April 23, 2008
LOS ANGELES - UCLA hits the road for a three-game Pac-10 series at Washington this weekend. The Bruins, winners of five of their last eight games, will play their first road games this weekend since winning two of three games at Arizona (March 28-30). UCLA concluded a 13-game homestand Tuesday evening, defeating UNLV, 8-7, in 11 innings. The Bruins (20-16, 4-5 Pac-10) posted a 7-6 mark in their longest homestand of the season and will play eight of their next 12 games on the road. Last spring, UCLA won the first two of three games against Washington at Jackie Robinson Stadium (April 5-7). Last weekend, the Huskies (24-14, 4-5 Pac-10) dropped two of three games at California.
Friday, April 25 - 6:30 p.m. - at UW's Husky Ballpark
UCLA's Tim Murphy, LHP, Jr. (3-4, 3.45) vs. Washington's Jorden Merry, RHP, Jr. (5-0, 2.10)
Saturday, April 26 - 2 p.m. - at UW's Husky Ballpark
UCLA's Charles Brewer, RHP, So. (4-4, 5.90) vs. Washington's Cam Nobles, RHP, So. (3-2, 4.14)
Sunday, April 27 - 1 p.m. - at UW's Husky Ballpark
UCLA's Gavin Brooks, LHP, So. (4-2, 4.72) vs. Washington's Nick Haughian, LHP, Jr. (4-3, 3.45)
CARRITHERS KEEPS PACE
Second baseman Alden Carrithers leads the Bruins with a .401 batting average, the highest mark by a Bruin through the season's first 36 games since Brian Baron was hitting at a .500 clip at this point during the 2001 season. Carrithers went 4-for-6 with two runs in UCLA's 8-7 win against UNLV on April 22, recording his fifth four-hit game of the season (seventh of his career). Carrithers leads the team with 59 hits, 147 at-bats, 30 runs, three triples (tied), 34 RBI, 87 total bases, a .592 slugging percentage, 14 stolen bases and four sacrifice flies. Carrithers has hit safely in 30 of 36 games as a senior.
AN EXTRA DIMENSION
Shortstop Brandon Crawford helped lead the Bruins to victory Tuesday against UNLV, going 2-for-6 at the plate and hurling 2.2 innings of scoreless relief in his collegiate pitching debut. Crawford also scored the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 11th. Crawford belted a two-out double with the bases empty and advanced home on a pinch-hit single by Mickey Weisser. On the mound, Crawford fanned four hitters without issuing a walk and scattered two hits to record the win. A five-tool ballplayer, Crawford has started all 155 contests (153 at shortstop, two at designated hitter) in three seasons at UCLA.
HITTING IT FARTHER
First baseman Casey Haerther ranks second on the ballclub with a .331 batting average, going 46-for-139, in 34 games this spring (33 starts, all at first base). Haerther has collected six home runs, 29 RBI, a team-leading 13 doubles and nine stolen bases in 11 attempts. In UCLA's last 15 contests, Haerther has posted a .462 batting average, totaling five home runs, 10 doubles, 17 RBI, 14 runs and a .846 slugging percentage. The Chatsworth, Calif., resident has recorded a career-high nine-game hitting streak. Haerther has tallied a .389 batting average with two home runs, five doubles and seven RBI in nine Pac-10 contests.
TOP OF THE PACK
Third baseman Jermaine Curtis leads all Bruins with a .400 batting average in Pac-10 play. Curtis also leads the team in conference action with a .463 on-base percentage. The Fontana, Calif., resident has started at third base in all 36 games this season, posting a .297 batting average and .431 on-base percentage. Entering the week, Curtis was tied for fifth in the Pac-10 with 11 doubles and ranked seventh in the conference with 23 walks. In 123 career games, Curtis has logged a .321 batting average, totaling 70 RBI and 92 runs.
ABOUT THE HUSKIES
The Bruins own a 27-16 all-time record in the series against Washington. The two programs first met on March 21, 1967, and UCLA won the first 13 meetings. The Huskies' first victory in the series came on March 27, 1999, in Seattle. Last season, UCLA downed Washington in the first two games of a three-game set at Jackie Robinson Stadium by scores of 6-5 and 11-2, respectively. The Huskies bounced back in the series finale, defeating UCLA by a 9-4 margin. Washington boasts a 3.78 team ERA, as the Huskies' pitching staff has limited its opponents to a .248 batting average.
Left-hander Tim Murphy makes his 10th start of the season Friday evening in Seattle. Murphy, who hails from Vista, Calif., has recorded a 3-4 record and 3.45 ERA in a team-high 62.2 innings. The southpaw has tallied 10 or more strikeouts in three games this season, registering a career-high 11 strikeouts against Saint Mary's (March 7). Murphy leads the Bruins with 70 strikeouts and currently averages 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings this season. Washington will counter with junior right-hander Jordan Merry, who has logged 45 strikeouts in 51.1 innings, posting a 5-0 record and 2.10 ERA.
