March 24, 2009
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA baseball team plays at No. 17 Pepperdine in a non-conference game Wednesday afternoon (3 p.m.). Playing their 14th game away from home, the Bruins will send freshman right-hander Trevor Bauer to the hill at Eddy D. Field Stadium. Pepperdine edged UCLA, 5-4, at Jackie Robinson Stadium on March 3. Wednesday's game against the Waves marks UCLA's final regular-season meeting against Pepperdine. UCLA and Pepperdine split two midweek games in 2008.
SERIES VS. PEPPERDINE: UCLA leads, 51-37-4
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: Pepperdine, two wins
The Bruins return to Jackie Robinson Stadium to open a three-game Pac-10 series against Arizona on Friday. UCLA looks to improve upon its 2-1 Pac-10 record after having won two of three games at crosstown rival USC last weekend. The Bruins will send freshman right-hander Gerrit Cole to the hill for the series opener. Last spring, UCLA captured two of three games in its Pac-10 opening series at Arizona's Jerry Kindall Field.
SERIES VS. ARIZONA: UCLA leads, 111-108-2
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: Arizona, one win
Wednesday, March 25, 3 p.m. (at Pepperdine)
UCLA - Trevor Bauer, RHP, Fr. (1-3, 2.42)
Pepperdine - Matt Bywater, LHP, So. (2-0, 3.18)
Friday, March 27, 6 p.m. (at UCLA)
Arizona - Preston Guilmet, RHP, Sr. (2-2, 3.58)
UCLA - Gerrit Cole, RHP, Fr. (2-2, 3.24)
Saturday, March 28, 2 p.m. (at UCLA)
Arizona - Matt Veltmann, RHP, So. (1-3, 9.37)
UCLA - Rob Rasmussen, LHP, So. (1-1, 6.23)
Sunday, March 29, 1 p.m. (at UCLA)
Arizona - Bryce Bandilla, LHP, Fr. (2-1, 6.23)
UCLA - Charles Brewer, RHP, Jr. (1-2, 4.00)
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- Wednesday's game at Pepperdine marks UCLA's 14th road contest in the team's first 21 games.
- UCLA has won five of its last eight games, opening Pac-10 play with a series victory (2-1) at USC.
- Casey Haerther belted two homers at USC before earning Pac-10 Player of the Week honors Tuesday.
- Freshman right-hander Gerrit Cole is averaging 13.0 K/9 IP, leading UCLA with 36 this season.
- Junior right-hander Charles Brewer leads all Bruin pitchers with 27.0 innings this spring.
- UCLA's pitching staff logged 30 strikeouts in 26 innings (three games) at USC last weekend.
Junior Casey Haerther captured Pac-10 Player of the Week honors (week of March 16-23) after having batted .500 (7-for-14) with two home runs, eight RBI and five runs in three games at USC. Haerther extended his Pac-10 hitting streak to 21 games, dating back to April 18, 2008 (vs. Stanford). In three seasons at UCLA, Haerther has hit safely in 30 of 36 Pac-10 games in which he has started. The resident of Chatsworth, Calif., clubbed a grand slam to cap UCLA's eight-run ninth inning in a 14-4 win at USC on Saturday. Haerther initiated UCLA's scoring in a 17-2 victory Monday with a three-run homer before finishing 4-for-4 with three runs.
Junior Justin Uribe enters Tuesday's game at Pepperdine batting .345, the Bruins' second-highest batting average. Uribe has hit at a .421 clip in the team's last 11 games (March 6-23), totaling 13 of his 16 RBI in that span. In Monday evening's 17-2 victory at USC, Uribe clubbed a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth to push the Bruins' margin to 13-0. In all, Uribe has totaled three home runs, including one round-tripper hit against UC Irvine at Houston's Minute Maid Park in the Houston College Classic (March 1).
ON THE MOUND IN MALIBU
Freshman right-hander Trevor Bauer will make his 10th appearance of the season (second start) at Pepperdine on Wednesday afternoon. Bauer has logged a 1-3 record and 2.42 ERA in 26.0 innings this season, the second-highest inning total on UCLA's staff. A former standout at Hart High School, Bauer ranks ninth in ERA in the Pac-10 (through Monday's games). In his first start (March 11), he limited San Diego State to one run and two hits in six innings, collecting four strikeouts and issuing three walks.
