Feb. 22, 2007
One of the nation's most highly-anticipated series hits the southland this weekend when UCLA (6-5) and Cal State Fullerton (7-3) clash for a three-game series. The Bruins play at Fullerton's Goodwin Field on Friday at 7 p.m. The Titans take to the freeway on Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).
Last season, Cal State Fullerton earned a three-game sweep of UCLA. The Bruins dropped a 7-2 decision in the Friday-night opener at UCLA. Cal State Fullerton won, 3-1, on Saturday and captured a 12-6 victory on Sunday. More recently, the Titans lost at San Diego State, 8-7, last Tuesday, Feb. 20. Cal State Fullerton owns a 47-19-2 overall record against UCLA since 1975.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday - UCLA Tyson Brummett (RHP) vs. CSF Wes Roemer (RHP) Saturday - UCLA Matt Drummond (LHP) vs. CSF Jeff Kaplan (RHP) Sunday - UCLA Gavin Brooks (LHP) vs. CSF Sean Urena (RHP)
TYSON TAKES OVER
Senior Tyson Brummett (2-1) takes the mound for the Bruins Friday evening after having established himself as the staff ace in 2007. The right-hander boasts a 1.09 ERA and .167 opponent batting average after three starts. Brummett pitched 7.2 innings in the season-opener against No. 23 Winthrop (Feb. 4), threw 8.0 innings in a 1-0 loss at No. 5 Miami (Feb. 11) and hurled a complete game in UCLA's 6-1 victory over East Carolina (Feb. 18). The Salem, Utah resident has struck out 23 batters in 24.2 innings pitched, leading the Bruins in both categories.
UCLA FALLS TO DIRTBAGS
The Bruins dropped a 14-1 decision to Long Beach State Tuesday evening at Blair Field. Freshman left-hander Matt Drummond allowed three hits in 4.0 scoreless innings in his first collegiate appearance (and start). Five Long Beach State pitchers limited the Bruins to one run and five hits. Junior Brady Dolan slugged an RBI-triple to center field, and sophomore Cody Decker finished 1-for-3 with a double to left field. The Dirtbags added three runs in the fifth, three in the sixth and eight in the eighth.
BRUINS SWEEP EAST CAROLINA
Sophomore Cody Decker delivered a bases-clearing double as UCLA defeated East Carolina, 7-6, at Jackie Robinson Stadium Sunday to sweep the Pirates. Freshman left-hander Gavin Brooks (1-0) allowed two runs off six hits in 5.0 innings to notch his first collegiate victory. The Bruins edged East Carolina, 9-7, Saturday and won the series opener Friday, 6-1. Sophomore Brandon Crawford blasted a grand slam with two outs in the eighth inning Saturday to give UCLA a 9-7 lead. Senior right-hander Tyson Brummett pitched a complete game, recording nine strikeouts in Friday evening's 6-1 win.
CRAWFORD NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore Brandon Crawford has been named the Pac-10 Player of the Week, after recording a .533 batting average (8-for-15) in UCLA's four games, the week of Feb. 12-18. In three games against East Carolina, he hit 5-for-11 with eight RBI, four runs scored, three walks, one double and one home run. His eighth-inning grand slam with two outs Saturday propelled UCLA to victory. Crawford boasts a team-best .400 batting average (16-for-40) and has hit in 10 of UCLA's 11 games. The sophomore shortstop leads the Bruins in hits (16), RBI (13), total bases (28) and stolen bases (6).
NOVAK TO THE RESCUE
Sophomore right-hander Jason Novak has pitched effectively from the Bruins' bullpen in 2007. Novak has made four appearances, all in relief, and has recorded a 0.64 ERA in 14.0 innings. He registered the win in UCLA's 3-2 victory against UC Riverside on Tuesday, Feb. 13. Novak has limited hitters to a .167 batting average and has tallied 13 strikeouts, the second-highest total on the staff.
IN THE POLLS
UCLA has been ranked No. 15 by Baseball America in its Feb. 19 poll. The Bruins began the season ranked No. 13 by Baseball America and rose to No. 11 after winning two of three games against No. 23 Winthrop. UCLA is ranked No. 18 by Rivals.com and No. 27 in the NCBWA's latest poll. The Bruins were slotted at No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches preseason poll.
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 20 games against teams ranked in Baseball America's preseason 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. UCLA took two of three games from then-No. 23 Winthrop before dropping three at then-No. 5 Miami. The Bruins' next six games are against two teams currently ranked in Baseball America's top-25 (No. 10 Cal State Fullerton, No. 24 Mississippi).
