Feb. 28, 2008
LOS ANGELES - The No. 3 UCLA baseball team will compete in the inaugural Urban Invitational this weekend, hosting Southern on Friday evening at 6 p.m.. The Bruins face Bethune-Cookman on Saturday at the MLB Urban Youth Academy (Compton, Calif.) at 5 p.m. That game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. UCLA will play a non-conference game at USC on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Last week, the Bruins defeated UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings on Wednesday, Feb. 27. UCLA's game at Cal State Northridge on Tuesday was suspended in the middle of the eighth inning due to darkness. The Bruins led, 22-2, and will resume play of that contest prior to the two teams' previously-scheduled game on Tuesday, April 15 at UCLA. The statistics and records from that game are not made official until the game concludes on April 15.
Friday, Feb. 29 - 6 p.m. - UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
Southern's Christopher Donaby, LHP, RS Sr. (first appearance) vs. UCLA's Charles Brewer, RHP, So., (0-0, 13.50 ERA)
Saturday, March 1 - 5 p.m. - at MLB Urban Youth Academy - TV: ESPN2
UCLA's Tim Murphy, LHP, Jr. (0-0, 1.12 ERA) vs. Bethune-Cookman's Joseph "Gio" Gauthier, LHP, Jr. (0-0, 1.29 ERA)
Sunday, March 2 - 2 p.m. - at USC's Dedeaux Field
UCLA TBD vs. USC's Brad Boxberger, RHP, So. (1-0, 6.00 ERA)
THE SEASON THUS FAR
UCLA has totaled a 2-1 record in the season's first full week. The Bruins' season opener last Friday was postponed, due to rain. UCLA split a doubleheader against Oklahoma on Saturday, Feb. 23, winning the first game with a walk-off home run and dropping game two in 12 innings. Sunday's series finale was rained out. UCLA's contest at Cal State Northridge on Tuesday was suspended due to darkness, and the Bruins rebounded with a 5-4, 13-inning win Wednesday against UC Santa Barbara. UCLA has yet to play a regular, full nine-inning contest, as the season-opener ended with the game-winning homer.
Two of the Bruins' three regular-season contests have extended into extra innings. UCLA played a 12-inning game (L, 3-2) against Oklahoma in the nightcap of a doubleheader on Saturday. The Bruins outlasted UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings on Wednesday - that contest lasted five hours and 35 minutes. Last season, UCLA did not play any extra frames. In the Bruins' two extra inning ballgames this month, UCLA's bullpen has 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.
WORTH THE WAIT
Sophomore right-hander Charles Brewer will make his first collegiate start Friday evening against Southern. The 2006 Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year missed nearly his entire freshman season with mononucleosis. Last season, Brewer was limited to four relief appearances, recording a 5.40 ERA and 0-1 record. The Paradise Valley, Ariz., native made his first appearance of the 2008 season in game one against Oklahoma, allowing four runs and five hits in 2.2 innings of relief. Brewer was slated to pitch as the starter in last Sunday's series finale before weather forecasts predicted strong rain early Sunday morning (leading to a rainout).
Junior left-hander Tim Murphy will make his second start of the season (third appearance) Saturday evening against Bethune-Cookman. Murphy has registered a 1.12 ERA in 8.0 innings this season. The Vista, Calif., resident limited Oklahoma to two runs (one earned) and five hits in 6.0 innings on Saturday, Feb. 23 (game two). Wednesday evening, Murphy did not allow a hit in two scoreless innings of relief against UC Santa Barbara. As a freshman in 2006, Murphy served as one of UCLA's three regular outfielders. Last spring, he made his debut on the mound as he split time between center field and the pitching rotation.
ABOUT THE URBAN INVITATIONAL
UCLA has never played against either Southern or Bethune-Cookman, the first two teams which the Bruins will face in this weekend's inaugural Urban Invitational. The round-robin style tournament, hosted by the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., will feature two of its games on television (ESPN2) Saturday evening. UCLA faces Bethune-Cookman at 5 p.m. and USC will play Southern at 8 p.m. The Bruins renew their rivalry with USC in a non-conference showdown at Dedeaux Field on Sunday at 2 p.m. The participation of historically black universities Bethune-Cookman (Daytona Beach, Fla.) and Southern (Baton Rouge, La.) in the tournament is part of MLB's ongoing diversity and youth initiatives. Admission to games at the Urban Youth Academy costs $5 for adults and is free for children under 12 years old. Proceeds from the ticket sale will benefit the Urban Youth Academy, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. Located at 901 East Artesia Blvd. in Compton, Calif. (90221), the Urban Youth Academy encompasses more than 15 acres on the campus of El Camino College, Compton Center.
