March 10, 2008
LOS ANGELES - The No. 11 UCLA baseball team hosts Pepperdine on Tuesday, March 11, marking the Bruins' fourth consecutive game against a West Coast Conference opponent. Tuesday's game also features the debut of UCLA's "Two-Dollar Tuesday" promotion, where admission for all fans is lowered to two dollars. Sophomore left-hander Justin Uribe will make his first collegiate start in a rematch of UCLA's opening game at the 2007 NCAA Long Beach Regional. Last season, the Bruins won each of three games against Pepperdine.
THIS WEEK'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Tuesday, March 11 - 6 p.m. at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
Pepperdine's Matt Bywater, LHP, Fr. (2-0, 3.55 ERA) vs. UCLA's Justin Uribe, LHP, So. (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Thursday, March 13 - 6 p.m. at Cal Poly's Baggett Stadium
UCLA's Tim Murphy, LHP, Jr. (2-0, 0.38 ERA) vs. Cal Poly's Eric Massingham, RHP, Jr. (1-2, 4.22 ERA)
Friday, March 12 - 6 p.m. at Cal Poly's Baggett Stadium
UCLA's Dan Klein, RHP, Fr. (2-2, 4.20 ERA) vs. Cal Poly's Derrick Saito, LHP, Jr. (1-1, 4.60 ERA)
Saturday, March 13 - 1 p.m. at Cal Poly's Baggett Stadium
UCLA's Gavin Brooks, LHP, So. (0-0, 4.00 ERA) vs. Cal Poly's Steven Fischback, RHP, So. (2-1, 3.38 ERA)
BIG LEAGUE SCHEDULE
The Bruins are currently playing through a 19-day stretch featuring 14 games, the final four of which take place this week. The 19-game span began at Cal State Northridge (Feb. 26) in a game suspended in the eighth inning (darkness) with the Bruins leading, 22-2. The following evening, UCLA defeated UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings. That weekend, the Bruins played three teams in three days as part of the inaugural Urban Invitational. Last week, UCLA played a pair of games against Cal State Fullerton before closing the week with a three-game set against Saint Mary's. Following this weekend's series at Cal Poly, the Bruins enter finals week and return to the field Friday, March 21, against Long Beach State.
ABOUT THE WAVES
Pepperdine enters Tueday's contest with a 10-3 overall record. The Waves opened the season winning two of three games at home against Wake Forest and defeated UC Riverside in a Tuesday night game. Pepperdine defeated Tulane and Texas Christian in the first two games at the Minnesota Dairy Queen Classic before dropping the final contest to Minnesota. Last week, the Waves split two mid-week games against USC before sweeping a four-game weekend set against Ivy League foe Columbia. Eric Thames leads the Waves' offense with a .426 batting average, four doubles, three triples and four home runs.
THE READ ON URIBE
Sophomore Justin Uribe will make his first collegiate start Tuesday evening against Pepperdine at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Uribe, who has primarily spent his time as the Bruins' center fielder this season and last, made three appearances on the mound as a freshman in 2007 and earned the victory in one relief stint this year. The left-hander from Santa Ana, Calif., recorded two strikeouts in one scoreless inning against UC Santa Barbara (Wednesday, Feb. 27), as the Bruins downed the Gauchos, 5-4, in 13 innings. Similar to junior left-hander Tim Murphy, Uribe joined the baseball team as a talented two-way player and contributed extensively in the outfield as a freshman (Murphy did not take the mound until early in his sophomore year).
CARRITHERS IN THE CLUTCH
Senior second baseman Alden Carrithers has posted a team-leading .390 batting average through UCLA's first 11 games. Carrithers, who led the Bruins hitting at a .352 clip last season, boasts a .500 on-base percentage this spring (16 hits, seven walks and two hit-by-pitches). The Portland, Ore., resident registered the game-winning hit in a 5-4, 13-inning victory over UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27) and recorded a go-ahead, two-RBI double at USC just four days later (March 2). In five games last week, Carrithers posted a .412 batting average, registering three stolen bases, five runs and three walks.
BABINEAU COMES THROUGH
Junior catcher Ryan Babineau delivered a two-RBI pinch-hit double in Saturday's 7-6 victory over St. Mary's, breaking a 5-5 tie to hand UCLA the lead. Babineau had missed the previous six games with a hip flexor injury before providing the key hit in Saturday's game. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., resident has not started the past eight games, yet did play late in the ballgame on Saturday and Sunday against St. Mary's. Babineau has played in more games than any Pac-10 catcher (122), totaling 118 starts. One of the team's three captains, Babineau has thrown out 33 of 83 attempted base stealers in his career (39.8 percent).
MURPHY MAKES IT COUNT
Junior Tim Murphy will make his fourth start of the season, his fifth appearance on the hill, this Thursday. Murphy, a 6-foot-2 left-hander from Vista, Calif., has registered a 19.1 scoreless innings streak, dating back to UCLA's season-opening doubleheader (Feb. 23). Last Friday, Murphy recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts, limiting St. Mary's to one hit in seven scoreless innings. The Bruins last fired a one-hitter May 14, 2000, in a 10-0 win against Arizona. The junior left-hander earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors on Tuesday, March 4, after having thrown 11.0 scoreless innings the previous week. Murphy hurled a complete game shutout against Bethune-Cookman (March 1), totaling 10 strikeouts in the 2-0 win. That effort marked the first complete game shutout by a Bruin since Feb. 25, 2005, when Hector Ambriz blanked Pacific.
