April 16, 2007
Los Angeles - UCLA returns home Tuesday night to host Pepperdine (6 p.m.). The Waves have compiled a 28-11 overall record, highlighted by an 8-1 mark in the West Coast Conference. Last season, UCLA and Pepperdine split the regular-season home-and-home series. Pepperdine defeated UCLA in the NCAA Tournament Malibu Regional, 6-0, on June 3. The Bruins will send right-hander Garett Claypool to the mound, and Pepperdine's Adam Olbrychowski will start on the hill for the Waves.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
UCLA, Garett Claypool (RHP) vs. Pepperdine, Adam Olbrychowski (RHP)
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
UCLA has won 10 of its last 12 games, the program's best 12-game stretch since 2001...UCLA's 8-1 Pac-10 start is its best conference start in the modern era (through the first nine games)...The Bruins have won six-consecutive road games for the first time since 1997...UCLA has won six-consecutive conference road games for the first time since 1969...last weekend, UCLA recorded its first-ever three-game series sweep at USC's Dedeaux Field...three weekends ago, the Bruins swept Stanford at Sunken Diamond for the first time since 1991...Stanford had not been swept at home in its previous 71-consecutive three-game series (since 1997)...for the first time in program history, UCLA has won back-to-back three-game Pac-10 road series...UCLA's previous seven-game win streak began when UCLA scored a school-record 14 runs in the eighth inning to overcome an 8-0 deficit against Pacific (March 25).
Cody Decker has played a key role in UCLA's recent success. Aside from leading the team with nine home runs, Decker has tallied a .421 batting average in Pac-10 play and has tied Brandon Crawford for the team lead in RBI with 35. Last weekend, the Santa Monica, Calif., native blasted a home run in each of UCLA's three wins at USC. Sunday afternoon, Decker gave the Bruins a lift when he belted a grand slam to center with the bases loaded, extending UCLA's lead to 11-6. Through UCLA's last 12 games, Decker has posted a .404 average and has collected eight home runs and 30 RBI.
THE COMEBACK KIDS
The Bruins erased three four-run leads in Saturday's 7-6 victory at USC and battled back from a four-run deficit Sunday afternoon at Dedeaux Field. Saturday, UCLA trailed 4-0 after two, 5-1 after five and 6-2 after six innings. The Bruins used two runs in the seventh and a three-run rally in the ninth to outlast USC, 7-6. The following afternoon, the Trojans led 4-0 after three innings before UCLA added at least one run in each of the remaining six frames to defeat USC, 12-9.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Following Tuesday evening's game against Pepperdine, the Bruins host Cal State Northridge this weekend. UCLA will play at least 12 more games against top-25 teams, including Pac-10 foes Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon State. The Bruins play Tuesday night games at UC Riverside (April 24), UC Irvine (May 1) and Pepperdine (May 8). UCLA concludes its regular-season slate at home versus defending national champion Oregon State from May 25-27.
With runners at second and third and the Bruins trailing 6-4 Saturday, down to their last strike in the ninth inning, Brandon Crawford lined a base-hit to left field on an 0-and-2 count to tie the ballgame, 6-6, against USC. The sophomore shortstop scored from second base on the next at-bat when Cody Decker singled to first base. Crawford leads UCLA in multiple offensive categories, including a .363 average, 135 at-bats, 36 runs, 49 hits, 10 doubles, two triples and 78 total bases.
HE'S A PAC-10 GUY
Catcher Ryan Babineau has excelled in Pac-10 play, not only in 2007 but also in 2006. The sophomore backstop from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., leads UCLA with a .455 average (15-for-33) in Pac-10 play. Babineau has totaled four home runs, two doubles, 12 runs and 11 RBI in conference action. Last season, he tallied a .351 average (26-for-74) with three home runs, three doubles, 11 runs and 13 RBI in Pac-10 games before earning Freshman All-America honors from Baseball America. At USC last weekend, Babineau hit .545 at the plate (6-for-11) with three RBI and three runs.
According to Boyd's World, a national strength of schedule ranking service, UCLA faces the third-most difficult schedule in the nation this season. The Bruins play 19 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. Following last weekend's three-game sweep of USC, Collegiate Baseball has ranked UCLA No. 24 in the nation.
The Bruins have won seven of their last nine games, a span that has seen a major increase in offensive production. UCLA's hitters have hit .331 in the last nine games after opening the first 22 contests with a .263 average. The table to the right illustrates several other offensive trends.
WHAT'S NEXT - CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
UCLA hosts Cal State Northridge this weekend, beginning with a 6 p.m start on Friday, April 20. UCLA did not face the Matadors in 2006, but did win two of three games against the Big West Conference school in 2005. The Bruins have posted a 21-23-1 lifetime record against Cal State Northridge since 1975. Head Coach John Savage has collected a 4-8 versus the Matadors (at UCLA and UC Irvine).
