May 1, 2008
LOS ANGELES - UCLA (23-18, 6-6 Pac-10) opens the second half of its Pac-10 schedule hosting No. 4 Arizona State (35-7, 10-5 Pac-10) for three games this weekend at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins look to continue their ascent in the conference standings, as the Sun Devils enter this weekend's action tied for first place with Stanford. Riding a four-game winning streak, Arizona State owns a two-game lead over third-place Oregon State and a 2.5-game advantage over fourth-place UCLA.
Friday, May 2 - 6 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
ASU - TBA vs. UCLA's Tim Murphy, LHP, Jr. (3-5, 3.49)
Saturday, May 3 - 4 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium (TV - FSN)
ASU - TBA vs. UCLA - TBA
Sunday, May 4 - 1 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
ASU - TBA vs. UCLA's Gavin Brooks, LHP, So. (5-2, 4.45)
WHAT'S AT STAKE
UCLA enters this weekend's action having posted a 6-6 mark in Pac-10 play. The Bruins, who trail Arizona State and Stanford by 2.5 games in the Pac-10 standings, have won five of their last seven games, including two of three games at Washington last weekend. Arizona State can claim sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 race this weekend, as Stanford plays three non-conference games against San Jose State. While the Bruins have lost their last six games at Arizona State, UCLA won two of three games against the Sun Devils at home in 2006 and salvaged the series finale at Jackie Robinson Stadium in 2004.
ON THE TUBE
The Bruins will make their second national television appearance of the season on Saturday. Barry Tompkins and Jerry Kindall will have the call before a national audience on Fox Sports Net. However, the contest will be tape delayed on FSN Prime Ticket in the Los Angeles area (tape delayed, 8:30 p.m., following the Dodgers' game). UCLA will make one more national television appearance this spring, as the Bruins' Saturday contest against Washington State at Jackie Robinson Stadium (May 17) will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Net.
Second baseman Alden Carrithers leads the Bruins with a .384 batting average and has started in all 41 games (31 at second base, 10 in left field). Carrithers has hit safely in 34 of 41 games and has recorded separate hitting streaks of 11 games and 10 games. The Portland, Ore., resident leads the team in numerous offensive categories, including hits (63), runs (34), at-bats (164), RBI (36), total bases (92) and stolen bases (15). Carrithers was recently selected as one of 50 college baseball players to the Dick Howser Award watch list, an annual accolade regarded as college baseball's most prestigious award.
CRUSHING IT FARTHER
First baseman Casey Haerther has caught fire since establishing a Pac-10 and UCLA single-game record with seven hits in a game at Arizona (March 29). Since that evening's 7-for-7 performance in a 20-8 UCLA victory at Kindall Field, the sophomore slugger has batted .409 with six home runs, 12 doubles, 22 RBI and 16 runs (in a span of 21 games). Haerther's team-high 12-game hit streak was snapped in Tuesday's 6-2 loss at Pepperdine. The Bruins' starting first baseman is hitting at a .327 clip, having collected seven home runs, a team-leading 15 doubles, 34 RBI, 31 runs and a team-best .566 slugging percentage.
ACCOLADES ALL AROUND
Several Bruins have garnered attention from around the college baseball world this season. Alden Carrithers has been named as one of 50 players to the Dick Howser Award watch list. Catcher Ryan Babineau was selected as one of 36 of the nation's top collegiate catchers to the Johnny Bench Award watch list prior to Opening Day. Shortstop Brandon Crawford has been tabbed as one of 50 players on the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list, as announced by USA Baseball.
WHAT A RELIEF
UCLA's pitching staff has logged a 3.14 ERA in the last five games, limiting the opposition to a .213 average in that span. Most impressively, the Bruins' bullpen has registered a 2.25 ERA (three earned runs, 12.0 innings) in those games, allowing six hits while notching 13 strikeouts. Through UCLA's last 13 games, left-handers Brendan Lafferty and Matt Drummond have excelled out of the bullpen. In his last eight relief appearances, Lafferty has logged a 2.03 ERA in 13.1 innings, totaling 14 strikeouts and a .205 opponent batting average. Drummond has hurled 9.2 innings, allowing just one unearned run while registering 12 strikeouts.
