May 18, 2009
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA baseball team enters the final week of the regular season, playing at No. 1 UC Irvine (40-12) on Tuesday evening. Game time at Anteater Ballpark is slated for 6 p.m. The Bruins (26-26) will send right-hander Garett Claypool to the hill for Tuesday's non-conference tilt.
SERIES VS. UC IRVINE: UCLA leads, 42-24-1
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: UCLA, one win
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, May 19 (6 p.m.)
UCLA - Garett Claypool, RHP, Jr. (2-1, 3.24)
UC Irvine - Brock Bardeen, RHP, Sr. (5-0, 4.76)
- UCLA has four games (all road contests) remaining on its regular-season schedule this week.
- The Bruins have gone 14-10 in Pac-10 play and currently reside in third place in the conference standings.
- UCLA has won 13 of its last 20 games, including three wins against top-20 ranked competition.
- UCLA has played the most challenging schedule in the nation with four games left against top-3 teams.
- Freshman right-hander Trevor Bauer leads UCLA with eight wins and three complete games in 96.1 innings.
- UCLA's pitching staff leads the conference in strikeouts (482) and ranks fourth in team ERA (4.27).
- Senior first baseman Cody Decker has logged team-highs with 19 homers, 49 RBI and 51 runs in 52 games.
- Juniors Casey Haerther (9 HR, 40 RBI) and Blair Dunlap (6 HR, 17 2B, 36 RBI) have bolstered the offense.
Cox3 Sports will televise Tuesday's game between UCLA and UC Irvine as its "Game of the Week". Check local listings or log onto www.cox.com/ocpv/COX3 for air times.
MATCHUP AT A GLANCE
UCLA enters the final week of the regular season having gone 13-7 through its last 20 games. The Bruins currently rank fourth in the Pac-10 Conference in team batting average (.289) and team ERA (4.27). Since opening the season 2-10, UCLA has rebounded with a 24-16 record in its last 40 contests. UC Irvine enters Tuesday night's game having won 10 of its last 11 games. UC Irvine ranks second in the Big West Conference in team batting average (.319) and third in team ERA (4.34).
VERSUS THE ANTEATERS
UCLA and UC Irvine have split their two previous games this season. The Anteaters earned a 7-4 victory in both teams' final game of the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park (home of the Houston Astros) on Sunday, March 1. Casey Haerther went 4-for-5 and Gino Aielli was 3-for-3 with two doubles in that loss. Cody Decker helped lead UCLA past UC Irvine, 8-3, at Jackie Robinson Stadium on April 7, belting a two-run homer in a 2-for-5 effort. Garett Claypool recorded five strikeouts in three innings as the Bruins' starter that night.
ON THE HILL
Junior right-hander Garett Claypool has gone 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 33.1 innings this spring. The resident of West Hills, Calif., has pitched in 13 games for UCLA in 2009, making seven starts. Overall, Claypool has collected 45 strikeouts and 10 walks, limiting the opposition to a .238 average. In his seven starts, UCLA has gone 6-1. As a starter, Claypool has posted a 3.45 ERA in 28.2 innings, logging 41 strikeouts and seven walks. Senior right-hander Brock Bardeen will take the mound for the Anteaters (5-0, 4.76 in 20 games, one start).
UCLA is playing the most challenging schedule in the nation, as projected by Boyd's World (national strength of schedule ranking service). After opening the season with a three-game home series, the Bruins spent four consecutive weekends on the road - in the Houston College Classic (Feb. 27-March 1), at Oklahoma (March 6-8), at East Carolina (March 13-14) and at USC (March 21-23). UCLA has played six weekend trips away from southern California. The Bruins began 2009 by playing 22 of their first 33 games away from home. UCLA's final four games will be played on the road at top-3 ranked competition (Baseball America poll).
A LOOK AT THE PACK
UCLA opens the final week of regular-season play in third place in the Pac-10. At 14-10, the Bruins currently trail conference leader Arizona State (19-5) by five games. Washington State (16-8) stands in second place, and Washington (13-11) and Oregon State (13-11) share fourth place (Washington wins tiebreak, head-to-head series). Stanford (12-12) occupies sixth place while USC has moved into seventh place (11-13). Arizona (10-14), California (8-16) and Oregon (4-20) round out the conference's 10 teams.
UCLA's pitchers have recorded 482 strikeouts in 459.0 innings, the highest strikeout total in the Pac-10 through Monday's action. The Bruins have recorded more strikeouts than any UCLA team since 2000, when the staff registered 531 strikeouts in 64 games (highest single-season strikeout total on record at UCLA). The Bruins' pitching staff has collected 10 or more strikeouts in 24 games this spring, including in six of the last eight contests. Freshmen right-handers Gerrit Cole (95) and Trevor Bauer (87) lead UCLA in that category.
Freshman right-hander Trevor Bauer leads UCLA with eight wins (8-3 record) and a 2.90 ERA in a team-high 96.1 innings. Bauer began the season in the bullpen before moving into a midweek starting role. After shutting down San Diego State (March 11) and Pepperdine (March 25) in midweek starts, Bauer has excelled in the weekend rotation. In nine starts, Bauer has gone 6-0 with a 3.06 ERA, collecting 62 strikeouts in 70.2 innings. In Pac-10 action, Bauer leads UCLA with a 6-0 record, totaling 49 strikeouts and nine walks in 57.1 innings.
