Feb. 15, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The No. 14 UCLA baseball team begins its 2012 season against Maryland on Friday evening at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Game time is 6 p.m. Right-hander Adam Plutko will take the mound as the Bruins' starting pitcher in the season opener.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS (2011 stats)
Friday, Feb. 17 - 6 p.m.
Maryland - Brady Kirkpatrick, RHP, So. (2-5, 5.71)
UCLA - Adam Plutko, RHP, So. (7-4, 2.01)
Saturday, Feb. 18 - 2 p.m.
Maryland - David Carroll, RHP, Sr. (5-5, 4.70)
UCLA - Nick Vander Tuig, RHP, So. (3-4, 2.90)
Sunday, Feb. 19 - 10 a.m.
Maryland - Brett Harman, RHP, RS Sr. (redshirted in 2011)
UCLA - Zack Weiss, RHP, So. (5-3, 2.86)
LISTEN LIVE ONLINE (click here)
Each game of UCLA's home games will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at uclabruins.com. In addition, UCLA will broadcast select road games throughout the season. UCLA's John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call live from Jackie Robinson Stadium this weekend as the Bruins open their schedule against Maryland. In addition, fans can follow online through GameTracker, which provides pitch-by-pitch updates of the game in progress on uclabruins.com.
BRUINS OPEN VERSUS MARYLAND
UCLA begins its 2012 season against Maryland on Friday, Feb. 17, hosting a three-game series at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins have won their last five season openers, all played at home. UCLA and Maryland have never faced each other on the baseball diamond. The Bruins last played an ACC team in the 2008 NCAA Fullerton Regional, defeating Virginia, 3-2, in a first-round contest at Goodwin Field. In seven seasons under head coach John Savage, UCLA has posted a 5-5 record against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
FOLLOW THE BRUINS ON TWITTER, FACEBOOK
Fans can receive in-game updates and regular news about the UCLA baseball team by following the program on Twitter (twitter.com/uclabaseball). In addition, check out the baseball team's Facebook page at facebook.com/uclabaseball for regular updates, photos and more.
GETTING TO THE GAME
Tickets to games at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium cost $7 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 16 and under). UCLA students earn free admission with their BruinCard. Parking costs $8. The Bruins' home stadium is located on the West Los Angeles VA Grounds, along Constitution Avenue, just west of the 405 freeway and Sepulveda Boulevard. UCLA's home field features a concession stand stocked with regular ballpark fare, including hot dogs, hamburgers, chili, nachos, candy, sodas and more.
The Bruins return six position players who have started at least 40 career games. Three of those veterans - juinors Beau Amaral (115), Cody Regis (109) and Cody Keefer (101) - have made at least 100 starts for UCLA over the past two seasons. Amaral, Regis and Keefer, along with Jeff Gelalich and Trevor Brown, were key contributors on UCLA's College World Series team in 2010 as freshmen and earned substantial playing time as sophomores in 2011. Gelalich (77), Valaika (50) and Brown (44) have each logged at least 40 starts.
UCLA's projected starting outfielders - LF Cody Keefer, CF Beau Amaral and RF Jeff Gelalich - have been mainstays in the Bruins' lineup the last two seasons. Keefer has made 101 starts in left field, posting a career .309 batting average and .426 on-base percentage. Amaral earned All-Pac-10 honors in 2011 and enters his junior campaign having logged a .327 career batting average with six home runs, 28 doubles and 82 runs. Jeff Gelalich has batted .284 with four homers, 17 doubles and 17 stolen bases in two seasons.
AROUND THE INFIELD
Junior Cody Regis has played in 118 games the past two seasons, making 109 starts (102 at third base). The Bruins' third baseman has batted .298 with 15 home runs and 92 RBI the last two years. Sophomore Pat Valaika emerged as UCLA's starting shortstop last season and will be counted upon to man that position again this spring. Freshman Kevin Kramer (Turlock, Calif.) and sophomore Kevin Williams should vie for playing time at second base, while junior Trevor Brown is projected to open the season as UCLA's first baseman. Junior Tyler Heineman and Brown will vie for playing time behind the plate.