ON THE WEB
All UCLA home games can be listened to and viewed online at uclabruins.com. Danny Lee and Tim Wilhelm have the call at UCLA's official athletics website. Audio broadcasts of road series at Oregon State (May 9-11) and California (May 23-25) will be carried online. All remaining regular-season games, including this weekend's series against Arizona State, can be followed live on CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Left-hander Tim Murphy makes his 11 start of the season (13th appearance) on Friday evening against Arizona State. The Vista, Calif., resident has tallied a 3-5 record and 3.49 ERA this season, registering a team-high 77 strikeouts in 69.2 innings. Murphy recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts in eight innings against Arizona State last season (May 12), and did not earn a decision in the 5-4 loss at Packard Stadium. Earlier this spring, the left-hander logged a streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings. In UCLA's other nationally-televised contest this season, Murphy hurled a complete game shutout, totaling 10 strikeouts as the Bruins downed Bethune-Cookman, 2-0, in the inaugural Urban Invitational (March 2).
Earlier this spring, UCLA became just the second team in the past two seasons to win a three-game series at Arizona, which currently boasts an 18-3 home mark. The Bruins took the first two of three games at Arizona's Kindall Field (March 28-30) to open Pac-10 play. Last season, the Wildcats posted a 28-4 home record, losing one home series to USC. Last weekend, UCLA won two of three games at Washington's Husky Ballpark, where the Huskies had previously recorded an 18-5 home record with just one home series loss to Cal Poly. The Bruins have logged an 8-8 road record and a 1-0 mark at a neutral site this spring.
FOUR IN A ROW
Left-hander Gavin Brooks has earned the victory in each of his last four starts. Brooks has recorded a 5-2 record and 4.45 ERA in nine starts, collecting 49 strikeouts in 54.2 innings. The Vista, Calif., native has limited the opposition to a .233 average in 2008 and leads all UCLA pitchers with 165.1 career innings pitched. Last spring, Brooks established UCLA freshman single-season records with 98 strikeouts and 110.2 innings pitched. In his last four starts, all on Sunday afternoons, the sophomore southpaw has logged a 2.45 ERA and .194 opponent batting average, totaling 26 strikeouts in 29.1 innings.
UCLA has posted a 3-2 record in five extra-inning ballgames this season. The Bruins did not play any extra-inning contests in 2007. Two of the team's first four games this year were extra-inning affairs. UCLA lost a 12-inning game, 3-2, to Oklahoma in the nightcap of a season-opening doubleheader (Feb. 23). The Bruins outlasted UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings on (Feb. 27) in a five-hour, 35-minute affair. UCLA edged Arizona, 4-3, in 10 innings (March 28) in the Bruins' Pac-10 season opener. UC Irvine downed the Bruins, 6-5, in 10 innings at Jackie Robinson Stadium (April 8). UCLA used a two-out rally, keyed by Brandon Crawford and Mickey Weisser, in the bottom of the 11th inning to defeat UNLV, 8-7 (April 22).
THIRD TO 100
John Savage earned his 100th victory as UCLA's head baseball coach on April 20, as the Bruins defeated Stanford, 8-2. Savage, who has tallied a 104-112 record midway through his fourth season, became just the third head coach in UCLA baseball history to reach the 100-win plateau. Former head coaches Gary Adams (1975-2004) and Arthur Reichle (1941, 1946-1974) have also reached the 100-win mark. Savage, who spent three years as UC Irvine's head baseball coach prior to arriving in Westwood, stands just eight wins shy of his 200th career victory as a college baseball head coach (192-196-1 career record).
