March 7, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The No. 16 UCLA baseball team opens a three-game series at No. 9 Georgia (11-2) on Friday evening at the Bulldogs' Foley Field. Game time of the series opener Friday is 6:30 p.m. (ET). UCLA (9-3) enters the weekend series having won its last seven games.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, March 9 - 3:30 p.m. (PT)/6:30 p.m. (ET)
UCLA - Adam Plutko, RHP, So. (1-1, 3.31)
Georgia - Alex Wood, LHP, So. (3-0, 2.25)
Saturday, March 10 - 11 a.m. (PT)/2 p.m. (ET)
UCLA - Nick Vander Tuig, RHP, So. (2-0, 3.38)
Georgia - Pete Nagel, RHP, Fr. (2-1, 3.00)
Sunday, March 11 - 10 a.m. (PT)/1 p.m. (ET)
UCLA - Zack Weiss, RHP, So. (1-1, 3.71)
Georgia - Taylor Hicks, RHP, Fr. (2-1, 3.00)
BRUINS HEADED TO GEORGIA
UCLA opens a three-game series at Georgia beginning Friday, March 9. The Bruins dropped a 6-2 decision to the Bulldogs at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium on March 11, 2011, in the only previous meeting between the two schools on the baseball diamond. Last season's game began as a fierce pitcher's duel between Georgia's Alex Wood and UCLA's Gerrit Cole, who retired the first 19 consecutive Georgia hitters before allowing four runs in the seventh inning. UCLA last played a three-game series at an SEC program in March 2007 (at Mississippi).
UCLA WINS SEVENTH STRAIGHT
The Bruins posted a 4-0 victory over UC Riverside on Tuesday, extending their win streak to seven games. Grant Watson improved his record to 3-0, scattering two hits through 5.1 scoreless innings. Watson and four UCLA relief pitchers limited the visiting Highlanders to four hits. Beau Amaral led UCLA's 10-hit attack, going 3-for-5 with one double, one run and one RBI. Tyler Heineman went 1-for-3, pushing his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. UCLA's win streak began after losing a series-opening game to Baylor, 15-3, on Friday, Feb. 24.
BRUINS ON TELEVISION
Saturday's game at Georgia will be televised live by Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast. The game will begin at 11 a.m. (PT)/2 p.m. (ET). For more information about CSS, visit the cable station's website at www.csssports.com. CSS is available through Comcast, Charter and other cable providers. The station is currently not available through Dish Network or DirecTV.
UCLA's weekend rotation features three sophomore right-handers -- Adam Plutko, Nick Vander Tuig and Zack Weiss. Plutko enters the upcoming series at Georgia with a 1-1 record and 3.31 ERA. He earned All-Pac-10 honors as a freshman in 2011, going 7-4 with a 2.01 ERA as UCLA's Sunday starter. Vander Tuig improved to 2-0 last Saturday, allowing one unearned run and six hits in eight innings against Sacramento State. Weiss has gone 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA in 17.0 innings, as all three pitchers have made three starts this season.
Kevin Williams (.462) and Jeff Gelalich (.429) have keyed UCLA's offense through the team's first 12 games, and particularly during the team's seven-game win streak. Williams has hit safely in the Bruins' last five games, having gone 3-for-4 in an 11-2 win over Sacramento State on Sunday. Gelalich leads UCLA's hitters with 18 hits, three home runs, four doubles, 12 RBI and 14 runs. The junior from La Verne, Calif., earned Pac-12 Player of the Week acclaim one week ago, after having gone 7-for-14 with three homers in four games.
UCLA earned its first three-game series sweep of the season on Sunday with an 11-2 win over Sacramento State. The Bruins won on Friday, 5-2, before securing a 6-2 victory on Saturday. UCLA outscored the visiting Hornets, 22-6, in the series, batting .319 with seven doubles and a .412 on-base percentage. Jeff Gelalich went 5-for-8 with four doubles, five RBI, two runs and three walks, and Kevin Williams batted .545 (6-for-11). Last season, the Bruins recorded three series sweeps in three-game weekend series.