UCLA topped UNLV, 8-7, in 11 innings Tuesday night, marking the third game this season in which the Bruins have won in walk-off style. Outfielder Mickey Weisser's single up the middle on an 0-and-2 count sent home Brandon Crawford from second base in the bottom of the 11th. Right-hander Garett Claypool hurled a career-high six scoreless innings as the Bruins' starter, scattering three hits before exiting the ballgame with a 5-0 cushion. The visiting Rebels tagged UCLA's bullpen for seven runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, before UCLA responded with a two-out, 11th inning rally.
THREE IN A ROW
Left-hander Gavin Brooks has earned the victory in each of his last three starts. Brooks has recorded a 4-2 record and 4.72 ERA in eight starts, collecting 41 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. The Vista, Calif., resident has limited the opposition to a .229 average. In UCLA's 8-2 win against Stanford on Sunday, the left-hander allowed two runs and six hits in six innings, logging six strikeouts. Brooks hurled three consecutive complete games to end his freshman season, leading the Bruins to wins against Oregon State and Illinois-Chicago (NCAA Regional), before striking out 12 in a 2-1 elimination loss to Cal State Fullerton (Super Regional).
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 101-110 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 11 wins shy of his 200th career victory as a college baseball head coach (189-194-1 career record).
The Bruins have posted a 15-2 record when scoring five or more runs. When scoring three runs or fewer, UCLA has gone 1-10. 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.
UCLA's offense erupted for five home runs in an 18-7 win over UC Riverside on April 12. Led by Casey Haerther's two blasts, the most by any Bruin in a game this spring, UCLA was able to record its first five-home-run game since March 5, 2006, when five different players went yard in a 13-2 victory at N.C. State. The Bruins finished the three-game set against UC Riverside hitting at a .451 clip, collecting 32 runs, 51 hits, 12 doubles, three triples and five homers.
Left-hander Matt Drummond had two strong outings in relief last weekend against Stanford. Entering the game Friday with UCLA trailing 3-1, Drummond allowed one unearned run and two hits in four innings, recording a career-high five strikeouts. In Sunday's victory against the Cardinal, Drummond hurled three shutout innings in relief, recording his first collegiate save. The Paso Robles, Calif., resident has registered a 4.54 ERA and 2-2 record in 13 appearances (three starts), limiting the opposition to a .248 batting average. Drummond has totaled 33 strikeouts and issued 21 walks in 37.2 innings.
Junior Ryan Babineau has been named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list, as announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award is given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher. Babineau has caught more games than any Pac-10 catcher (143), making 138 starts. Babineau has committed two errors in 1,140 chances (.998 pct.), throwing out 40 of 95 attempted base stealers (42.1 pct). This season, opponents have attemped to steal off Babineau 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.
NO LAUGHING MATTER
Left-hander Brendan Lafferty has emerged as one of the Bruins' most dependable and durable relievers this spring. Having made a team-high 19 appearances (all in relief), Lafferty has logged a 4.02 ERA and 1-1 record, totaling 36 strikeouts and 18 walks in 40.1 innings. In the Bruins' 6-1 loss to Stanford on Saturday, Lafferty scattered five hits in 4.1 scoreless innings of relief, recording four strikeouts and one walk. The Riverside, Calif., resident has competed with UCLA longer than any other player (only Bruin from `05 squad). Lafferty made 15 appearances in 2005, redshirted in 2006, and led the team with 25 appearances in 2007.
HAERTHER MAKES HISTORY
First baseman Casey Haerther recorded a UCLA and Pac-10 Conference record with seven hits in seven plate appearances in a 20-8 win at Arizona on March 29. Haerther registered career highs with four doubles, four runs and four RBI, finishing the series going 9-for-14 (.643) with four doubles, one home run and six RBI. In the final two games at Arizona, Haerther raised his batting average 85 points (.203 to .288).
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.
BACK TO WORK
Head coach John Savage has the Bruin baseball program headed in the right direction. UCLA finished its 2007 season with its first trip to the NCAA Super Regionals since 2000. The Bruins dropped both games to Cal State Fullerton, by scores of 12-2 and 2-1. UCLA advanced to the Super Regionals after winning the Long Beach Regional, recording wins over No. 3-seed Pepperdine (7-3), No. 4-seed Illinois-Chicago (3-1) and No. 1-seed Long Beach State (7-4) at Blair Field. Last year, the Bruins advanced to the postseason for the second consecutive season. No UCLA baseball team has made three straight postseason appearances.
Sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Justin Uribe will miss the remainder of the 2008 season with a left elbow injury (torn UCL). Freshman left-hander Rob Rasmussen will miss 1-2 weeks with a fractured left foot (return expected early May). Rasmussen sustained the injury on a line drive in the third inning against UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27). Freshman right-hander Dan Klein remains inactive with shoulder soreness and is expected to return in early May. 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).
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 live online. All remaining regular-season games, including this weekend's series against Washington, can be followed live through CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com.