Tuesday's game at Pepperdine marks UCLA's seventh and final contest of a seven-game road trip that began at East Carolina University (Greenville, N.C.). In fact, Tuesday's game marks the team's 10th road game in a 12-game span (March 6-25). After having opened their 2009 campaign with three home games against UC Davis, the Bruins have played 13 of their last 17 contests on the road. Playing against a schedule ranked in the preseason as the No. 1 most difficult slate in the nation by Boyd's World, UCLA has spent the last four weekends at Houston's Minute Maid Park (Houston College Classic), Oklahoma, East Carolina and USC, respectively.
Eight of UCLA's first 20 games have come against teams ranked in Baseball America's weekly top-25 poll, as ranked during the week of competition. In all, 13 of those games have been played versus opponents ranked in the top-30 in at least one of the major college baseball polls (Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball). When Collegiate Baseball weekly newspaper released its preseason top-40 poll, UCLA's schedule featured 51 of 56 games against teams either ranked in or receiving votes in the publication's preseason poll. Tuesday's contest at Pepperdine marks UCLA's ninth contest against a team ranked in Baseball America's top-25 poll.
Following this weekend's three-game series against Arizona, the Bruins will host Loyola Marymount on Wednesday, April 1, before playing a three-game Pac-10 series at Washington State (April 3-5). Last season, UCLA won its only meeting against Loyola Marymount, defeating the Lions by a 6-2 margin. The Bruins swept a three-game series against Washington State at Jackie Robinson Stadium, outscoring the Cougars in three games, 19-7.
BRINGING THE HEAT
Freshman right-hander Gerrit Cole will make his sixth start of the season Friday night. Cole has registered a 3.24 ERA and 2-2 record in 25.0 innings, collecting a team-high 36 strikeouts and walking 10 batters. Through Monday's action, Cole ranks fourth (tied) among Pac-10 pitchers in strikeouts. Cole picked up the victory in UCLA's 14-4 series-opening win over USC last Saturday, recording six strikeouts in five innings. He registered a season-high 12 strikeouts in five innings at East Carolina on Friday, March 13, before being forced out of the game due to a rain suspension (game resumed following morning). Cole allowed one unearned run and one hit in his first start (Feb. 21, UC Davis), striking out seven in six innings.
Senior infielder Eddie Murray enters Wednesday's game at Pepperdine batting .344 (21-for-61), having made 19 starts (all at second base). Murray spent his first three seasons in Westwood as a backup to All-Pac-10 selections Brandon Crawford, Jermaine Curtis and Alden Carrithers. But the former standout at Gahr High School has provided an immense boost to the Bruins in 2009, ranking third in the Pac-10 in on-base percentage (.512) and ninth in slugging percentage (.607). Murray leads the UCLA ballclub with 21 runs scored.
Senior infielder Cody Decker earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors March 17 after having batted .333 (6-for-18) with four homers and 10 RBI in five games the previous week. Decker vaulted into UCLA's team lead with six home runs and 17 RBI. He went 5-for-12 (.417) with three home runs, eight RBI and four runs in two days (three games) at East Carolina. UCLA overcame a 9-4 deficit in game one on March 13, as Decker led the way with two home runs and five RBI (third multiple-home run game of his career). The four-year Bruin belted a three-run homer in the series finale to bring UCLA within 7-5 of East Carolina on March 14.
UCLA's 17-2 win at USC on Monday 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. Monday evening's 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 the Trojans since 2005 (tied, 2-2, in 2008).
Junior right-hander Charles Brewer earned the victory at USC on March 23, limiting the Trojans to two runs and six hits in 6.1 innings. Brewer, who exited the ballgame leading 14-1 with one runner on base, registered seven strikeouts and issued four walks at Dedeaux Field. The resident of Paradise Valley, Ariz., has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his seven outings (five starts) this spring. Entering this weekend's series at Arizona, Brewer has logged a 1-2 record and 4.00 ERA, collecting 32 strikeouts in a team-high 27.0 innings. Through Monday's action, Brewer ranks ninth in the Pac-10 with 32 strikeouts.
LIFE ON THE ROAD
Senior Eddie Murray and junior Casey Haerther have thrived at the plate playing away from UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium this spring. Haerther leads the Bruins with a .411 batting average in road/neutral games this season, having belted three homers and totaled 12 RBI in those 13 contests. Murray is hitting at a .400 clip in road/neutral contests, leading UCLA in that category with 16 runs and eight walks (tied with Gabe Cohen). As a team, the Bruins are hitting .275 on the road and have belted 15 of their 18 homers away from home. On the mound, left-hander Gavin Brooks leads the charge having surrendered just one hit in 8.1 scoreless innings on the road. In that environment, Brooks has logged 12 strikeouts and four walks.
IN HONOR OF JACK
A circular black patch with the initials "JG" adorns 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.