March 3, 2008
LOS ANGELES - The No. 3 UCLA baseball team faces Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday and Wednesday evening (6 p.m.) in a rematch of last June's NCAA Super Regional. The Bruins (5-1), riding a four-game win streak, play at Fullerton's Goodwin Field on Tuesday before hosting the Titans (3-4) on Wednesday night. Last weekend, UCLA won each of three games in the inaugural Urban Invitational.
Tuesday, March 4 - 6 p.m. - Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field
UCLA's Dan Klein, RHP, Fr. (1-1, 1.35) vs. CSF's Jeff Kaplan, RHP, Sr. (1-1, 9.45)
Wednesday, March 5 - 6 p.m. - UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
CSF's Daniel Renken, RHP, Fr. (1-0, 0.00) vs. UCLA's Charles Brewer, RHP, So. (1-0, 3.48)
THROUGH SIX GAMES
UCLA has won five of its first six games for the first time since 2000, when the Bruins advanced to the LSU Super Regional. After splitting a season-opening doubleheader against Oklahoma during a rainy weekend (Feb. 23), the Bruins rolled to a 4-0 record last week with wins over UC Santa Barbara (5-4), Southern (11-2), Bethune-Cookman (2-0) and USC (4-3). The latter three games were played as part of the inaugural Urban Invitational, an event headed by Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy.
REMEMBER THE TITANS
The Bruins finished 1-4 in five games against Cal State Fullerton in 2007. The Titans won two of three games in an early regular-season series (Feb. 23-25) and swept UCLA in two games at the Fullerton Super Regional (June 9-10). Bruin center fielder Justin Uribe hit at a .471 clip in all five games against Cal State Fullerton, totaling three doubles and three walks. Shortstop Brandon Crawford registered a .364 average against the Titans, collecting a team-high five RBI, two doubles and two runs. UCLA last defeated Cal State Fullerton at Jackie Robinson Stadium on May 11, 2004, winning by an 8-2 margin.
GAELS ON THE HORIZON
Following a two-game mid-week bout against Cal State Fullerton, UCLA will host a three-game series against St. Mary's, a West Coast Conference competitor of which the Bruins have not faced since April 3, 1980. The Gaels own a 25-14 advantage in the series (unofficially, as records are missing from 1948-1954). UCLA regularly faced St. Mary's from 1928 through 1942. The Gaels carry a 7-1 record into Wednesday afternoon's game against Stanford. After splitting two games against Towson, St. Mary's has notched mid-week wins against UC Davis and Stanford and a four-game sweep of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
HE'S GOING THE DISTANCE
Junior left-hander Tim Murphy tossed UCLA's first complete game of the season, shutting out Bethune Cookman, 2-0, Saturday evening before a national television audience (ESPN2) at MLB's Urban Youth Academy. Murphy finished with 10 strikeouts, six coming against the first six batters he faced, and became the first Bruin since Hector Ambriz (Feb. 25, 2005) to fire a complete game shutout. Murphy scattered seven hits in nine innings without issuing a walk and lowered his season ERA to 0.53. Earlier in the week, Murphy tossed two hitless, scoreless innings of relief in a 5-4, 13-inning victory against UC Santa Barbara.
CARRITHERS IN THE CLUTCH
Senior second baseman Alden Carrithers contributed the game-winning hit in the 5-4, 13-innings win against UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27) and recorded a go-ahead, two-RBI double at USC just four days later (March 2). In four games last week, Carrithers posted a .438 batting average, collecting three doubles, one triple, two stolen bases, four RBI and four runs. The Bruins' team-leader in batting average one year ago (.352), Carrithers currently boasts a team-best .375 mark in six games.
TUESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Freshman right-hander Dan Klein will make his team-leading fourth appearance of the season - his first collegiate start - when he takes the hill at Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday evening. The former standout quarterback and pitcher at Servite High School (Anaheim, Calif.) earned two decisions in UCLA's season-opening doubleheader against Oklahoma. Klein gained the victory in game one and was tagged with the loss in the nightcap, allowing a run in two innings of relief. In UCLA's 5-4, 13-inning win versus UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27), the right-hander limited the Gauchos to four hits in 4.1 innings of relief, recording six strikeouts.
WORTH THE WAIT
Sophomore right-hander Charles Brewer made his first collegiate start Friday evening, leading UCLA past Southern, 11-2, in the first game of the Urban Invitational. After having missed more than two months of his freshman campaign with mononucleosis, Brewer hurled 7.2 scoreless innings against the Jaguars, recording six strikeouts and allowing just three hits. The Paradise Valley, Ariz., native pitched a no-hitter into the seventh inning before that was broken by a base hit up the middle with two outs. Brewer did not start for the Bruins during the season's first weekend, as UCLA's Sunday contest against Oklahoma was rained out.
