April 20, 2009
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA baseball team plays UC Riverside on Tuesday at Riverside Sports Complex (6 p.m.). The Bruins (17-19) look to even the two-game season series against the Highlanders (20-13). Last week, UCLA won at No. 15 San Diego State before sweeping a three-game Pac-10 series against Washington.
SERIES VS. UC RIVERSIDE: UCLA leads, 19-10
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: UC Riverside, one win
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, April 21 - 6 p.m. (at UC Riverside)
UCLA - Garett Claypool, RHP, Jr. (0-0, 3.00)
UC Riverside - Ryan Platt, RHP, Sr. (2-0, 4.97)
- UCLA has won seven of its last nine games, including each of its last four contests.
- The Bruins have been led at the plate by senior Cody Decker's team-best 12 home runs and 32 RBI.
- An offensive catalyst, senior Eddie Murray ranks third in the Pac-10 with a .491 on-base percentage.
- Freshmen right-handers Gerrit Cole (71 strikeouts) and Trevor Bauer (61.1 innings) lead UCLA's staff.
- The Bruins will play 11 of their next 16 contests at home before closing the season with four road games.
TALE OF THE TAPE
UCLA enters Tuesday's game at UC Riverside looking to extend its win streak to a season-high five games. The Bruins have gone 15-9 since opening their 2009 campaign with a 2-10 mark. Through Sunday's action, UCLA ranks fifth among all Pac-10 teams in batting average (.279) and fourth in team ERA (4.29). UCLA's pitchers have logged a collective 343 strikeouts, the second-highest total in the Pac-10 behind Arizona State (348). UC Riverside ranks seventh of nine Big West teams in batting average (.272) and second in team ERA (4.24).
Right-hander Trevor Bauer has earned Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week honors and has been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week, as announced on Monday. The freshman from Valencia, Calif., threw a one-hit complete game shutout against Washington on Saturday, leading the Bruins to a 13-0 victory at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Bauer, who notched a career-high nine strikeouts, became the first Bruin to hurl a one-hitter since April 13, 1998 (Tony Righetti vs. Hawaii-Hilo). Bauer has twice been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week this season, becoming the first multiple-week selection at UCLA since Tyson Brummett in 2007.
COLE K'S 13
Right-hander Gerrit Cole registered a career-high 13 strikeouts in UCLA's 4-2 series-opening victory against Washington on Friday evening. The former first-round draft selection limited the Huskies to one hit and two runs (both unearned) in a career-high eight innings to earn his third win of the spring. Through Sunday's games, Cole is tied for third in the Pac-10 Conference with 71 strikeouts (with Washington State's Matt Way) and ranks sixth among all Pac-10 pitchers with a .195 opponent batting average. Overall, Cole has compiled a 3.51 ERA, surrendering just 20 earned runs and 36 hits in 51.1 innings (nine starts).
THROW AND CATCH
The Bruins earned four wins in four games last week, largely in part to the team's steady pitching and defense. On the field, UCLA committed just one error to finish the week with a .993 fielding percentage. On the mound, the Bruins' combined to post a 1.25 ERA and .165 opponent batting average, tallying 44 strikeouts and eight walks. In a three-game sweep of Washington, UCLA logged a 0.67 ERA and miniscule .148 opponent batting average in 27.0 innings. The Bruins allowed five runs (two earned) in three games against Washington.
Senior first baseman Cody Decker leads UCLA's offense with 12 home runs and 32 RBI through the season's first 36 games. Through Sunday's games, Decker's 12-home run total is tied for second place in the Pac-10 Conference with Arizona State's Carlos Ramirez (trails Washington's Kyle Conley, 13 home runs). In UCLA's 8-5 win at Stanford on Friday, April 10, he blasted a pair of two-run homers at Sunken Diamond. Decker has vaulted into a tie for 10th place on UCLA's career home runs list (38 homers, tied with Jim Auten). Additionally, the four-year senior has become UCLA's first player to hit at least six home runs in each of four seasons since current Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes belted 48 home runs from 1995-98.
Senior second baseman Eddie Murray has thrived at the top of UCLA's lineup. Murray ranks third on the team with a .328 batting average and is third in the Pac-10 Conference (through Sunday's games) with a .491 on-base percentage. Additionally, Murray leads UCLA with 33 runs, 27 walks and 12 hit-by-pitches, having started at second base in 35 games. Murray primarily served as a backup infielder his first three seasons at UCLA before earning the starting second baseman role at the start of the 2009 campaign.
UCLA's began its season playing 22 of its first 33 games away from home. The Bruins have played among the nation's most travel-intensive slates. After opening the spring hosting UC Davis (Feb. 20-22), UCLA spent three consecutive weekends away from the West - at the Houston College Classic (Feb. 28-March 1), at Oklahoma (March 6-8) and at East Carolina (March 13-14) - before returning to Los Angeles to open Pac-10 Conference play at USC. UCLA has just two weekend road trips remaining on its regular-season slate - at Oregon (May 1-3) and at Arizona State (May 22-24) - in addition to three non-conference games in southern California.
ON THE TUBE
The Bruins' series-opening contest Friday against Oregon State will be televised by Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket on a tape delay basis. The game will air Saturday, April 25 at 12 p.m.
