No. 21 UCLA Baseball Prepares for Crucial Series at No. 10 Arizona State

May 10, 2007

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LOS ANGELES - The No. 21 UCLA baseball team opens a three-game series against No. 10 Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., beginning Friday, May 11, with first pitch slated for 7 p.m. The first-place Bruins enter this weekend's series with a one-game lead over the Sun Devils in the Pac-10 standings. UCLA will send right-hander Tyson Brummett (9-4) to the hill for Friday evening's series opener at Packard Stadium.

Listen to each of the Bruins' three games this weekend on UCLA's Internet Radio, broadcast live via Play-by-play announcer Danny Lee will call the action from Arizona State's Packard Stadium. Saturday night's contest will air live on Fox Sports Net Arizona and on Fox College Sports (Pacific) at 6 p.m. Barry Tompkins and Jerry Kindall will have the call on FSN. Saturday's game will be tape delayed on FSN Prime Ticket Sunday afternoon.

Friday - UCLA, Tyson Brummett, RHP (9-4, 2.92) vs. ASU, TBA
Saturday - UCLA, Tim Murphy, LHP (4-2, 5.18) vs. ASU, TBA
Sunday - UCLA, Gavin Brooks, LHP (3-6, 5.17) vs. ASU, TBA

UCLA has won 20 of its last 25 games, the program's best 25-game stretch since 1997...the Bruins have won 13 of 16 games, highlighted by series wins over USC, Arizona and Cal...UCLA won 10 of its first 11 Pac-10 games, marking its best start in conference play since the 1924 squad finished 10-0 in the Southern California Conference...the Bruins have won eight of their last nine road games, including sweeps of USC and Stanford...UCLA has won six-consecutive conference road games for the first time since 1969...UCLA's 20-5 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).

With third baseman Jermaine Curtis in the lineup, the Bruins have posted an 18-5 record. The sophomore from Fontana, Calif., has hit .438 (21-for-48) through UCLA's last 13 games. Prior to Curtis' return, UCLA had compiled a 10-14 mark. Through 23 games, Curtis has compiled a team-best .352 batting average with two home runs, 25 RBI and a team-leading .444 on-base percentage.

Senior right-hander Tyson Brummett has pitched a Pac-10-leading six complete games through 13 starts this season. UCLA's ace has recorded a 2.92 ERA and 9-4 record in 15 appearances. Brummett has struck out a team-best 88 hitters in 104.2 innings while issuing just 21 walks. The Salem, Utah, native has earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors three times this season.

Sophomore shortstop Brandon Crawford has logged a .344 average (second-highest on the team) and totaled team-highs in at-bats (189), hits (65), runs (44), doubles (15), triples (2), total bases (99) and stolen bases (11). The Pleasanton, Calif., resident's two-RBI double in the fourth inning Tuesday helped give UCLA a 2-0 lead, one which the Bruins would not relinquish at No. 17 Pepperdine.

Freshman right fielder Gabe Cohen belted three home runs in the Bruins two victories against California last weekend. Friday night, Cohen cranked two homers in the Bruins' 13-6 win. Saturday afternoon, he crushed a two-run blast in the eighth inning. In 42 games this season, Cohen has registered a .336 average with nine home runs, 26 runs, 27 RBI and a .566 slugging percentage.

UCLA has been ranked No. 21 by Baseball America, No. 10 by Collegiate Baseball, and No. 24 by The Bruins climbed one spot in each of the three aforementioned polls after finishing last week with a 3-1 mark. One week ago, the Bruins jumped seven spots in Collegiate Baseball and moved from No. 25 to No. 22 in Baseball America after taking two of three from Arizona.

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 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.

UCLA travels to Pullman, Wash., next weekend for a three-game Pac-10 series against Washington State. Last season, the Bruins won two of three games at home against the Cougars. In last season's series, Sean Smith led the team's offense, hitting .500 (5-for-10) with two doubles and an .833 on-base percentage. Brandon Crawford hit .385 (5-for-13) with one home run and one double.

Sophomore first baseman Cody Decker has emerged as the Bruins' most prolific power hitter. Decker has belted a team-leading 12 home runs this season, including two round-trippers last Saturday. Decker swatted two home runs in UCLA's 16-11 rout of Stanford on March 31. Against California last weekend, Decker became the first Bruin to eclipse the 10-home-run plateau since Ryan McCarthy totaled 15 home runs in 2004. The Santa Monica, Calif., resident has also posted a team-best .647 slugging percentage through 40 games (35 starts) this season.

Sophomore Brandon Crawford has been selected to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List and the Dick Howser Trophy Watch List. In addition, Crawford has been tabbed on the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award "Revised" Watch List. Crawford's late game heroics have included a game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning against East Carolina (Feb. 18) and a two-RBI single on an 0-2 count with two outs in the ninth at USC (April 14).

Junior Alden Carrithers has posted a fantastic first season at UCLA, hitting .341 in all 47 games. Carrithers has totaled 61 hits, 40 runs, 12 doubles, two home runs and 28 RBI as the Bruins' everyday second baseman. The Portland, Ore., native has stolen five bases on five attempts, has led UCLA with 25 walks and has registered a .438 on-base percentage. Carrithers arrived to Westwood as a transfer from UC Santa Barbara, where he earned All-Big West honors as a sophomore last season.

Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup and currently boasts a .324 batting average. Penniall, whose father (Dave) played baseball for the Bruins in 1975 and 1976, has played in 33 games (26 starts). The La Cañada, Calif., native has hit 3-for-6 as a pinch-hitter. Overall, Penniall has totaled 33 hits, 16 runs, 13 RBI, 41 total bases and six stolen bases.

Sophomore left-hander Tim Murphy has emerged as one of UCLA's most productive pitchers this season. A coveted two-way player in high school, Murphy has pitched in 14 games (eight weekend starts), recording 66 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. Last week, the Vista, Calif., resident earned his first collegiate save at UC Irvine and led UCLA past California, 7-2, with nine strikeouts in seven innings just five days later. At Pepperdine last Tuesday, Murphy struck out four in 1.2 innings of relief.

Sophomore Jermaine Curtis, senior Will Penniall and freshman Garett Claypool have excelled under the lights in 2007. Curtis is hitting .410 (16-for-39) with 18 RBI and nine runs in 10 night games. Through 13 night contests, Penniall has posted a .390 batting average (16-for-41) . Right-hander Garett Claypool has logged a 1.88 ERA, two victories and 22 strikeouts in 28.2 innings under the lights.

Center fielder Brady Dolan has not committed an error in 39 chances (39 putouts) and first baseman Casey Haerther has also posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage (26 putouts, seven assists). Catcher Ryan Babineau has committed just two errors in 379 chances (337 putouts, 40 assists), registering a .995 fielding percentage. First basemen Tim Stewart and Cody Decker have tallied fielding percentages of .996 and .994, respectively. Each player has committed just one error.

Former Bruin Ben Francisco made his major league debut on Tuesday, May 1, with the Cleveland Indians. Francisco's major-league stay was short lived, as the former Bruin was optioned to Buffalo (AAA) two days later. Currently, eight former UCLA players are on major league rosters - 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).

Sophomore Blair Dunlap and freshman Jeff Rapoport are unavailable to play due to shoulder injuries. Senior Nolan Rouse (arm) and Tim Stewart (hand) are unavailable to play.

UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches poll. 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 third in the Pac-10 with a 13-10 conference mark (33-25 overall).

UCLA finished 12-4 in April, the most victories in one month since the Bruins collected 14 wins in February 1997. UCLA last won 12 or more games in April in 1982, when the Bruins finished the month with a 13-8 record. Last month, Ryan Babineau led the Bruins offense with a .375 average and four home runs. Cody Decker belted six home runs and totaled 24 RBI in 16 games.

The Bruins jumped out to one of their best starts in conference play when they won 10 of their first 11 Pac-10 games. UCLA's best-ever conference start (and finish) took place in 1924, when the Bruins finished their conference slate with a 10-0 mark. 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.

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 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.

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.

27 DOWN, 3 TO GO
Three home games remain in UCLA's 2007 schedule. The Bruins have tallied an 18-9 mark at Jackie Robinson Stadium, UCLA's best home record since 2000, when the baseball team ended its home slate with a 20-10 record (.667 win percentage). While UCLA's regular-season schedule shows nine more Pac-10 games to be played, the Bruins will play at Jackie Robinson Stadium for one last weekend. Following road trips to Arizona State (Tempe, Ariz.) and Washington State (Pullman, Wash.), the Bruins will return home to host 2006 NCAA Champion Oregon State for three games from May 25-27.

Baseball America selected UCLA as its preseason pick to win the Pac-10 title. B.A. projected UCLA to join Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was selected to its 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 (2007). In its ranking of "best tools" in the Pac-10, Baseball America named Crawford as the "best athlete," "best defensive shortstop" and infielder with the "best arm." Ryan Babineau was listed 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."

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 mark. Crawford played in 23 games, starting 10, and hit .257 (9-for-35). He collected two doubles, six RBI, seven runs, three walks and one stolen base.

The Bruins have played their last 30 games in California. This weekend's trip to Tempe, Ariz., will mark UCLA's first trip out of the Golden State since the Bruins place at Ole Miss (Oxford, Miss.) from March 9-11. Next weekend, the Bruins head north to face Washington State in Pullman, Wash. UCLA returns home May 25-27 for a three-game series against defending national champion Oregon 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.

Former UCLA right-hander Casey Janssen has earned a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen. In 12 relief outings, Janssen has limited opponents to two runs off 15 hits while striking out three (through Tuesday, May 8). He has tallied a 1.10 ERA in 16.1 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.

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).

UCLA Health Sponsor - Event Information
Saturday, Jan 30 - 12:00 PM PST
vs. Alumni Game
Los Angeles, CA
Friday, Feb 19 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. North Carolina
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Feb 20 - 2:00 PM PST
vs. North Carolina
Los Angeles, CA
Sunday, Feb 21 - 1:00 PM PST
vs. North Carolina
Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, Feb 23 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Long Beach State
Los Angeles, CA
Friday, Feb 26 - 6:00 PM PST
at Cal Poly
San Luis Obispo, CA