The Bruins' bullpen has combined for 42 appearances, logging a 3-1 record, 3.16 ERA and three saves in 42.2 innings. Ryan Deeter has pitched in 10 of UCLA's 12 games, posting a team-low 1.08 ERA in 8.1 innings while limiting the opposition to a .154 batting average. David Berg has nine strikeouts in 8.2 innings, having registered a 1-0 record and 2.08 ERA in six games. Scott Griggs has gone 1-0 with three saves and a 1.08 ERA, allowing just one hit through 8.0 innings. Chase Brewer has compiled a 1.29 ERA, allowing one run in 7.0 innings.
WHAT'S IN A STREAK
Jeff Gelalich has batted at a .500 clip, going 11-for-22, with eight RBI and eight runs in UCLA's seven-game win streak. In that span, the Bruins are batting .329 with 17 extra-base hits and have outscored the opposition, 52-16. Kevin Williams has batted .435 (10-for-23), while Tyler Heineman and Trevor Brown have each gone 10-for-25 at the plate (.400). UCLA's pitching staff has logged a 2.00 ERA in those seven games. Left-hander Grant Watson has surrendered just one run and three hits in his last 10.1 innings (four games, two starts).
UCLA will play USC at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, March 13, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. Earlier that afternoon, UC Irvine will face Pepperdine at 2 p.m. The Dodgertown Classic began in 2010, with UCLA securing a 6-1 victory over USC before 14,588 fans. Last season, USC blanked the Bruins, 2-0. Tickets to this year's event cost $5 in advance (when purchased through UCLA's Central Ticket Office), or $12 when purchased on the day of the game. Parking at Dodger Stadium that day is free and concessions will be offered at a discounted price.
In seven years under head coach John Savage, the Bruins have regularly played non-conference road series against teams away from the West Coast. This weekend, UCLA will play a three-game series at Georgia (March 9-11). Last season, the Bruins played three consecutive extra-inning games at Nebraska. Aside from traveling to Omaha, Neb., for the 2010 College World Series, UCLA played three games in the Whataburger College Classic in Corpus Christi, Calif., that season. In 2009, UCLA spent three consecutive weekends on the road away from the West (at the Houston College Classic, Oklahoma and East Carolina).
BEHIND THE PLATE
UCLA has utilized juniors Tyler Heineman and Trevor Brown behind the plate this season, as that duo has been leaned upon to replace three-year starting catcher Steve Rodriguez, who was selected in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Heineman entered the 2012 season having made just 14 starts as UCLA's catcher in his first two seasons. Brown started just 10 games as the catcher in 2010 and none in 2011. He made 30 starts last season - 24 at second base, three at third and two at first. Heineman has hit safely in each of UCLA's first 12 games, while Brown has primarily served as UCLA's starting first baseman.
BRUINS AGAINST THE SEC
In seven seasons under UCLA head coach John Savage, the Bruins have posted a 7-6 record against SEC teams. UCLA played six games against SEC opponents in 2010, posting a 4-2 record in those games. The Bruins defeated Florida, 11-3, in their first game of the 2010 College World Series. South Carolina won both games against UCLA in the finals of the 2010 College World Series. UCLA last played a three-game road series against an SEC opponent in March 2007, when the Bruins won one of three games at Mississippi.
UCLA's returning players account for 63 percent of the total at-bats from last season (1218 or 1936)and 64 percent of the team's total at-bats from last spring (325 of 509). The Bruins return 30 percent of their total at-bats from the 2010 team (706 of 2362) and 32 percent of their total hits from that spring (229 of 718). Beau Amaral, Trevor Brown, Jeff Gelalich, Cody Keefer and Cody Regis each played significantly as freshman in 2010, helping lead UCLA to the College World Series that season.
UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-12's preseason coaches' poll. Stanford, Arizona and Arizona State earned the top three spots, respectively. The remaining seven teams include (in order) Oregon State, California, Oregon, USC, Washington State, Washington and Utah.