April 16, 2009
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA baseball team returns to Jackie Robinson Stadium to open a three-game Pac-10 series against Washington, beginning Friday, April 17 (6 p.m.). After opening Pac-10 action having played three of their first four series on the road, the Bruins (14-19, 6-6) will host home Pac-10 series on back-to-back weekends. UCLA has won four of its last six ballgames, and Washington (14-19, 4-5) enters the weekend riding a four-game win streak. Last spring, the Bruins won the final two of three games in a Pac-10 series at Washington.
SERIES VS. WASHINGTON: UCLA leads, 29-17
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: UCLA, two wins
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, April 17 (6 p.m.)
Washington - Aaron West, RHP, Fr. (1-0, 6.00)
UCLA - Gerrit Cole, RHP, Fr. (2-3, 4.15)
Saturday, April 18 (2 p.m.)
Washington - Jason Erickson, RHP, Sr. (1-3, 5.88)
UCLA - Trevor Bauer, RHP, Fr. (5-3, 3.10)
Sunday, April 19 (1 p.m.)
Washington - Andrew Kittredge, RHP, Fr. (1-2, 3.03)
UCLA - Charles Brewer, RHP, Jr. (1-4, 4.22)
- UCLA has won four of its last six games, including a 7-3 victory at No. 15 San Diego State on Tuesday night.
- The Bruins have spent just two of their first eight weekends this season playing at home.
- Senior second baseman Eddie Murray leads UCLA's offense with a .493 on-base percentage and 29 runs.
- Senior first baseman Cody Decker has tallied 12 homers and 30 RBI, posting a .617 slugging percentage.
- Entering this weekend's action, UCLA ranks second in the Pac-10 with 310 strikeouts on the mound.
Admission to UCLA baseball games at Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium costs seven dollars for adults and five dollars for children. Parking at the baseball facility costs five dollars. Jackie Robinson Stadium is located on the grounds of the Veteran Administration and can be accessed from the 405 freeway (Wilshire Blvd exit). The ballpark lies on Constitution Avenue, just west of the intersection of Sepulveda Blvd and Constitution. For those unable to attend, UCLA provides a free live audio broadcast of each game, available online at uclabruins.com.
TALE OF THE TAPE
UCLA enters Friday's series opener against Washington having won four of its last six games. The Bruins have gone 12-9 since opening the season 2-10. UCLA ranks sixth among all Pac-10 teams in batting average (.274) and ERA (4.62). The Bruins' pitching staff has logged 310 strikeouts, second-highest among Pac-10 competitors, in 290.0 innings, the fourth-highest total in the Pac-10. Washington ranks eighth in the conference with a .270 team batting average and 4.89 team ERA. The Huskies enter the series in Los Angeles riding a four-game win streak after having swept California in three games last weekend.
Freshmen right-handers Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer have begun their careers at UCLA in top fashion. Slated to start in the series opener on Friday, Gerrit Cole leads UCLA with 58 strikeouts, the fifth-highest total among Pac-10 pitchers. Cole has notched a 2-3 record and 4.15 ERA in eight weekend starts, limiting the opposition to a .217 average in 43.1 innings. Bauer began the season pitching out of the bullpen before making his first career start March 11 against San Diego State (no-decision). The freshman from Valencia, Calif., leads UCLA with five wins (5-3 record), having notched 43 strikeouts in a team-high 52.1 innings (fifth-most in Pac-10).
RELIABLE IN RELIEF
Sophomore left-hander Rob Rasmussen earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors Monday, after having gone 1-0 with one save and eight strikeouts in two relief outings last week. He earned the victory on Tuesday, April 7, against then-No. 5 UC Irvine, allowing one run and three hits in three innings of relief. Four days later, he tossed three innings of one-hit ball, notching five strikeouts at Stanford to record his first career save. In his last four outings, Rasmussen has logged 17 strikeouts in 10.1 innings, surrendering just two runs and seven hits.
Senior first baseman Cody Decker has belted five home runs in the Bruins' last seven games, pushing his season total to 12. Decker connected for one pair of two-run homers in UCLA's 8-5 win at Stanford on Friday. In the Bruins' 8-3 victory over then-No. 5 UC Irvine on April 7, Decker hit the eventual game-winning homer, a two-run shot through light rain and dense fog to right-center field, handing the Bruins a 3-2 cushion. Decker has vaulted into a tie for 10th place on UCLA's career home runs list (38 homers, tied with Jim Auten). Additionally, the four-year senior has become UCLA's first player to hit at least six home runs in each of four seasons since current Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes belted 48 home runs from 1995-98.
UCLA's first 33 games featured 22 contests away from home. The Bruins have played among the most travel-intensive slates in the nation. After opening the spring hosting UC Davis (Feb. 20-22), UCLA spent three consecutive weekends away from the West - at the Houston College Classic (Feb. 28-March 1), at Oklahoma (March 6-8) and at East Carolina (March 13-14) - before returning to Los Angeles to open Pac-10 Conference play at USC. UCLA has just two weekend road trips remaining on its regular-season slate - at Oregon (May 1-3) and at Arizona State (May 22-24) - in addition to three non-conference games in southern California.