BEST PAC-10 STARTS
After starting 5-0 in the Pac-10, 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. UCLA's 1967 squad began its AAWU slate with a 6-0 record. The Bruins have never started with an 8-1 record or better through their first nine conference games in the modern era.
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 a career-high 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.
MAKING MORE HISTORY
One weekend later, 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.
Sophomore shortstop Brandon Crawford has excelled under the lights in 2007. Through 17 night games, Crawford has posted a .391 batting average (25-for-64) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, 14 runs scored and 15 RBI. Freshman right-hander Garett Claypool has allowed three runs off nine hits through 15.2 innings at night, recording 16 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA.
BRUINS DIG THE LONG BALL
After having tallied just eight home runs through the first 22 games, UCLA has crushed 20 home runs through the last 12 games. In that 12-game span, Cody Decker has blasted eight long balls and Ryan Babineau has belted four round-trippers. Both Decker and Babineau registered a multi-home run day. Decker had two home runs in UCLA's 16-11 win at Stanford (March 31) and Babineau smacked two home runs in the Bruins' 11-2 rout of Washington (April 6).
WORTH EVERY PENNY
Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup since opening day and currently boasts a .328 batting average, the fourth-highest mark on the team. The La Cañada, Calif., native has been a great asset to the team as a starter and coming off the bench. Hitting 3-for-5 as a pinch-hitter, Penniall has totaled 21 hits, 10 runs, eight RBI, 24 total bases and four stolen bases in 22 games (15 starts).
BACK IN THE LINEUP
Sophomore Jermaine Curtis returned to the lineup at Stanford (March 30) after missing the first 24 games. Curtis was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the winter quarter. Curtis had an impressive debut for the Bruins, hitting 2-for-5 with a career-high four RBI in UCLA's 8-2 series-opening win at Stanford. With the Fontana, Calif., resident in the Bruins' lineup, UCLA has posted an 8-2 record.
JANSSEN BOLSTERS JAYS' BULLPEN
Former UCLA right-hander Casey Janssen earned a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen to open the 2007 season. In five relief outings, Janssen has limited opponents to two runs off six hits while striking out two. The former Bruin earned his first major league save Sunday, April 8, striking out one without allowing a hit in 2.0 scoreless innings.
BIG LEAGUE BRUINS
When Major League Baseball kicked off its season April 2, eight former UCLA ballplayers earned spots on a major league roster. 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) entered the 2007 season on their teams' respective 25-man opening day roster.
Sophomore Blair Dunlap and freshman Jeff Rapoport are unavailable to play due to shoulder injuries. Senior Nolan Rouse (arm) and Tim Stewart (hand) are also unavailable to play this week.
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).
A LOOK BACK IN THE PAC
One year ago, Jermaine Curtis led UCLA with a .390 batting average in Pac-10 play. As a freshman, Curtis started 17 conference games and played in 20. The Fontana, Calif., resident collected 14 runs, three doubles, two triples and 13 RBI. Ryan Babineau posted a .351 average in Pac-10 action, starting all 23 games. Babineau led the Bruins with three home runs in conference play, recording 13 RBI and 11 runs. UCLA's Hector Ambriz, Babineau and Dave Huff earned 2006 All-Pac-10 honors. Curtis, Brandon Crawford and Paul Oseguera captured All-Pac 10 Honorable Mention accolades.
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."
WALLACE WATCH LIST
Sophomore Brandon Crawford was named to the 2007 Wallace Watch List by the College Baseball Foundation in November. The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. The list of 148 ballplayers will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May. The selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals.
Playing a road schedule that has featured trips to Miami, Ole Miss, San Diego State, Stanford and USC the Bruins have traveled roughly 10,554 miles this season, round trips included. UCLA played at the University of Miami (2,744 mi.) in the second weekend of the season, traveled for a game at Long Beach State (35 mi.) and Cal State Fullerton (42 mi.), spent back-to-back weekends at Ole Miss (1,900 mi.) and San Diego State (135 mi.), opened Pac-10 play at Stanford (410 mi.) and drove to play USC (12 mi.). UCLA's remaining road slate includes trips to Arizona State and Washington State.
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.
STAYING IN THE GOLDEN STATE
The Bruins will play their next 13 games in California (10 home, 3 road) after having played their previous 17 in the Golden State. UCLA will play Pepperdine (1), Cal State Northridge (3), Arizona (3) and California (3). In-state road games will include UC Riverside (1), UC Irvine (1) and Pepperdine (1). The Bruins will not leave California until they play at Arizona State from May 11-13. UCLA will hit the road for consecutive weekends when playing at Arizona State and Washington State.
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.