The Bruins have posted a 17-2 record when scoring five or more runs. When scoring three runs or fewer, UCLA has gone 1-12. UCLA has scored 10 or more runs in eight games this spring. The Bruins scored a season-high 22 runs against Cal State Northridge (Feb. 26) and cranked out a season-best 26 hits versus UC Riverside (April 12) earlier this season. Both of those totals are the most since May 25, 1997, when UCLA totaled 31 hits in a 22-2 NCAA Regional victory against Oklahoma State.
Junior Ryan Babineau was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list, as announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission, prior to the start of the season. The award is given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher. In 145 career games (140 starts), Babineau has committed two errors in 1,154 chances (.998 pct.), throwing out 40 of 95 attempted base stealers (42.1 pct). This season, opponents have attemped to steal off Babineau just 13 times (five successfully). As a freshman, he earned All-Pac-10 team honors. Last spring, Babineau was named an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection.
WELCOME BACK, BUCK
The UCLA baseball program plans to honor former Bruin ballplayer Lynn "Buck" Compton prior to Friday evening's game against Arizona State. Compton, a former UCLA teammate of Jackie Robinson, was a star athlete at UCLA, where he served as a catcher on the baseball team and competed on the football team. Compton joined the U.S. Army in 1943, and during World War II, he was awarded a Silver Star while serving as a Second Lieutenant commanding the second platoon of East Company in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division. Compton's service in World War II has been chronicled in the book Band of Brothers, written by Stephen Ambrose - the book was made into a miniseries on HBO, in which Neal McDonough portrayed Compton. Upon returning home, Compton chose a career in law and joined the Los Angeles District Attorney's office in 1951 as a deputy district attorney. During his time with the D.A.'s office, Compton successfully prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy. In 1970, Governor Ronald Reagan appointed Compton as an Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal.
STEELE FIELD AT JACKIE ROBINSON STADIUM
The UCLA baseball program will dedicate the field at Jackie Robinson Stadium in honor of the Steele Foundation on Saturday afternoon. Last offseason, UCLA completed several improvements to Jackie Robinson Stadium, the most significant renovation being the installation of a new major-league caliber playing surface. Thanks to a generous lead gift from the Steele Foundation, UCLA's new field surface became a reality. In recognition of the Steele Foundation's generosity, UCLA will dedicate Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Dr. Andy Cracchiolo, a Steele Foundation board member and professor of surgery/orthopedics at the UCLA School of Medicine, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Saturday's ballgame.
PROJECTIONS AND PREDICTIONS
Baseball America tabbed UCLA as its preseason favorite to win the Pac-10. The national baseball publication predicted 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 were named preseason All-Pac-10 selections by Baseball America. The publication listed Rob Rasmussen as one of the five top newcomers and pegged Crawford and left-hander Tim Murphy as the second- and sixth-best pro prospects in this year's draft class. Baseball America listed Jermaine Curtis as the conference's best defensive third baseman and Brandon Crawford as the Pac-10's best defensive shortstop.
THE POLL IN THE PAC
UCLA was selected third out of nine teams in the Pac-10 preseason coaches' poll. The Bruins were picked to finish behind Arizona and Arizona State, respectively. Arizona picked up six of nine first-place votes, and Arizona State recorded the other three first-place votes. Last season, UCLA was picked fourth in the preseason coaches' poll and finished third with a 14-10 mark in Pac-10 ballgames.
Freshman left-hander Rob Rasmussen returned to action Wednesday against Loyola Marymount after having missed 36 games with a fractured left foot. Rasmussen sustained the injury on a line drive during his collegiate debut against UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27). Sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Justin Uribe will miss the remainder of the season with a left elbow injury (torn UCL). Freshman right-hander Dan Klein remains inactive with shoulder soreness. Freshman outfielder Jeff Rapoport (shoulder) missed the 2007 season with a shoulder injury and remains sidelined, along with freshman right-hander Erik Goeddel (elbow) and junior right-hander Tim Schlatter (shoulder).