STARTING THE SEASON OPENER
Sophomore right-hander Adam Plutko will take the mound for UCLA in the season opener on Friday night against Maryland. Plutko earned All-Pac-10 Team honors as a freshman in 2011, going 7-4 with a 2.01 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 107.2 innings. He has secured second-team preseason All-America honors from CollegeBaseballInsider.com and third-team acclaim from Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball. Plutko served as the Sunday starter last season, pitching behind eventual first round draft picks Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer.
INTO THE ROTATION
Sophomore right-hander Nick Vander Tuig will make his first collegiate start on Saturday, after having pitched as UCLA's closer during his freshman campaign in 2011. Vander Tuig went 3-4 with a 2.90 ERA in a team-leading 28 appearances (all in relief) last spring, logging nine saves as the closer. He limited the opposition to a .250 batting average, striking out 31 batters and walking just eight in 31.0 innings. Vander Tuig was selected in the 39th round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Oakdale High School (Oakdale, Calif.).
SUNDAY'S PROBABLE STARTER
Zack Weiss will round out UCLA's trio of sophomore right-handers in the weekend rotation. He split time pitching in the bullpen and as the team's midweek starter in 2011. He went 5-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 games (nine starts), recording 53 strikeouts and 22 walks in 66.0 innings. As a starter, Weiss went 4-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 49.1 innings, limiting the opposition to a .199 batting average. His most valiant effort came in UCLA's final game of the season, a 4-3 loss to UC Irvine in the NCAA Regional. Weiss allowed three runs in eight-plus innings.
BRUINS IN THE BULLPEN
With the loss of starters Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, and with Nick Vander Tuig and Zack Weiss taking on roles as weekend starting pitchers, UCLA's bullpen will feature several new faces in 2012. Among the most experienced and talented relievers is junior Scott Griggs, who has made 17 appearances (three starts) the past two seasons. Other key pitchers expected to provide relief include junior Chase Brewer, sophomore Ryan Deeter and freshmen David Berg, Eric Jaffe, Zack Ortiz and Grant Watson.
Head coach John Savage has produced 51 MLB Draft selections in his seven seasons at UCLA. Last June, right-handers Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh) and Trevor Bauer (Arizona) became the first and third overall selections in the MLB Draft. Three of Savage's pitchers have already been promoted to the major leagues (Hector Ambriz, David Huff and Josh Roenicke). Most recently, three-year UCLA shortstop Brandon Crawford was promoted to the San Francisco Giants in May 2011. Of the 51 draft selections, 16 have been selected in the first 10 rounds.
EYEING THE BIG LEAGUES
As major league Spring Training opens in Florida and Arizona this month, UCLA has 11 former players who have been invited to major league camp. Seven of those 11 players are currently listed on 40-man major league rosters. The full list of players includes Hector Ambriz (Cleveland), Trevor Bauer (Arizona), Charles Brewer (Arizona), Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh), Brandon Crawford (San Francsico), Ben Francisco (Toronto), David Huff (Cleveland), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Rob Rasmussen (Miami), Josh Roenicke (Colorado) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia).
UCLA's returning players account for 63 percent of the total at-bats from last season (1218 or 1936). Those veterans account for 64 percent of the team's total at-bats from last season (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).
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.
In conference games over the last six seasons (2006-11), UCLA ranks second in both wins (91) and winning percentage (.599). Overall, the Bruins rank fourth in total wins (212) and fourth in winning percentage (.586). UCLA won the Pac-10 title in outright fashion in 2011 for the first time since 1986. The Bruins finished second in 2010 and earned a third-place finish from 2006 through 2009. Prior to UCLA winning the conference title last season, Arizona State had won the Pac-10 title the previous four seasons (2007-10).