Next week, UCLA hosts Long Beach State on Tuesday before returning to the road for a three-game Pac-10 series at Oregon. UCLA has not played at Oregon since 1969. This season, Oregon resumed its baseball program at the NCAA Division I level after having dropped the sport following the 1981 season. UCLA's games at Oregon will take place on Friday, May 1 (3 p.m.), Saturday, May 2 (11 a.m.) and Sunday, May 3 (1 p.m.).
Junior Blair Dunlap has logged a .272 batting average as the Bruins' starting center fielder. Dunlap leads UCLA with 12 doubles in 36 games and ranks third on the Bruins' ballclub with five homers. Dunlap belted a grand slam homer in UCLA's 13-0 victory on Saturday before blasting a three-run line drive homer in the team's 6-3 win on Sunday. The native of Mission Viejo, Calif., leads UCLA with 11 stolen bases in 15 attempts. Dunlap earned All-Regional Team honors at Pepperdine in 2006 and at Cal State Fullerton in 2008.
CLOSING THE DOOR
Junior left-hander Gavin Brooks has notched a team-high five saves this season, the most in a single season by a UCLA pitcher since Brant Rustich netted six saves in 2007. Brooks has compiled a 1.99 ERA since assuming UCLA's role as closer (last 25 games). In that span, the left-hander from Vista, Calif., has notched 26 strikeouts and 12 walks in 22.2 innings, limiting the opposition to a .171 batting average. In three appearances last week (two saves), Brooks allowed two hits in 3.1 innings, recording three strikeouts.
GOT `EM SWINGING
Through Sunday's action, UCLA's pitching staff ranks second in the Pac-10 with 343 strikeouts. Arizona State leads the pack with 348 and California follows with 316. UCLA is currently averaging 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings, the second-best average in the conference. The Bruins have recorded 10 or more strikeouts in 17 games. UCLA totaled a season-best 17 strikeouts in an 8-6 victory in the second game of a three-game series at East Carolina (March 13). In that contest, freshmen right-handers Gerrit Cole (12) and Trevor Bauer (5) combined for the 17 punchouts. UCLA ranks third in the Pac-10 with 144 strikeouts in conference games.
Junior right-hander Charles Brewer has made nine starts this spring and has limited the opposition to three earned runs or fewer in each of his outings. Last Sunday in the series finale against Washington (April 19), Brewer limited the visiting Huskies to two runs (one earned) and seven hits in 6.1 innings, recording a season-high eight strikeouts for the second time this year. Brewer has compiled a 1-4 record and 3.86 ERA in 49.0 innings, the third-highest total on the team. Hailing from Paradise Valley, Ariz., Brewer has logged 51 strikeouts and just 14 walks. In Pac-10 action, he has registered a 1-2 record and 3.49 ERA in 28.1 innings.
Senior left-hander Brendan Lafferty has climbed up UCLA's career pitching appearances list. The reliever from Riverside, Calif., is currently tied with Mike Kunes (2000-03) for third-place in career appearances, having pitched in 88 games. Bill Wenrick (1984-87) leads the way with 119 games and is followed by Chuck Yaeger (1981-84), who appeared on the hill in 111 contests. Senior right-hander Jason Novak has moved into eighth place on the career appearances list, having pitched in 79 games at UCLA. Senior first baseman Cody Decker's 38 career home runs have pushed him into a tie for 10th place on that list with Jim Auten (1976-79).
UCLA's 17-2 win at USC on Monday, March 23, proved to be a milestone victory in the crosstown rivalry's all-time series. The Bruins set a UCLA program record for margin of victory against the Trojans in the historic, 82-year history of the baseball rivalry. UCLA's previous high for margin of victory against USC was 14 runs, established in an 18-4 victory on May 17, 1955. That win also handed UCLA its ninth win over USC in the teams' last 12 meetings. Additionally, UCLA has won three of the last four season series against USC and has not dropped a season series to its crosstown rival since being swept in 2005 (tied, 2-2, in 2008).
MAJOR LEAGUE BRUINS
Four Bruins opened the 2009 season on major league rosters, and two former UCLA ballplayers began the year on the 15-day disabled list. Among those playing in the big-league ranks this spring include Garrett Atkins (Colorado Rockies), Eric Byrnes (Arizona Diamondbacks), Ben Francisco (Cleveland Indians) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia Phillies). Former UCLA standouts Troy Glaus (St. Louis Cardinals) and Casey Janssen (Toronto Blue Jays) have opened the 2009 campaign on the 15-day disabled list. UCLA also has two former players pitching at the triple-A minor league level - David Huff (Columbus Clippers, Cleveland affiliate) and Josh Roenicke (Louisville Bats, Cincinnati affiliate), who both starred at UCLA as recently as 2006.
IN HONOR OF JACK
A circular black patch with the initials "JG" adorn the left sleeve of UCLA's uniforms in 2009, in honor of the late Jack Gifford. Among the UCLA baseball program's most loyal and passionate supporters, Gifford played for the Bruins alongside former head coach Gary Adams in the early 1960s. Gifford, who passed away on Jan. 11, 2009, and his wife Rhodine generously funded the construction of UCLA's state-of-the-art hitting facility. Named in their honor - the Jack and Rhodine Gifford Hitting Facility - the practice complex stands 23-feet high behind the right field fence and spans 10,500-square feet.