ON THE TUBE
Including Saturday's evening matchup against Bethune-Cookman at MLB's Urban Youth Academy, three UCLA baseball games are scheduled to be broadcast on television this season. ESPN's Gary Thorne and Brian Jordan will have the call from Compton, Calif., on Saturday at 5 p.m. PT (ESPN2). UCLA will be aired on FSN Prime Ticket in May, when Arizona State and Washington State head to Los Angeles. The Bruins and Sun Devils' game on Saturday, May 2, will be aired live outside of the Los Angeles area - the game will air at 8 p.m. that evening in the L.A. area, following the 5 p.m. Dodgers-Rockies game. UCLA and Washington State's Saturday contest (May 17) will be broadcast live from Jackie Robinson Stadium on FSN Prime Ticket.
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) and Oregon State (May 9-11) will be carried live online. Nearly all of the Bruins' regular-season ballgames can be followed live online through CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com.
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.
After having gone 257 days since their last game, the Bruins returned to action Saturday, Feb. 23, and got their fill of baseball - UCLA and Oklahoma played two games totaling 21 innings. In a day that featured not only a doubleheader and a rain delay, but also a walkoff home run and extra innings, UCLA finally got its 2008 season underway. The Bruins downed the visiting Sooners in game one, 7-5, as right fielder Gabe Cohen drilled a two-run walkoff homer, setting off a celebration at home plate. That evening, both teams' bullpens clamped down, sending the contest into the 12th inning. Oklahoma edged UCLA, 3-2, in the nightcap.
CRUSHED BY COHEN
Sophomore right fielder Gabe Cohen quickly became the hero of Saturday's season opener, depositing the first pitch he saw from Oklahoma closer Jake McCarter over the fence in left field. Cohen's two-run home run scored shortstop Brandon Crawford, who reached first base via a walk. The 2007 Pac-10 Co-Newcomer of the Year, Cohen finished second on the team with 10 home runs last spring. The walkoff blast marked the first such home run by a Bruin since Tim Stewart delivered a solo shot to send UCLA past Stanford, 8-7, on May 21, 2006, the Bruins' final regular-season home game that spring.
THE ARMS RACE
UCLA's pitching staff has posted a 2.91 ERA in 34.0 innings (three games). The Bruins limited Oklahoma to a .227 batting average through both games, allowing just 17 hits (four extra-base hits). UCLA allowed four runs and 11 hits in 13 innings against UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday evening. Freshman right-hander Dan Klein has appeared in each of the three games - he earned both decisions in UCLA's season-opening doubleheader against Oklahoma. Sophomore left-hander Justin Uribe recorded his first career victory in UCLA's 13-inning win against UC Santa Barbara, striking out two in one inning of relief.
THROW SOME K'S
In addition to standout pitching from the Bruins' bullpen, UCLA's pitchers have recorded 36 strikeouts in 34 innings. In a 13-inning win against UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday, Feb. 27, UCLA's staff combined to strikeout 18 hitters, the highest total by a Bruin ballclub since March 25, 2000. In a 2-1 loss to Washington that day, UCLA registered 18 strikeouts at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Right-hander Dan Klein leads the staff with eight strikeouts; left-handers Tim Murphy and Brendan Lafferty have each notched seven strikeouts.
'08 BRUINS RETURN INTACT
Seven of UCLA's eight All-Pac-10 selections from 2007, including three honorable mention awardees, return to the ballclub in 2008. In all, the Bruins return 22 letterwinners - seven starting position players are back in the lineup, and two weekend starting pitchers return to the mound. UCLA's infield welcomes back each starter from its 2007 campaign - Jermaine Curtis (3B, Jr.), Brandon Crawford (SS, Jr.), Alden Carrithers (2B, Sr.), Cody Decker (1B, Jr.) and Ryan Babineau (C, Jr.). Left-handers Gavin Brooks (So.) and Tim Murphy (Jr.) return to the rotation after having served as the back two weekend starters in 2007.