Sophomore right fielder Gabe Cohen has belted a team-high two home runs in six games. Both round-trippers have been the difference in the ballgame. In UCLA's season-opening 7-5 win against Oklahoma, Cohen crushed a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Cohen broke a scoreless tie in the top of the seventh against Bethune-Cookman, drilling a full-count pitch over the left field fence for the go-ahead run.
Due to the rainout at Sunday afternoon's ballgame, Public Safety Day has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 9, when the Bruins host St. Mary's at 1 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium. All public safety officials can watch that game free of admission - additionally, those officials can get four family members into the ballpark for free that afternoon. UCLA resumes its trading card promotion at each home game this season.
ON THE WEB
All UCLA home games can be listened to and viewed online (streaming video) at uclabruins.com. Danny Lee and Tim Wilhelm have the call at UCLA's official athletics website. Lee enters his fourth season behind the microphone at Jackie Robinson Stadium, and Wilhelm returns for his second season with the Bruins. Additionally, audio broadcasts of UCLA's road series at Arizona (March 28-30) and Oregon State (May 9-11) will be carried live online. Nearly all of the Bruins' regular-season ballgames can be followed live online through CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com. All five games this week can be accessed via CSTV's GameTracker. The Bruins' three weekend games against St. Mary's will be broadcast on uclabruins.com - Jeff Knox and Ralph Irvin will have the call this weekend.
Two of the Bruins' three games have extended into extra innings. UCLA played a 12-inning game (L, 3-2) against Oklahoma in the nightcap of a season-opening doubleheader on Feb. 23. The Bruins outlasted UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings on Feb. 27, a game that lasted five hours and 35 minutes. Last season, UCLA did not play any extra frames. In the Bruins' two extra inning ballgames this month, UCLA's bullpen has allowed just three runs and 13 hits in 16.1 innings (1.65 ERA). The Bruins last played an extra inning game of 13 innings or longer on April 18, 2003, when UCLA won at Arizona State, 8-7.
THE ARMS RACE
UCLA's pitching staff has posted a 2.36 ERA in 61.0 innings (six games). In four games last week, the Bruins limited their opponents to a .229 batting average, recording 40 strikeouts in 40.0 innings. The pitching staff allowed just seven extra-base hits (six doubles, one triple) in 140 at-bats. Four pitchers each finished the week without having allowed any runs. Left-hander Tim Murphy hurled 11.0 scoreless innings in two appearances (one start). Right-handers Charles Brewer (7.2 IP) and Dan Klein (4.1 IP) and left-hander Justin Uribe (1.0 IP) also helped hoist zeroes on the scoreboard.
THROW SOME K'S
Bruin pitchers totaled 18 strikeouts in 13 innings against UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 27. No UCLA ballclub had totaled 18 strikeouts or more since March 25, 2000, when the Bruins fanned 18 batters in a 2-1 home loss to Washington. Right-hander Charles Brewer registered four strikeouts against the first five batters he faced in Friday's 11-2 win against Southern. Left-hander Tim Murphy, who finished with 10 strikeouts against Bethune-Cookman, struck out each of the first six batters he faced on Saturday evening. Murphy currently leads the Bruins with 17 strikeouts in a team-leading 17.0 innings pitched.
Redshirt senior outfielder Brady Dolan has been a consistent contributor through the season's first six games. Dolan, who has tallied a .300 batting average and scored three runs, has reached base safely in five games and registered a sacrifice bunt in the game in which he did not reach base. In his third season in the UCLA baseball program, Dolan has emerged as one of the team's most veteran leaders. In the team's season-opening win against Oklahoma, the Reno, Nev., resident hit 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI. Dolan led UCLA with two hits in a 2-0 win against Bethune-Cookman on March 1.
TAKING DOWN THE TROJANS
In a rare non-conference game between UCLA and USC, redshirt junior Brendan Lafferty helped keep the Trojans at bay, throwing five scoreless innings to earn his first victory of the young season. Lafferty scattered two hits in his third appearance of the spring and retired 12 consecutive hitters from the fifth through ninth innings. The 6-foot-4 left-hander from Riverside, Calif., induced 10 groundball outs (six in the final two innings to second baseman Alden Carrithers) and three fly outs. UCLA has now won the last six meetings between the crosstown rivals and the last four contests against USC at Dedeaux Field.
DEAN DOES IT ALL
Senior catcher Brent Dean started behind the plate in each of three wins over the weekend. In his first appearance of the year, the former L.A. Harbor City College standout finished 2-for-3 with a three-run home run and two runs. Dean finished the weekend hitting a .333 clip with three RBI, three runs and two hit-by-pitches. Likewise, Dean threw out all three attempted base stealers in the weekend's first two games. The veteran catcher, who has largely served in a back-up role to junior Ryan Babineau, has played in nine career games and has registered a .286 batting average in two seasons.