Senior second baseman Eddie Murray has thrived at the top of UCLA's lineup. He enters the weekend against Washington having batted .318 with a team-leading .486 on-base percentage, the third-highest mark among Pac-10 hitters. Murray leads UCLA with 30 runs, 26 walks and 10 hit-by-pitches, having started at second base in 32 games. Murray primarily served as a backup infielder his first three seasons at UCLA before earning the starting second baseman role at the start of the 2009 campaign.
Next week, UCLA plays at UC Riverside on Tuesday before returning home to open a three-game series against No. 14 Oregon State on Friday, April 24. UCLA's series-opening ballgame against Oregon State at Jackie Robinson Stadium will be televised on a delayed basis on FSN Prime Ticket. The Bruins' three home games against Oregon State will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. The following week, UCLA hosts Long Beach State on Tuesday, April 28, before playing at Oregon from May 1-3.
THROWING IN THE FINALE
Slated to start Sunday in the series finale, junior right-hander Charles Brewer has made eight starts and two relief appearances this spring, totaling a 1-4 record and 4.22 ERA. Brewer has tallied 43 strikeouts in 42.2 innings and has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his 10 outings. Brewer's 43-strikeout total is the third-highest mark on the team, behind freshmen Gerrit Cole (58) and Trevor Bauer (49). He has compiled a 1-4 record and 4.22 ERA as a junior. Brewer recorded a season-high eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings at Oklahoma (March 7), surrendering three runs and five hits.
Junior Blair Dunlap has logged a .284 batting average as the Bruins' starting center fielder. Dunlap leads UCLA with 12 doubles in 33 games and is tied with two other Pac-10 players (California's Michael Brady and Oregon State's Stefen Romero) for a three-way third place tie in that category. Dunlap ranks second on the Bruins' ballclub with 38 hits and is third on the team with 23 runs. The native of Mission Viejo, Calif., leads UCLA with 11 stolen bases in 15 attempts (fifth-most stolen bases among all Pac-10 players). Dunlap earned All-Regional Team honors at Pepperdine in 2006 and at Cal State Fullerton in 2008.
CLOSING THE DOOR
Junior left-hander Gavin Brooks has notched a team-high three saves this season. Brooks, who has compiled a 2.21 ERA in his last 12 outings (UCLA's last 22 games), recorded his first career save in the Bruins' first game at East Carolina (March 13). With one out and runners at first and second, Brooks recorded two strikeouts looking to lead UCLA to a 10-9 win. He entered the series finale against Arizona (March 29) with no outs and runners at first and second in the ninth inning. Brooks made a play on a groundout along the third base line before recording a strikeout to end the game, as UCLA won, 8-6.
GOT `EM SWINGING
Through Tuesday, April 14, UCLA's pitching staff ranks second in the Pac-10 with 310 strikeouts. Arizona State leads the pack with 319 and California follows with 299. UCLA is currently averaging 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings, the second-best average in the conference. The Bruins have recorded 10 or more strikeouts in 15 games. UCLA totaled a season-best 17 strikeouts in an 8-6 victory in the second game of a three-game series at East Carolina (March 13). In that contest, freshmen Gerrit Cole (12) and Trevor Bauer (5) combined for the 17 punchouts. UCLA ranks third in the Pac-10 with 111 strikeouts in conference games.
UCLA's 17-2 win at USC on Monday, March 23, 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. That 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 its crosstown rival since being swept in 2005 (tied, 2-2, in 2008).
Senior left-hander Brendan Lafferty has climbed up UCLA's career pitching appearances list. The oft-used reliever from Riverside, Calif., is currently tied with Mike Kunes (2000-03) for third-place in career appearances, having pitched in 88 games. Bill Wenrick (1984-87) leads the way with 119 games and is followed by Chuck Yaeger (1981-84), who appeared on the hill in 111 contests. Senior right-hander Jason Novak has moved into eighth place on the career appearances list, having pitched in 79 games at UCLA. Senior first baseman Cody Decker's 38 career home runs have pushed him into a tie for 10th place on that list with Jim Auten (1976-79).
MAJOR LEAGUE BRUINS
Four Bruins opened the 2009 season on major league rosters, and two former UCLA ballplayers began the year on the 15-day disabled list. Among those playing in the big-league ranks this spring include Garrett Atkins (Colorado Rockies), Eric Byrnes (Arizona Diamondbacks), Ben Francisco (Cleveland Indians) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia Phillies). Former UCLA standouts Troy Glaus (St. Louis Cardinals) and Casey Janssen (Toronto Blue Jays) have opened the 2009 campaign on the 15-day disabled list. UCLA also has two former players pitching at the triple-A minor league level - David Huff (Columbus Clippers, Cleveland affiliate) and Josh Roenicke (Louisville Bats, Cincinnati affiliate), who both starred at UCLA as recently as 2006.
IN HONOR OF JACK
A circular black patch with the initials "JG" adorn 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.