May 24, 2007
LOS ANGELES - The No. 26 UCLA baseball team concludes its regular season with a three-game home series against defending national champion No. 23 Oregon State (36-16, 8-13 Pac-10) this weekend. The Bruins (29-24, 13-8) look to advance to the NCAA Regionals for the second consecutive season and for the third time in the last four years.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday (6 p.m.), UCLA - Tyson Brummett (RHP) vs. OSU - TBA
Saturday (2 p.m.), UCLA - Tim Murphy (LHP) vs. OSU - TBA
Sunday (12 p.m.), UCLA - Gavin Brooks (LHP) vs. OSU - TBA
LAST TIME OUT
Last season, UCLA and Oregon State split two games in Corvallis, Ore., as the Saturday contest was rained out. Ryan Babineau led the Bruins' offense at Oregon State a year ago, hitting .400 (2-for-5) with a .571 on-base percentage.
HOME SWEET HOME
UCLA looks to win its fourth and final home Pac-10 series this season, which would mark the first time that the Bruins have won each three-game Pac-10 series at Jackie Robinson Stadium in back-to-back years. In addition to five Pac-10 series wins, UCLA has won four non-conference series. The Bruins have posted an 18-9 home record this season and finished 19-12 at Jackie Robinson Stadium in 2006. UCLA has won eight of its last 10 home games, and will play its first home game since May 6.
ABOUT THE BEAVERS
Defending national champion Oregon State, ranked No. 23 in the nation by the USA Today/ESPN Coaches and NCBWA polls, enters this weekend's series with a 36-16 overall mark and an 8-13 Pac-10 record. The Beavers were swept last weekend by Arizona State but have captured series wins over USC, California and Stanford. Oregon State's offense has been led by catcher Mitch Canham (.345 avg), outfielder Mike Lissman (.330 avg) and first baseman Jordan Lennerton (.327 avg).
BACK FROM THE ROAD
The Bruins won the final contest of a three-game series at Washington State last weekend. UCLA dropped the series opener Friday afternoon, 5-1, as Tyson Brummett pitched his seventh complete game of the season. Despite a ninth-inning rally, the Bruins fell short Saturday, 10-5. In a back-and-forth game Sunday afternoon, UCLA prevailed, 7-5, as Gavin Brooks picked up his fourth victory.
EIGHT EARN ALL-PAC-10 HONORS
Senior Tyson Brummett, freshman Gabe Cohen and sophomores Brandon Crawford, Jermaine Curtis and Cody Decker have earned All-Pac-10 team recognition. Ryan Babineau, Alden Carrithers and Tim Murphy captured All-Pac-10 honorable mention accolades. The 2007 squad secured the most All-Pac-10 team selections at UCLA since 2000 (also five players). Cohen earned Pac-10 Co-Newcomer of the Year honors, becoming the first Bruin to gain that award since Wes Whisler (2002).
COHEN CLIMBS UP
After hitting 8-for-12 (.667) at Washington State last weekend, freshman Gabe Cohen has posted a team-best .360 average (63-for-175) and has tallied a .411 Pac-10 average, second-best in the conference. The freshman from Woodland Hills, Calif., hit 2-for-4 on Friday, before posting back-to-back 3-for-4 games on Saturday and Sunday. Cohen has totaled 18 multi-hit games, including two four-hit efforts. UCLA's right fielder has recorded a .462 average (12-for-26) over the last seven games.
THROW SOME K's
UCLA's three weekend starters each rank in the top 10 among the Pac-10 Conference's strikeout leaders. Right-hander Tyson Brummett leads the staff with 101 strikeouts in a team-leading 119.1 innings. Brummett leads all Pac-10 pitchers with the most strikeouts looking (47). Left-hander Tim Murphy has registered 84 strikeouts, including his team-best 14-strikeout performance at Arizona State (May 12). Southpaw Gavin Brooks has struck out 72 hitters in 84.2 innings.
This weekend's series marks the final home games for six seniors - Kevin Brophy, Tyson Brummett, Will Penniall, Nolan Rouse, Paul Schmidt and Tim Stewart. Over the past four seasons, the Bruins have made two NCAA Regional appearances and earned three series victories over USC and two against Stanford. Penniall leads the veteran bunch, having played at UCLA since the fall of 2002.
According to Boyd's World, a national strength of schedule ranking service, UCLA faces the third-most difficult schedule in the nation. UCLA's non-conference slate has been ranked the most challenging non-conference schedule in the country. The Bruins play 14 games against teams currently ranked in Baseball America's top-25 poll. Likewise, 50 of UCLA's 56 regular-season games are against teams either ranked in or receiving votes in Collegiate Baseball's preseason "Fabulous 40" poll.