WHAT'S NEXT - MISSISSIPPI
The Bruins hit the road to face Mississippi from March 9-11 in Oxford, Miss. Last season, the Bruins took two of three games from the Rebels. Ole Miss, of the Southeastern Conference, brings a 5-1 overall record into this weekend's three-game series against Wright State. The Rebels host Belmont on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and travel to Minneapolis, Minn. next weekend to face Arkansas, Minnesota and The Citadel (March 2-4). Ole Miss hosts a two-game series on Tuesday, March 6 and Wednesday, March 7 against Austin Peay before the Bruins head to Oxford.
Freshman Matt Drummond will make his second start of the season Saturday when he takes the mound against No. 10 Cal State Fullerton at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Drummond threw 4.0 scoreless innings against Long Beach State on Tuesday, Feb. 20. A 6-foot-1 left-hander from Paso Robles, Calif., Drummond was drafted in the 35th round of the 2006 MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
CARRITHERS IN THE CLUTCH
Junior Alden Carrithers has performed well in clutch situations this season. The transfer from UC Santa Barbara not only boasts a .351 batting average but has also tallied a .467 (7-for-15) mark with runners on-base. A talented second baseman, Carrithers is hitting .500 (6-for-12) with runners in scoring position and .800 (4-for-5) with a runner on third base and less than two outs. Last season, Carrithers earned All-Big West second-team accolades at second base and led the Gauchos in batting average (.342), runs scored (60), walks (45) and on-base percentage (.465).
Several Bruins and Titans share hometown connections. UCLA catcher Ryan Babineau and Cal State Fullerton's Josh Fellhauer and Travis Kelly hail from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., although no two players attended the same high school. Bruin infielder Nolan Rouse and Cal State Fullerton left-handed pitcher Paul Canedo are both from Diamond Bar, Calif. Titan right-hander Jeff Soulages and UCLA shortstop Brandon Crawford are both residents of Pleasanton, Calif.
BLACK AND BLUE
Not only has senior Tim Stewart been hitting the ball well early in the season, the ball has been exchanging the favor with the former Mater Dei High School slugger. Stewart has been plunked seven times in 11 games. The first baseman was hit once in game two of the Winthrop series and two more times the following afternoon. Stewart reached first base via a hit-by-pitch on Feb. 9 at Miami and once more in the series finale versus the Hurricanes. Last weekend against East Carolina, he drew a hit-by-pitch on Friday and Sunday.
WALLACE WATCH LIST
Sophomore shortstop Brandon Crawford has been named to the 2007 Wallace Watch List, the College Baseball Foundation announced in November. The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. Crawford joins nine other Pac-10 baseball players on the 2007 Wallace Watch List. 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.
WHO'S THAT MASKED MAN?
Sophomore catcher Ryan Babineau has shown off his arm through UCLA's first seven games. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. resident has thrown out five of nine attempted base stealers. Babineau has thrown out 20 of 47 attempted base stealers in his career at UCLA (42.5 percent). A freshman All-America selection by Baseball America in 2006, Babineau has not committed an error in 523 career chances (459 putouts, 64 assists). Last year, he caught 56 of the Bruins' 58 games and helped lead the pitching staff to the second-lowest ERA in the Pac-10 (3.77).
HOME SWEET HOME
Through 11 regular-season games, the Bruins have tallied a 6-1 mark at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA took two of three games from No. 23 Winthrop to open the season (Feb. 2-4), picked up a Tuesday evening victory against UC Riverside (Feb. 13) and swept East Carolina last weekend (Feb. 16-18). The Bruins' lone loss at home came on Saturday, Feb. 3 against Winthrop, 6-4. Last season, UCLA recorded a 19-12 mark at home. The Bruins have 23 home games remaining.
BIG LEAGUE BRUINS
As major leaguers report for spring training this month, nine former UCLA ballplayers have earned a spot on an MLB 40-man roster. Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Eric Byrnes (Arizona), Jeff Conine (Cincinnati), Ben Francisco (Cleveland), Troy Glaus (Toronto), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Adam Melhuse (Oakland), Dave Roberts (San Francisco) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia) will report to their respective teams training facilities as a member of the 40-man roster. Left-hander Jim Parque, who has not pitched in the major leagues since 2003, agreed to a minor-league contract with the Seattle Mariners on Feb. 2.