PROJECTIONS AND PREDICTIONS
Baseball America has tabbed UCLA as its preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 Conference. The national baseball publication predicts 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 have been tabbed preseason All-Pac-10 selections by Baseball America. The publication lists Rob Rasmussen as one of the five top newcomers and pegs Crawford and left-hander Tim Murphy as the second- and sixth-best pro prospects in this year's draft class. Baseball America lists Jermaine Curtis as the conference's best defensive third baseman and Brandon Crawford as the Pac-10's best defensive shortstop.
Junior shortstop Brandon Crawford has continued to earn preseason accolades. Crawford is one of 75 players to have been named to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List. At season's end, the Golden Spikes Award is presented to the top college baseball player. The Pleasanton, Calif., resident has also been named a second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America and a third-team preseason All-America selection by Louisville Slugger and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
'08 BRUINS RETURN INTACT
Seven of UCLA's eight All-Pac-10 selections from 2007, including three honorable mention awardees, return to the ballclub in 2008. In all, the Bruins return 22 letterwinners - seven starting position players are back in the lineup, and two weekend starting pitchers return to the mound. UCLA's infield welcomes back each starter from its 2007 campaign - Jermaine Curtis (3B, Jr.), Brandon Crawford (SS, Jr.), Alden Carrithers (2B, Sr.), Cody Decker (1B, Jr.) and Ryan Babineau (C, Jr.). Left-handers Gavin Brooks (So.) and Tim Murphy (Jr.) return to the rotation after having served as the back two weekend starters in 2007.
BACK TO WORK
Entering his fourth season at the helm of the program, 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.
THE POLL IN THE PAC
UCLA has been selected third out of nine teams in the Pac-10 preseason coaches' poll. The Bruins have been picked to finish behind Arizona and Arizona State, respectively. Arizona captured six first-place votes, and Arizona State picked up the remaining three first-place votes. Last season, UCLA was picked fourth in the preseason coaches' poll and finished third, with a 14-10 Pac-10 record.
Junior Cody Decker returns to the lineup this spring as one of UCLA's most potent offensive weapons. Last season, Decker totaled 14 home runs in 54 games. The Santa Monica, Calif., native hit two home runs in two games (March 30, at Stanford; May 6, vs. California) and handed UCLA a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Pepperdine in the Bruins' NCAA Regional opener. Decker became the first Bruin to eclipse the 10 home run plateau since Ryan McCarthy totaled 15 home runs in 2004. In 2002, Wes Whisler and Adam Berry each hit 18 home runs for UCLA. In his first two seasons at UCLA, Decker totaled 19 home runs, 70 RBI, 148 total bases and a .580 slugging percentage.
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 one collegiate catcher. Babineau has caught more games than any Pac-10 catcher (120), making 118 starts. He has committed two errors in 969 chances (.998 pct.), throwing out 33 of 83 attempted base stealers (39.8 pct). At the plate, Babineau has registered a career .268 batting average with 11 home runs, 62 RBI and 60 runs.
TWO DOLLAR TUESDAYS
All season long, tickets to Tuesday evening games at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium will cost just two dollars. The promotion begins at UCLA's first home Tuesday night contest, on March 11 against Pepperdine. Following that game, the Bruins will host San Diego State (April 1), UC Irvine (April 8), Cal State Northridge (April 15), UNLV (April 22) and San Diego (May 6) on Tuesday evenings at the ballpark.
Freshman left-hander Rob Rasmussen will miss 8-10 weeks with a fractured left foot (return expected early May). Rasmussen sustained the injury on a line drive comebacker in the third inning against UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27). Junior catcher Ryan Babineau is day-to-day with a hip flexor injury. Sophomore left-hander Gavin Brooks is day-to-day, nursing a blister on his throwing hand. Freshman outfielder Jeff Rapoport (shoulder) missed the 2007 season rehabilitating a shoulder injury and is expected back later this spring. Freshman right-hander Erik Goeddel and junior right-hander Tim Schlatter are both sidelined with arm injuries.
THE PROGRAM'S FUTURE
Head coach John Savage announced on Nov. 14, 2007, that seven student-athletes had signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period to attend UCLA and play baseball. These student-athletes will arrive on campus and enroll in the fall of 2008. Headed by assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Brian Green, the fourth recruiting class under Savage includes six position players and one pitcher. This group features three AFLAC All-Americans - infielders Chris Amezquita and Clark Murphy and right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole. All seven signees have earned all-league honors in high school and were Milwaukee Brewers Area Code Games selections. Cole and Cutter Dykstra have captured preseason first-team All-America honors and Murphy has earned third-team All-America accolades from Baseball America.
COACHING AT A HIGH LEVEL
Former Bruin and major league infielder Torey Lovullo enters his third season as the Buffalo Bisons manager (triple-A, Cleveland). Lovullo has led the Bisons to winning records in each of his first two seasons after having spent 13 years playing professional baseball. Former Bruin ballplayers Eric Valent (Williamsport Crosscutters, single-A, Philadelphia) and Jerry Weinstein (Modesto Nuts, high-A, Colorado) are also serving as coaches in the minor leagues.