March 18, 2009
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA baseball team opens its Pac-10 schedule with a three-game series at USC this weekend, beginning Saturday at 2 p.m. While the Trojans hold a 250-114 advantage in the all-time series, UCLA (5-12) has won seven of the past nine contests against its crosstown rival. One year ago, UCLA and USC (7-8) split four games, as the Bruins extended their win streak at USC's Dedeaux Field to four games. The Bruins will send freshman right-hander Gerrit Cole (1-2, 3.15 ERA) to the mound on Saturday, and USC will counter with junior right-hander Brad Boxberger (2-1, 1.69 ERA).
SERIES VS. USC: USC leads, 250-114
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: UCLA, one win
PROBABLE PITCHERS (at USC's Dedeaux Field)
Saturday, March 21, 2 p.m.
UCLA - Gerrit Cole, RHP, Fr. (1-2, 3.15)
USC - Brad Boxberger, RHP, Jr. (2-1, 1.69)
Sunday, March 22, 2 p.m.
UCLA - Rob Rasmussen, LHP, So. (1-0, 6.00)
USC - TBD
Monday, March 23, 6 p.m.
UCLA - Charles Brewer, RHP, Jr. (0-2, 4.35)
USC - Kevin Couture, RHP, Jr. (3-1, 4.32)
GETTING TO DEDEAUX FIELD
Single-game admission to USC's Dedeaux Field costs eight dollars, and parking costs three dollars (attendant must be notified that you are there for the UCLA-USC baseball game). Located just south of downtown Los Angeles on the campus of USC near the intersection of Jefferson and Vermont Streets, Dedeaux Field is near the 110 and 10 freeways. For those traveling on the 10 East, exit Vermont Ave. Turn right from the offramp onto Vermont (heading south). Turn left at Jefferson Blvd and continue to McClintock Ave. Turn right onto McClintock (parking gate No. 5). For Monday's game, continue south on Vermont Ave. and turn left at 36th Place (parking gate No. 6). Map of USC's campus
UCLABruins.com Radio will broadcast all three games at USC this weekend, live from Dedeaux Field. Third-year UCLA broadcaster Tim Wilhelm will the call. Fans can catch live audio broadcasts of all home baseball games online at uclabruins.com. Aside from this weekend's action at USC, uclabruins.com will feature audio broadcasts of additional Pac-10 road series at Stanford (April 9-11) and at Arizona State (May 22-24). All broadcasts are free of charge.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- Five hitters in UCLA's batting lineup are hitting above .333 - Murray, Haerther, Aielli, Uribe and Dunlap.
- Second baseman Eddie Murray has logged a team-high .500 batting average on the road (10 games).
- Right-hander Gerrit Cole is averaging 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings, leading UCLA with 30 this season.
- Infielder Cody Decker has belted a team-leading six home runs, including four in the team's last five games.
- Right-hander Trevor Bauer leads UCLA's pitching staff with 22.0 innings, having registered 22 strikeouts.
- UCLA's pitching staff logged 36 strikeouts in 27 innings (three games) at East Carolina last weekend.
UCLA returns to Los Angeles for three road games this weekend, as the Bruins continue their early-season string of road contests at Dedeaux Field. After having opened their 2009 campaign with three home games against UC Davis, the Bruins have played 10 of their last 14 contests on the road. UCLA is currently amidst a 12-game span, featuring 10 games away from home. Playing against a schedule ranked in the preseason as the No. 1 most challenging slate in the nation by Boyd's World, UCLA has spent the last three weekends at Houston's Minute Maid Park (Houston College Classic), Oklahoma and East Carolina, respectively.
Eight of UCLA's first 17 games have come against teams ranked in Baseball America's weekly top-25 poll, as ranked during the week of competition. In all, 13 of those games have been played versus opponents ranked in the top-30 in at least one of the major college baseball polls (Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball). When Collegiate Baseball weekly newspaper released its preseason top-40 poll, UCLA's schedule featured 51 of 56 games against teams either ranked in or receiving votes in the publication's preseason poll.
Senior infielder Cody Decker earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors on Tuesday, March 17, after having batted .333 (6-for-18) with four homers and 10 RBI in five games last week. Decker vaulted into UCLA's team lead with six home runs and 17 RBI. He went 5-for-12 (.417) with three home runs, eight RBI and four runs in two days (three games) at East Carolina. UCLA overcame a 9-4 deficit in game one on Friday, as Decker led the way with two home runs and five RBI (third multiple-home run game of his career). The four-year Bruin belted a three-run homer in the series finale to bring UCLA within 7-5 of East Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
Senior infielder Eddie Murray leads UCLA with a .400 batting average (20-for-50), having made 16 starts, all at second base. Murray spent his first three seasons in Westwood as a backup to All-Pac-10 selections Brandon Crawford, Jermaine Curtis and Alden Carrithers. But the former standout at Gahr High School has provided an immense boost to the Bruins in 2009, ranking fourth in the Pac-10 in batting average (.400), first in on-base percentage (.552) and fifth in slugging percentage (.700) through Tuesday's games. Murray has scored two runs in each of UCLA's last four games and has hit safely in 12 contests this season.