Over the last 12 games, UCLA has posted a .313 batting average while the pitching staff has limited the opposition to a mere .232 clip. UCLA has outscored its opponents in that span by an 88-52 margin. On the mound, the Bruins' staff has posted a 3.36 ERA in 107.0 innings, while the opposition has compiled a 6.75 ERA. Garett Claypool has gone 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his last three starts. Gino Aielli has batted .475 in that span, while Cody Decker (.385), Justin Uribe (.379) and Blair Dunlap (.356) have all hit above .350.
Senior first baseman Cody Decker has tallied a team-leading 19 home runs and 49 RBI. Hitting at a .328 clip, Decker also leads UCLA with a .689 slugging percentage, 51 runs and 36 walks and is second with 60 hits. With his home run on Sunday against Cal State Fullerton, Decker has become the first Bruin to belt 19 or more homers in one season since three players accomplished the feat in 2000 (Forrest Johnson, 23; Chase Utley 22; Bill Scott 21). He has hit safely in UCLA's last 11 games and has reached base via a hit or walk in the last 20 contests. Decker leads the Bruins with career totals of 45 home runs, 149 RBI and 174 hits.
Junior Blair Dunlap has started 51 games in center field for UCLA this spring. Headed into the Bruins' final four regular-season contests, Dunlap has registered a .298 batting average. He leads the team with 62 hits, 17 doubles and 14 stolen bases. Dunlap ranks second on the team with 103 total bases and 42 runs and is third on the club with 36 RBI. He has cranked five of his six home runs this season in Pac-10 play. Through the team's last eight games, Dunlap is batting at a .393 clip, going 11-for-28 with two triples and two doubles.
Senior Gino Aielli has played a major role in UCLA's success this spring and currently leads the team with a .378 batting average (45-for-119). Aielli, who has split time between third base, catcher and designated hitter, has collected five three-hit games and one five-hit effort. A former two-year standout at Saddleback Junior College (2006-07), Aielli played in just six games last spring for UCLA before making the most of his playing time in 2009. He has hit at a .515 clip (17-for-33) with 11 runs in the Bruins' last eight games.
CASEY AT THE BAT
Junior infielder Casey Haerther has compiled a .312 average and .484 slugging percentage in 48 games. Haerther ranks second on the ballclub with nine home runs and 40 RBI. The resident of Chatsworth, Calif., logged a career-high five RBI in a 2-for-4 effort against Long Beach State on April 28. Haerther's most impressive performance of the season came in a 17-2 victory at USC on March 23, when the Bruins' infielder went 4-for-4 with three runs and three RBI at Dedeaux Field.
A fixture in UCLA's rotation since the first weekend of the 2009 season, freshman right-hander Gerrit Cole has logged a 4-6 record and 3.34 ERA, third-lowest on the team. Cole leads UCLA with 95 strikeouts, tied for the third-highest total among Pac-10 pitchers. Cole's .197 opponent batting average ranks third-lowest in the conference. Cole ranks eighth among Pac-10 pitchers with 78.2 innings. His most dominant outings came at East Carolina (March 13, 5.0 IP, 12 K) and in a one-hit effort versus Washington (8.0 IP, 13 K, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 H).
Senior first baseman Cody Decker ranks eighth on UCLA's career home runs list with 45 (trails Ryan McGuire, 47). Senior left-hander Brendan Lafferty has moved into third place on the career pitching appearances list (93), trailing Chuck Yeager (111) and Bill Wenrick (119). Senior right-hander Jason Novak is tied for sixth on the same list, having pitched in 85 career games. Junior left-hander Gavin Brooks is tied with four other players for 10th place on the career saves list (8), and is tied for fifth on the single-season saves list (8).
CELEBRATING THE SENIORS
UCLA honored seven players on "Senior Day" on Sunday, May 17, as the Bruins hosted their final regular-season home game. The Bruins' seniors stepped up, helping UCLA secure a 7-0 lead through two innings. Gino Aielli went 3-for-4 with three runs, and Dustin Quist (redshirt junior) was 3-for-4 with an RBI-double. Cody Decker belted his team-leading 19th home run, going 3-for-4 with four RBI and Blair Dunlap (redshirt junior) went 3-for-5 with one pair of runs. On the mound, seniors Brendan Lafferty and Jason Novak each held Cal State Fullerton scoreless, as the duo combined for three strikeouts in 2.1 innings of relief.
IN HONOR OF JACK
A circular black patch with the initials "JG" adorn the left sleeve of UCLA's uniforms, in honor of the late Jack Gifford. Among the program's most loyal and passionate supporters, Gifford played for UCLA 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 stands 23-feet high and spans 10,500-square feet.
HUFF PROMOTED TO MAJORS
Former UCLA pitcher David Huff was promoted to the Cleveland Indians' 25-man roster last weekend. Huff made his major league debut as Cleveland's starting pitcher on Sunday, May 17. He was tagged with the loss, surrendering seven runs and seven hits in 3.2 innings. Huff led the Bruins' to the NCAA Malibu Regional in 2006, going 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA that spring. Six other Bruins are currently on major league rosters, including Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Eric Byrnes (Arizona), Ben Francisco (Cleveland), Casey Janssen (Toronto) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia). Former UCLA standout Troy Glaus (St. Louis) is currently on the 15-day disabled list.
MINOR LEAGUE UPDATE
Three former UCLA pitchers are pitching in the minors at the triple-A level - Hector Ambriz (Reno Aces, Arizona), Dave Johnson (Memphis Sounds, Milwaukee), and Josh Roenicke (Louisville Bats, Cincinnati). Ambriz and Roenicke starred on the mound at UCLA as recently as 2006 under head coach John Savage. Former UCLA shortstop Brandon Crawford (2006-08) has been promoted from San Jose (high-A) to Connecticut (double-A, San Francisco Giants), where he has batted .273 through his first eight games.