The NCAA baseball selection committee will reveal the 16 regional host sites Sunday, May 27, at approximately 12:15 p.m. (PST) on ESPN. The NCAA will reveal the 64-team NCAA Tournament bracket at 9:30 a.m. (PST) on Monday, May 28, live on ESPN. Any media members wishing to speak with UCLA players or coaches regarding the tournament selection should contact sports information director Alex Timiraos by Sunday afternoon. Sunday's and Monday's selections will be made available as soon as announced at ncaasports.com.
The Bruins' offense has seen a dramatic surge in production over the last 31 games, a span in which UCLA has tallied a 21-10 record. UCLA has compiled a .313 batting average after opening the first 22 contests with hitting at a .263 clip.
Junior Alden Carrithers has posted a fantastic first season at UCLA, hitting .350 in all 53 games as the Bruins' second baseman. The transfer from UC Santa Barbara has totaled 70 hits, 48 runs, 13 doubles, two home runs and 30 RBI. The Portland, Ore., native has stolen seven bases on eight attempts, has led UCLA with 29 walks and nine hit-by-pitches and has tallied a .438 on-base percentage. While at UC Santa Barbara, Carrithers earned All-Big West honors as a second baseman in 2006.
Sophomore first baseman Cody Decker has flexed his muslces this season, totaling 13 home runs in 53 games. The Santa Monica, Calif., native has hit two home runs in two games (March 30, at Stanford; May 6, vs. California). He has become the first Bruin to eclipse the 10-home-run plateau since Ryan McCarthy totaled 15 home runs in 2004.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
Senior Will Penniall has bolstered the UCLA lineup and currently boasts a .309 batting average. Penniall, whose father (Dave) played baseball for the Bruins in 1975 and 1976, has played in 39 games (32 starts) and has started UCLA's last 17 games in left field. In the series opener at Arizona State, Penniall hit UCLA's only inside-the-park home run of the season. No current Bruin has played in more career games than Penniall - 130 games from 2004-2007.
CURTIS LEADS OFF
Sophomore Jermaine Curtis sparked the Bruins when he returned to the lineup March 30 at Stanford. UCLA won 12 of its first 14 games with Curtis at third base and has totaled a 19-10 mark since his return. Through 29 games, the Bruins' third baseman has hit .331 with three home runs, 30 RBI and 27 runs scored. A perfect four-of-four on the basepaths, Curtis has logged a .420 on-base percentage.
CLAYPOOL CAN DEAL
Freshman right-hander Garett Claypool has tallied a 3.54 ERA in 24 appearances (seven starts). The West Hills, Calif., resident has recorded a 1.82 ERA as a starter, registering 20 strikeouts in 29.2 innings through seven starts. Claypool has posted a 3-0 record as a starting pitcher, and most recently earned the victory by pitching five scoreless innings at Pepperdine on Tuesday, May 8.
Several Bruins have broken some relatively long-standing single-season marks:
- Tyson Brummett, Wins (9): most since Casey Janssen's 10 wins in 2004
- Tyson Brummett, Strikeouts (101): most since Casey Janssen's 103 strikeouts in 2004
- Cody Decker, RBI (52): most since Dave Johnson's 78 RBI in 2000
- Brant Rustich, Saves (6): most since Chad Cislak's six saves in 1999
- Gabe Cohen, HR by a freshman (9): most since Wes Whisler's 18 homers in 2002
Other marks that may fall in this weekend's series against Oregon State:
- Tyson Brummett, Strikeouts (101): Rob Henkel (136 in 2000), last Bruin to reach 104+ strikeouts
- Brandon Crawford, Hits (73): Brian Baron (105 in 2001), last Bruin to reach 78+ hits
- Alden Carrithers, Runs (48): Chase Utley (81 in 2000), last Bruin to reach 53+ runs
- Brandon Crawford, Stolen Bases (11): Ben Francisco and Ryan Rasmussen (20 in 2002), last Bruins to reach 12+ stolen bases
Sophomores Jermaine Curtis and Brandon Crawford and senior Will Penniall have played well under the lights this season. Curtis and Penniall are both hitting .396 (19-for-48) at night, and Crawford has hit at a .347 clip in 24 night games. Freshman Gabe Cohen has hit a team-leading five home runs in the evening, and Curtis leads all Bruins with 20 RBI under the lights. Freshman Garett Claypool has been most effective at night, limiting opponents to a 1.98 average while totaling a 2.70 ERA.
BEN'S BIG DAY
Former Bruin Ben Francisco made his major league debut on Tuesday, May 1, with the Cleveland Indians. Francisco's major-league stay was short lived, as the former Bruin was optioned to Buffalo (AAA) two days later. Currently, eight former UCLA players are on major league rosters - Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Eric Byrnes (Arizona), Jeff Conine (Cincinnati), Troy Glaus (Toronto), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Adam Melhuse (Oakland), Dave Roberts (San Francisco) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia).
PAC-10 COACHES PICK UCLA FOURTH
UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches poll. The Bruins were picked to finish behind Arizona State, Oregon State, and Stanford, respectively. Last season, UCLA was selected eighth in the preseason poll and finished third in the Pac-10 with a 13-10 conference mark (33-25 overall).