BRINGING THE HEAT
Freshman right-hander Gerrit Cole will make his fifth start of the season Saturday, bringing a 3.15 ERA and .205 opponent average into the series opener. He registered a season-high 12 strikeouts in five innings at East Carolina last Friday, being forced out of the game due to a rain suspension (game resumed following morning). Cole allowed one unearned run and one hit in his first start (Feb. 21, UC Davis), striking out seven in six innings. The former standout at Orange Lutheran High School logged eight strikeouts in six innings against Baylor (Feb. 27, at Minute Maid Park), absorbing the loss after allowing one unearned run and two hits in six innings.
Center fielder Blair Dunlap has thrived early in the 2009 season, having logged a .333 batting average and .403 on-base percentage through 17 games. Dunlap saw his career-high 11-game hitting streak end at East Carolina on Saturday, March 14. The resident of Mission Viejo, Calif., had logged a .348 batting average (16-for-46) with one homer and five doubles in that 11-game span. Dunlap currently leads the Bruins with eight stolen bases and is tied for the team lead with seven doubles (with Eddie Murray).
UCLA has played its fair share of close ballgames, nearly one-third of the way through the 2009 season. In all, 15 games have ended by a four-run margin or smaller. Six of UCLA's 12 losses have been of the one-run variety, and three of UCLA's five wins have come by three runs or less. UCLA overcame deficits of three runs or larger in both wins at East Carolina last weekend. The Bruins trailed by a 9-4 tally after three innings in game one of a doubleheader last Friday before scoring six unanswered runs to earn a 10-9 victory. In the second contest on Friday, UCLA overcame deficits of three runs and one run to win, 8-6.
Following this weekend's three-game series at USC, the Bruins play at No. 17 Pepperdine next Wednesday (3 p.m.) before hosting Arizona for three games beginning Friday, March 27. UCLA dropped a 5-4 decision to Pepperdine on March 3, as Waves' third baseman Colin Rooney belted a tie-breaking solo home run in the top of the ninth inning to lead Pepperdine. Last season, UCLA won the first two of three games at Arizona (March 28-30). The Bruins have won the season series against Arizona each of the last three years.
CELEBRATING 90 YEARS
The 2009 baseball season marks the 90th year of UCLA baseball. The Bruins have fielded a baseball team every year since 1920, when head coach Fred Cozens led UCLA to a 3-10 overall record. In 90 seasons, the baseball program has seen eight head coaches and totaled 15 NCAA Tournament appearances. Most recently, the Bruins have logged three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths for the first time in program history. UCLA has totaled 33 wins each of the past three seasons.
PRIDE OF POLY
Sophomore left-hander Rob Rasmussen, a former standout at Pasadena Polytechnic, will start on the mound for UCLA on Sunday afternoon (2 p.m.). A 27th-round draft selection by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007, Rasmussen brings a 1-0 record and 6.00 ERA into Sunday's contest. Rasmussen earned the victory in UCLA's season opener against UC Davis (Feb. 20), scattering two hits in five scoreless innings. One week later, Rasmussen limited Rice (Feb. 27) to three runs and six hits in six innings at Houston's Minute Maid Park and did not record a decision. Rasmussen has totaled 12 strikeouts and nine walks in 18.0 innings.
EARNING HIS TIME
Senior Gino Aielli has broken into the Bruins' starting lineup after having gone 3-for-3 with two doubles in UCLA's final game of the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park (March 1). The utility infielder and catcher transferred to UCLA in the summer of 2007 and played in six games as a junior last spring. Aielli has hit safely in seven of 12 games this season and went 3-for-5 in three games at East Carolina last weekend. He currently boasts a .357 average, the third-highest mark on the team.
Four Bruins earned Houston College Classic All-Tournament Team honors, as announced the evening of March 1. Representing UCLA on the All-Tournament Team were first baseman Casey Haerther (8-for-12), second baseman Eddie Murray (4-for-12, 2 RBI, 1 R), outfielder Blair Dunlap (5-for-12) and pitcher Gerrit Cole (6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 8 K). Rice's Ryan Berry earned Houston College Classic Most Outstanding Player accolades after having totaled 12 strikeouts in a complete game, two-hit shutout of Texas A&M on Feb. 28.
MAJOR LEAGUE HOMER
Junior outfielder Justin Uribe was the only player in any of UCLA's three games in the Houston College Classic to belt a home run at Minute Maid Park. Uribe connected for his first home run of the year in the ninth inning against UC Irvine on March 1. That marked the second homer Uribe has belted at a major league ballpark. As a senior at Foothill High School (Santa Ana, Calif.), Uribe ripped a game-tying three-run blast at Angel Stadium to lead Foothill to the 2006 CIF Southern Section Division II Championship against St. Francis High School. The left-handed hitter enters this weekend's series at USC with a .356 average and .444 on-base percentage.
Freshman right-hander Trevor Bauer leads UCLA with 22.0 innings on the mound, having registered a 2.45 ERA and 22 strikeouts in eight appearances (one start). Bauer recorded nine strikeouts in 9.2 innings last week, lasting six innings in his first career start (March 11, vs. San Diego State) before notching five strikeouts in 3.2 innings of relief (March 13, at East Carolina) to record his first career victory. Bauer has allowed just two earned runs in his last 14.2 innings of work, notching a 1.29 ERA in UCLA's last 10 games. Bauer enrolled at UCLA in January after having graduated one semester early from Hart High School.