BACK TO WORK
Entering his fourth season at the helm of the program, head coach John Savage has the Bruin baseball program headed in the right direction. UCLA finished its 2007 season with its first trip to the NCAA Super Regionals since 2000. The Bruins dropped both games to Cal State Fullerton, by scores of 12-2 and 2-1. UCLA advanced to the Super Regionals after winning the Long Beach Regional, recording wins over No. 3-seed Pepperdine (7-3), No. 4-seed Illinois-Chicago (3-1) and No. 1-seed Long Beach State (7-4) at Blair 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).
BABINEAU THE BACKSTOP
Junior Ryan Babineau has caught more games than any Pac-10 catcher (120), making 118 starts behind the plate. Babineau, who has served as UCLA's primary catcher since stepping on campus in the fall of 2005, has committed just two errors in 969 chances (.998 fielding percentage). Babineau has thrown out 33 of 83 attempted base stealers (39.8 percent). This season, Babineau has thrown out the one athlete who attempted to steal a base. At the plate, the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., resident has registered a career .268 batting average with 11 home runs, 62 RBI and 60 runs.
Senior Alden Carrithers returns to second base in 2008 after having led the Bruins with a .352 average last spring, his first season in Westwood. Carrithers started at second base in all 61 contests for UCLA and also led the club with a .445 on-base percentage. The Portland, Ore., native scored a team-high 53 runs, the most by a Bruin in one season since current Philadelphia Phillies standout Chase Utley scored 81 runs in 2000. In two seasons at UC Santa Barbara, Carrithers hit .317 and posted a .443 on-base percentage in 97 games (91 starts).
Junior Cody Decker flexed his muscles in 2007, totaling 14 home runs in 54 games. The Santa Monica, Calif., native hit two home runs in two games (March 30, at Stanford; May 6, vs. California) and handed UCLA a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Pepperdine in the Bruins' NCAA Regional opener. Decker became the first Bruin to eclipse the 10 home run plateau since Ryan McCarthy totaled 15 home runs in 2004. In 2002, Wes Whisler and Adam Berry each hit 18 home runs for UCLA. In his first two seasons at UCLA, Decker totaled 19 home runs, 70 RBI, 148 total bases and a .580 slugging percentage.
CLOSIN' THE DEAL
Junior right-hander Jason Novak enters the spring as a top candidate to assume the closer role. Novak made 24 relief appearances after having made four starts and 19 relief appearances his freshman season. Last spring, Novak limited opponents to a .256 average, recording a 4.83 ERA and a perfect 3-0 record in 41.0 innings. Novak allowed just 10 extra base hits (two home runs) against 186 batters faced.
CAN'T TOUCH THIS
Sophomore right-hander Garett Claypool tallied a 3.54 ERA in 24 appearances (seven starts) as a freshman last spring. He recorded a 1.82 ERA as a starter, registering 20 strikeouts in 29.2 innings through seven starts. Claypool posted a 3-0 record as a starting pitcher, earning two victories against Pepperdine and one at UC Irvine. He earned freshman All-American honors at season's end from Rivals.com and Ping!Baseball.
TWO DOLLAR TUESDAYS
All season long, tickets to Tuesday evening games at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium will cost just two dollars. The promotion begins at UCLA's first home Tuesday night contest, on March 11 against Pepperdine. Following that game, the Bruins will host San Diego State (April 1), UC Irvine (April 8), Cal State Northridge (April 15), UNLV (April 22) and San Diego (May 6) on Tuesday evenings at the ballpark.
Freshman left-hander Rob Rasmussen will miss the next 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). Sophomore left-hander Gavin Brooks will miss his scheduled start this weekend as he continues to nurse a blister on his throwing hand. 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 (arm) and junior right-hander Tim Schlatter (arm) will not be available to pitch this weekend.
ON THE HORIZON
Head coach John Savage announced on Nov. 14, 2007, that seven student-athletes had signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period to attend UCLA and play baseball. These student-athletes will arrive on campus and enroll in the fall of 2008. Headed by assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Brian Green, the fourth recruiting class under Savage includes six position players and one pitcher. This group features three AFLAC All-Americans - infielders Chris Amezquita and Clark Murphy and right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole. All seven signees have earned all-league honors in high school and were Milwaukee Brewers Area Code Games selections.