St. Mary's on Saturday, Babineau lined a pinch-hit two-RBI double, breaking a 5-5 tie. Babineau has committed two errors in 980 chances (.998 pct.), throwing out 33 of 84 attempted base stealers (39.3 pct). At the plate, Babineau has registered a career .268 average with 11 home runs, 65 RBI and 61 runs.
TWO DOLLAR TUESDAYS
All season long, tickets to Tuesday evening games at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium will cost just two dollars. The promotion began on Tuesday, March 11, in a 11-3 victory over Pepperdine. The remaining Tuesday night games include non-conference opponents San Diego State (April 1), UC Irvine (April 8), Cal State Northridge (April 15), UNLV (April 22) and San Diego (May 6).
THE POLL IN THE PAC
UCLA has been selected third out of nine teams in the Pac-10 preseason coaches' poll. The Bruins have been picked to finish behind Arizona and Arizona State, respectively. Arizona captured six first-place votes, and Arizona State picked up the remaining three first-place votes. Last season, UCLA was picked fourth in the preseason coaches' poll and finished third, with a 14-10 Pac-10 record.
MARCH-ING THROUGH THE SEASON
Following this weekend's three-game series at Cal Poly, the Bruins enter finals week (winter quarter) before playing three games in two days against Long Beach State (March 21-22). The Bruins host the 49ers on Friday at 6 p.m. before traveling to Long Beach State's Blair Field for a Saturday afternoon doubleheader. The next week, UCLA plays a Tuesday evening game at San Diego State. The weekend of March 28-30, the Bruins open Pac-10 play with a three-game series at Arizona.
Freshman left-hander Rob Rasmussen will miss 8-10 weeks with a fractured left foot (return expected early May). Rasmussen sustained the injury on a line drive comebacker in the third inning against UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27). Freshman outfielder Jeff Rapoport (shoulder) missed the 2007 season rehabilitating a shoulder injury and is expected back later this spring. Freshman right-hander Erik Goeddel and junior right-hander Tim Schlatter are both sidelined with arm injuries.
ON THE WEB
All UCLA home games can be listened to and viewed online (streaming video) at uclabruins.com. Danny Lee and Tim Wilhelm have the call at UCLA's official athletics website. Lee enters his fourth season behind the microphone at Jackie Robinson Stadium, and Wilhelm returns for his second season with the Bruins. Additionally, audio broadcasts of UCLA's road series at Arizona (March 28-30), Oregon State (May 9-11) and California (May 23-25) will be carried live online. Nearly all of the Bruins' regular-season ballgames can be followed live through CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com. All three games this weekend can be accessed via CSTV's GameTracker.