THE ARMS RACE
UCLA's pitching staff has posted a 3.51 ERA in 105.0 innings. Left-hander Tim Murphy has led the charge with a team-best 0.38 ERA in 24.0 innings. Junior left-hander Brendan Lafferty has logged a 2.81 ERA in 16.0 innings (five relief appearances), totaling 11 strikeouts. Freshman right-hander Dan Klein has totaled a 2-2 record and 4.20 ERA in five games (one start). Freshman left-hander Matt Grace has limited the opposition to one run and two hits in 3.2 innings (three relief appearances). Opponents are hitting the Bruins' pitching staff at a .253 clip.
Two of the Bruins' first three games this season 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 season, UCLA's bullpen 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.
Freshman right-hander Dan Klein has earned four decisions in the Bruins' first 11 games. Klein has logged a 4.20 ERA in 15.0 innings. In UCLA's season-opening doubleheader, Klein earned the victory in game one and was tagged with the loss in game two early that evening. Klein made his first collegiate start on Tuesday, March 4, against Cal State Fullerton, absorbing the loss after allowing six runs (five earned) in 5.1 innings. The freshman pitcher evened his record to 2-2 on Saturday, limiting St. Mary's to one run and four hits in three innings of relief. Klein was a three-year varsity baseball letterwinner and three-year starting quarterback at Servite High School (Anaheim, Calif.), receiving several offers from Pac-10 schools to play football.
THROW SOME K'S
Bruin pitchers recorded 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. Left-hander Tim Murphy has struck out 21 batters in his last two starts (10 vs. Bethune-Cookman, 11 vs. Saint Mary's). Collectively, the UCLA pitching staff has logged 95 strikeouts in 105.0 innings. Freshman left-hander Dan Klein ranks second with 13 strikeouts in 15.0 innings.
Redshirt senior outfielder Brady Dolan has been a consistent contributor through the season's first 11 games. Dolan, who has tallied a .250 batting average and scored three runs, hit safely in four of the Bruins' first six games. In his third season with 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, Dolan 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. A proud native of Reno, Nev., Dolan arrived at UCLA in the fall of 2005 after having spent the 2004 season at UC Irvine (under then-head coach John Savage) and 2005 at Sierra College (Citrus Heights, Calif.).
TAKING DOWN THE TROJANS
In a rare non-conference game between UCLA and USC on Sunday, March 2, redshirt junior Brendan Lafferty helped keep the Trojans at bay, throwing five scoreless innings to earn his first victory of the 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.
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).
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, this week against Pepperdine. Following this week's Tuesday contest, 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. Upcoming trading cards to be featured at Tuesday's game include Raul Duran and Jeff Rapoport.
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.
MARCH-ING THROUGH THE SEASON
Following this weekend's three-game series at Cal Poly, the Bruins enter finals week (winter quarter) before playing three games in two days against Long Beach State (March 21-22). The Bruins host the 49ers on Friday at 6 p.m. before traveling to Long Beach State's Blair Field for a Saturday afternoon doubleheader. The next week, UCLA plays a Tuesday evening game at San Diego State. The weekend of March 28-30, the Bruins open Pac-10 play with a three-game series at Arizona.
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). 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.
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), Oregon State (May 9-11) and California (May 23-25) will be carried live online. Nearly all of the Bruins' regular-season ballgames can be followed live through CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com. All three games this weekend can be accessed via CSTV's GameTracker.
ON THE HORIZON
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.
Eight former Bruin ballplayers enter spring training on major league rosters. In 2007, nine former Bruins played in the major leagues. Most recently, former UCLA infielder Garrett Atkins and the Colorado Rockies avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $4.3875 million contract. Following the All-Star break last season, Atkins hit at a .349 clip to lead Colorado to its first-ever appearance in the World Series. In January, former Bruin Troy Glaus was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for third baseman Scott Rolen. Outfielder Eric Byrnes returns for his third full season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team he helped lead to the 2007 National League Championship Series against Colorado.
MOVIN' ON UP
Last summer, 17 former Bruins competed in minor league baseball - 11 of those players were drafted under head coach John Savage. This month, three former Bruins who played at UCLA in either of the past two years began their seasons in big-league camp. Right-handers Hector Ambriz (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Josh Roenicke (Cincinnati Reds) starred on the Bruins' 2006 NCAA Regional squad before getting drafted that June. Right-hander Brant Rustich was drafted in the second round of the 2007 MLB Draft and opened spring training in big-league camp with the New York Mets. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was assigned to minor league camp on March 7. Roenicke has pitched two scoreless innings through two appearances in Florida, recording two strikeouts and one save.
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.
MARK THE CALENDAR
UCLA's game at Cal State Northridge on Tuesday, Feb. 26, was suspended in the middle of the 8th inning due to darkness. The remainder of that game (beginning at the start of the bottom of the 8th) will resume on Tuesday, April 15 at UCLA (4:30 p.m.). Both teams are scheduled to play that evening at 6 p.m. at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium. Should the remainder of the suspended game extend past 5:30 p.m., the second game will begin 30 minutes at the conclusion of the first. UCLA currently leads Cal State Northridge in the suspended contest, 22-2. Statistics from the game do not become official until its conclusion on April 15.