PAC-10 COACHES PICK UCLA FOURTH
UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches poll, the conference announced on Monday, Jan. 29. 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 the season third in the Pac-10 with a 13-10 conference mark (33-25 overall).
Baseball America selected UCLA as its preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 title in 2007. The publication projected the Bruins to join Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was selected to Baseball America's 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 in 2007. In its ranking of "best tools" within the Pac-10, Baseball America named Crawford as the "best athlete," "best defensive shortstop" and infielder with the "best arm." The publication listed Ryan Babineau 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."
ON THE FARM
Five former Bruins have been rated as the top prospects within their respective Major League Baseball organizations. Dave Huff, a key starter on UCLA's pitching staff in 2006, has been ranked the No. 10 prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization. Hector Ambriz, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2003, 2005-06), has been tabbed the No. 22 prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system. Wes Whisler, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2002-04), is rated the No. 29 prospect in the Chicago White Sox organzation. Ben Francisco (2001-02) and Paul Oseguera (2005-06) have each earned honorable mention prospect accolades (Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants, respectively).
WORTH EVERY PENNY
Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup since opening day and currently boasts a .345 batting average, the fourth-best mark on the team. The La Cañada, Calif., native delivered a clutch pinch-hit double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth in the season opener (Feb. 2). Penniall's double led to a dropped fly ball by Winthrop second baseman Phil Carey, off the bat of Ryan Babineau, and carried the Bruins to victory.
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 record. Crawford played in 23 games, starting 10, and recorded a .257 batting average (9-for-35), The sophomore shortstop collected two doubles, six RBI, seven runs scored, three walks and one stolen base.
Last season's .977 fielding percentage ranked first in the Pac-10. The 2007 team has tallied a .971 mark, having committed 12 errors in 415 total chances. UCLA returns five position players from the 2006 squad. Anchored by catcher Ryan Babineau, who did not commit an error in 445 chances last season, UCLA returns outfielder Blair Dunlap (1.000), first baseman Tim Stewart (.997), outfielder Tim Murphy (.950), shortstop Brandon Crawford (.949) and sophomore Jermaine Curtis (.908).
DON'T BE OFFENDED
After having ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in batting average last season, the Bruins return several reliable bats from 2006. Returning to the Bruins' potent lineup are Brandon Crawford (.318 avg, .297 Pac-10), Cody Decker (.302 avg, .450 Pac-10), Tim Stewart (.301 avg, .277 Pac-10), Blair Dunlap (.300 avg, .302 Pac-10), Ryan Babineau (.258 avg, .351 Pac-10) and Tim Murphy (.254 avg). Also returning to UCLA's lineup is third baseman Jermaine Curtis, who hit .336 as a freshman last year.
BRUINS TIE ALUMNI, 2-2
The 2007 Bruins tied the "Young-Timers" alumni team, 2-2, in a rain-shortened, six-inning contest Saturday, Jan. 27. Over 85 former UCLA baseball players showed up for the annual Alumni Day at Jackie Robinson Stadium, including former major leaguers Eric Karros and Don Slaught and current MLB players Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Casey Janssen (Toronto) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia).
COAST TO COAST
The 2007 schedule features games in three contentinal U.S. time zones - Pacific, Central (at Mississippi) and Eastern (at Miami). Overall, the Bruins will play at 13 different ballparks during the regular season, including Jackie Robinson Stadium. Aside from the trip to Coral Gables, Fla., and games at Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton, UCLA will play at Ole Miss (Oxford, Miss.), San Diego State, Stanford (Palo Alto, Calif.), USC, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Pepperdine (Malibu, Calif.), Arizona State (Tempe, Ariz.) and Washington State (Pullman, Wash.).
SEVEN MORE YEARS
Former Bruin Chase Utley signed a seven-year, $85 million contract extension through 2013 with the Phillies, the ballclub announced Sunday, Jan. 21. Utley, who broke into the major leagues in 2003 after Philadelphia drafted the second baseman as the second overall selection in the 2000 MLB Draft, finished his three-year career at UCLA with a .342 average, 41 doubles, four triples, 53 home runs and 174 RBI. Utley ranks fourth on UCLA's career HR list (53) and fifth on the all-time hits list (256).
OUT OF THE LINEUP
Sophomore infielder Jermaine Curtis has been ruled ineligible for the 2007 winter quarter because he did not meet NCAA requirements.