April 28, 2008
LOS ANGELES - UCLA opens a five-game week with two games against West Coast Conference competition. The Bruins play at Pepperdine on Tuesday before hosting Loyola Marymount at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Wednesday. UCLA defeated Pepperdine, 11-3, when the two teams met in Westwood on March 11 this season. The Bruins will send right-hander Garett Claypool to the hill Tuesday, and left-hander Matt Grace will make his first start on the mound in Wednesday's game against visiting Loyola Marymount.
Tuesday, April 29 - 3 p.m. - at Pepperdine's Eddy D. Field Stadium
UCLA's Garett Claypool, RHP, So. (1-1, 3.29) vs. Pepperdine's Matt Bywater, LHP, Fr. (6-1, 5.07)
Wednesday, April 30 - 6 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
LMU - TBA vs. UCLA's Matt Grace, LHP, Fr. (0-0, 2.84)
THE ROAD AHEAD
UCLA, currently amidst a stretch of eight games in 10 days, plays two midweek games before hosting No. 4 Arizona State this weekend. Four of UCLA's upcoming five games will take place at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Nine of the Bruins' remaining 17 regular-season games will be played on the road. UCLA has won each of its last four contests against Pepperdine, defeating the Waves, 11-3, on March 11, after having won all three meetings in 2007. UCLA boasts a 51-35-4 all-time record against Pepperdine since 1954. The Bruins last faced Loyola Marymount on May 17, 2005, when UCLA dropped a 6-1 decision at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Since 1961, the Bruins and Lions have split the all-time series, 43-43-1.
BACK FROM SEATTLE
The Bruins rebounded from a 5-2 loss at Washington on Friday, April 25, to win the final two games of the three-game set at Husky Ballpark. UCLA broke open a scoreless tie with a four-run sixth inning on Saturday and won, 8-1. The Bruins outlasted Washington, 4-3, on Sunday with a clutch three-run rally in the eighth inning. First baseman Casey Haerther finished the trip at Washington going 6-for-12 (.500) with one homer, five RBI, two doubles and two runs. Sophomores Charles Brewer and Gavin Brooks each picked up the wins on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to lead UCLA to its second Pac-10 series victory.
CRUSHING IT FARTHER
First baseman Casey Haerther ranks second on the team with a .344 batting average and has hit at a team-leading .417 clip in Pac-10 action. In four games last week, Haerther went 8-for-16 (.500) witih one home run, five RBI, three doubles and three runs. Haerther has registered seven home runs, tied for the team lead with Gabe Cohen, and team-highs of 15 doubles and a .596 slugging percentage. In UCLA's last 17 contests, the Chatsworth, Calif., resident has batted .468, totaling six home runs, 12 doubles, 22 RBI and 16 runs in that span. Haerther is also tied for the team lead with 34 RBI.
TOP OF THE CHARTS
Second baseman Alden Carrithers leads the Bruins with a .386 batting average after having started in all 39 games. Carrithers' .386 mark is tied for the fifth-highest average in the Pac-10. UCLA's leadoff hitter has also recorded top marks among Pac-10 performers with a .451 on-base percentage (tied, eighth), 61 hits (tied, fourth) and 14 stolen bases (third). The Portland, Ore., resident has recorded separate hit streaks of 11 games and 10 games this spring and has hit safely in 32 of 39 games. Carrithers has tallied four home runs, 34 RBI, three triples, 11 doubles, 18 walks and 33 runs this season.
Right-hander Garett Claypool will make his fifth start of the season when UCLA plays at Pepperdine on Tuesday afternoon. Claypool brings a 1-1 record and 3.29 ERA into the mid-week contest, after having received a no-decision against UNLV on April 22. In that outing, the sophomore from West Hills, Calif., hurled a career-high six scoreless innings and scattered three hits. In his four starts this spring, Claypool has registered a 2.04 ERA, 1-1 record and 13 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. Claypool made seven midweek starts (all on Tuesdays) as a freshman in 2007, logging a 1.82 ERA and 20 strikeouts in those appearances (29.2 innings).
Left-hander Matt Grace will make his first collegiate start Wednesday evening, when the Bruins host Loyola Marymount at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Grace, who hails from Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., has recorded a 2.84 ERA, totaling nine strikeouts and 11 walks in 12.2 innings. Grace has limited the opposition to a .209 batting avearge, allowing just four earned runs and nine hits in relief. In a resumed game against Cal State Northridge on April 15 (suspended, Feb. 26), Grace hurled two scoreless innings of relief, logging two strikeouts in the victory. In Pac-10 action, the left-hander has tossed two scoreless frames.
RUNNIN' WITH THE PAC
UCLA has registered a 6-6 mark in Pac-10 play, placing the Bruins fourth in the conference at the midway point. A logjam in the Pac-10 standings has bunched six teams within one game and a half of each other. Stanford and Arizona State, each at 10-5, are tied for the conference lead. Oregon State rests in third place with an 8-7 mark, and UCLA (6-6) controls fourth place. A three-way tie for fifth place features 7-8 Arizona, Cal and USC. After dropping two of three games to the Bruins, Washington has posted a 5-7 record in eighth place and stands two games ahead of 3-9 Washington State. Over the weekend, UCLA gained one game in the Pac-10 standings, as Arizona State swept Cal, and Stanford won two of three games against USC.
FOUR IN A ROW
Left-hander Gavin Brooks has earned the victory in each of his last four starts. Brooks has recorded a 5-2 record and 4.45 ERA in eight starts, collecting 49 strikeouts in 54.2 innings. The Vista, Calif., resident has limited the opposition to a .233 average. Brooks allowed just three runs (two earned) and seven hits in seven innings at Washington (April 27), as UCLA rolled to a 4-3 win. In UCLA's 8-2 win against Stanford on April 20, the left-hander allowed two runs and six hits in six innings, logging six strikeouts. In Pac-10 play, Brooks has registered a 3-1 record, 3.25 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 27.2 innings.
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 103-111 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 nine wins shy of his 200th career victory as a college baseball head coach (191-195-1 career record).
The Bruins have posted a 16-2 record when scoring five or more runs. When scoring three runs or fewer, UCLA has gone 1-11. 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.
Left-hander Matt Drummond has pitched well in his last three outings, limiting the opposition to one unearned run and seven hits in 9.2 innings. Entering the series opener against Stanford (April 18)with UCLA trailing 3-1, Drummond allowed one unearned run and two hits in four innings, recording a career-high five strikeouts. In an 8-2 win over the Cardinal (April 20), Drummond hurled three shutout innings in relief, recording his first collegiate save. In the Bruins' 8-1 win at Washington last Saturday, the southpaw hurled 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to earn his second save in as many chances.
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 (144), making 139 starts. Babineau has committed two errors in 1,151 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.
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.
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 21 appearances (all in relief), Lafferty has logged a 4.22 ERA and 1-1 record, totaling 40 strikeouts and 21 walks in 42.2 innings. In UCLA's 4-3 win at Washington on Sunday, Lafferty pitched two scoreless innings without issuing a hit. Lafferty recorded four consecutive strikeouts midway from the eighth inning through the bottom of the ninth and earned his third save. 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.
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 continues to nurse 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 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 online. All remaining regular-season games, including this week's five games, can be followed live through CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com.