AN APRIL TO REMEMBER
UCLA finished 12-4 in April, the most victories in one month since the Bruins collected 14 wins in February 1997. UCLA last won 12 or more games in April in 1982, when the Bruins finished the month with a 13-8 record. Last month, Ryan Babineau led the Bruins offense with a .375 average and four home runs. Cody Decker belted six home runs and totaled 24 RBI in 16 games.
BEST PAC-10 STARTS
The Bruins jumped out to one of their best starts in conference play when they won 10 of their first 11 Pac-10 games. UCLA's best-ever conference start (and finish) took place in 1924, when the Bruins finished their conference slate with a 10-0 mark. After starting 5-0 in the Pac-10 over three weeks ago, UCLA was off to its best conference start since 1977, when the Bruins began their Pac-8 schedule with a 5-0 mark before ending the season 10-8 in the conference.
The Bruins made history on Sunday, March 25 against Pacific. Trailing 8-1 in the eighth, UCLA posted a school-record 14-run inning to defeat the Tigers, 15-8. Sophomore Cody Decker inititated the Bruins' heroics with a grand slam and finished with five RBI. UCLA had previously scored 13 runs in one inning - versus Winthrop on Feb. 4, 2007 and against Arizona State on Feb. 28, 1997. The Bruins' 14-run inning not only lifted UCLA to victory, but propeled the team to a 19-4 span during March and April.
MAKING MORE HISTORY
One weekend after the series win against Pacific, UCLA became the first team to sweep Stanford at Sunken Diamond in a three-game regular-season series since Arizona State accomplished the feat in 1997. Stanford had not been swept at home in its previous 71 home series. UCLA had not swept the Cardinal on the road since 1991 and had not swept a series against Stanford since 1997.
GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD
UCLA plays its best ball when it wins the first inning. The Bruins have posted a 15-5 record when they score in the first inning and have tallied a 16-7 mark when they score first in the game. UCLA has finished 11-9 when its opponent scores in the first inning. The Bruins are 13-17 when their opponents score first in the game. When leading after eight innings, UCLA has recorded a 27-1 record and when ahead after six innings, the Bruins have registered a 20-2 mark.
YOU BETTER WATCH HIM
Sophomore Brandon Crawford has been selected to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List and the Dick Howser Trophy Watch List. In addition, Crawford has been tabbed on the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award "Revised" Watch List. Crawford's late game heroics have included a game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning against East Carolina (Feb. 18) and a two-RBI single on an 0-2 count with two outs in the ninth at USC (April 14).
Baseball America selected UCLA as its preseason pick to win the Pac-10 title. B.A. projected UCLA to join Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was selected to its preseason All-Pac-10 Team, and right-handed pitcher Charles Brewer was listed as the Pac-10's fifth-best newcomer. The magazine projected Brant Rustich as the Pac-10's ninth-best pro prospect (2007). In its ranking of "best tools" in the Pac-10, Baseball America named Crawford as the "best athlete," "best defensive shortstop" and infielder with the "best arm." Ryan Babineau was listed as the catcher with the "best arm," Jermaine Curtis as "best defensive third baseman," right-hander Tyson Brummett with the "best changeup" and outfielder Jeff Rapoport as the "fastest runner."
CRAWFO-RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Sophomore Brandon Crawford spent his summer playing for the U.S. National Team and helped lead Team USA to the FISU (International University Sports Federation) World Championship after the club posted a 28-2-1 overall mark. Crawford played in 23 games, starting 10, and hit .257 (9-for-35). He collected two doubles, six RBI, seven runs, three walks and one stolen base.
UCLA has not played any extra-inning games this season. In 2006, the Bruins won two of three extra-inning contests. The Bruins defeated Washington, 3-2, in 11 innings and topped Arizona State, 11-10, in 10 innings. Washington State edged UCLA, 4-3 in 10 frames. Under head coach John Savage, the Bruins have compiled a 4-3 record in extra-inning games.
JANSSEN BOLSTERS JAYS' BULLPEN
Former UCLA right-hander Casey Janssen has earned a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen. In 17 relief outings, Janssen has limited opponents to two runs and 19 hits while striking out eight (through Monday, May 21). He has tallied a 0.84 ERA in 21.1 innings pitched. The former Bruin earned his first major league save on April 8, striking out one without allowing a hit in 2.0 scoreless innings, and tallied his first major league win on May 14.
ON THE FARM
Five former Bruins were rated as the top prospects in their respective MLB organizations. Dave Huff, last season's ace, has been ranked the No. 10 prospect in Cleveland's organization. Hector Ambriz, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2003, 2005-06), has been tabbed the No. 22 prospect in Arizona's farm system. Wes Whisler, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2002-04), is rated the No. 29 prospect in the Chicago White Sox organzation. Ben Francisco (2001-02) and Paul Oseguera (2005-06) have each earned honorable mention prospect accolades (Cleveland and San Francisco, respectively).