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No. 17 UCLA Baseball Faces Long Beach State on Tuesday Night
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  02/27/2012

Feb. 27, 2012

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LOS ANGELES - The No. 17 UCLA baseball team hosts Long Beach State in a midweek matchup on Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins (4-3) split a pair of Tuesday night ballgames against Long Beach State (4-3) in 2011.

Tuesday, Feb. 28 - 6 p.m.
Long Beach State - Matt Johnson, RHP, Sr. (0-0, 0.00)
UCLA - Grant Watson, LHP, Fr. (1-0, 10.38)

Each game of UCLA's home games will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at In addition, UCLA will broadcast select road games throughout the season. UCLA's John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call live from Jackie Robinson Stadium on Tuesday as the Bruins take on Long Beach State. In addition, fans can follow online through GameTracker, which provides pitch-by-pitch updates of the game in progress on

Tickets to UCLA home baseball games at Jackie Robinson Stadium cost $7 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 16 and under). Parking on the West L.A. VA Grounds costs $8. Jackie Robinson Stadium is located on Constitution Ave. just west of the 405 freeway and Sepulveda Blvd. The Bruins have played at Jackie Robinson Stadium since the ballpark's founding in 1981.

UCLA hosts Long Beach State on Tuesday evening in the Bruins' second midweek contest of the season.  UCLA earned a 19-7 win at Cal State Northridge last Tuesday (Feb. 21), using a nine-run eighth inning to put the game out of reach at Matador Field. Last season, UCLA and Long Beach split a pair of midweek games with the home team winning each contest. Zack Weiss served as the Bruins' starting pitcher in each game, earning the win at UCLA (April 12) and getting tagged with the loss at Long Beach State (May 10).

The Bruins will turn to freshman left-hander Grant Watson as the starting pitcher on Tuesday night. Watson allowed four runs and five hits in three-plus innings as the starter at Cal State Northridge last week, throwing two scoreless innings before allowing two runs in each of the third and fourth innings. Watson has gone 1-0 with a 10.38 ERA in five appearances (one start), logging six strikeouts and six walks. Outside of the Bruins' three weekend starters, Watson leads the rest of UCLA's pitchers with 8.2 innings.

In seven seasons under head coach John Savage, UCLA has posted a 13-13 record against Long Beach State. UCLA and Long Beach State went 1-1 against each other in 2010 and 2011, with the Bruins going 2-0 in midweek action against the Dirtbags in 2009. In 2008, Long Beach State swept a three-game series in two days against UCLA. The Bruins advanced to their second NCAA Super Regional in 2007 by sweeping the NCAA Long Beach Regional that season. UCLA overcame an early 3-0 deficit to defeat the Dirtbags, 7-4, in the Regional final.

UCLA bounced back from a 15-3 loss on Friday night by defeating Baylor 9-3 on Saturday and 8-6 on Sunday. Jeff Gelalich led the attack at the plate for the Bruins, batting .500 (5-for-10) with one home run, two RBI and four runs. Pat Valaika went 5-for-12 in the non-conference series with five RBI and a key three-RBI triple. UCLA broke open a 3-3 tie on Saturday with a five-run sixth inning. The Bruins overcame a 6-4 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Sunday afternoon.

UCLA's junior class has stepped up at the plate this season, as four of the team's top hitters (by batting average) are currently juniors. Jeff Gelalich (.407), Trevor Brown (.391), Tyler Heineman (.381) and Cody Keefer (.357) have powered UCLA's offense. Gelalich, Brown and Keefer, in addition to juniors Beau Amaral and Cody Regis, played major roles on UCLA's 2010 College World Series team. Last season, that nucleus of players helped UCLA secure its first outright Pac-10 Conference title since 1986.

The Bruins went 3-1 last week, benefitting largely from its offense. UCLA's hitters posted a .341 batting average and logged a .438 on-base percentage in four games. Five of the team's eight hitters which collected at least 10 at-bats hit over .300. Trevor Brown posted a .533 batting average, going 8-for-15 with one triple, two doubles and five RBI. Jeff Gelalich batted .500 (7-for-14) with three home runs and five RBI. Gelalich did not strikeout in 18 plate appearances. Pat Valaika batted .500 (8-for-16) with one triple, three doubles and six RBI.

Jeff Gelalich became the first UCLA player to hit two home runs in one game last Tuesday since Cody Regis accomplished the feat on June 12, 2010. Regis crushed two homers in an extra-inning victory over Cal State Fullerton at Jackie Robinson Stadium in an NCAA Super Regional game. In fact, Tuesday's 19-7 win at Cal State Northridge marked the first time UCLA hit at least three homers in one game since June 5, 2010. That day, Gelalich, Regis and Dean Espy each connected with solo home runs in a 6-3 NCAA Regional win over LSU.

For the third straight season, UCLA will play USC at Dodger Stadium. This year's contest at Chavez Ravine will take place Tuesday, March 13, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. Earlier that afternoon, UC Irvine will face Pepperdine at Dodger Stadium at 2 p.m. The Dodgertown Classic began in 2010, with UCLA securing a 6-1 victory over USC before 14,588 fans. Last season, USC blanked the Bruins, 2-0. Tickets to this year's event cost $5 in advance (when purchased through UCLA's Central Ticket Office), or $12 when purchased on the day of the game. Parking at Dodger Stadium that day is free and concessions will be offered at a discounted price.

Head coach John Savage has produced 51 MLB Draft selections in his seven seasons at UCLA. Last June, right-handers Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh) and Trevor Bauer (Arizona) became the first and third overall selections in the MLB Draft. Three of Savage's pitchers have already been promoted to the major leagues (Hector Ambriz, David Huff and Josh Roenicke). Most recently, three-year UCLA shortstop Brandon Crawford was promoted to the San Francisco Giants in May 2011. Of the 51 draft selections, 16 have been selected in the first 10 rounds.

As major league Spring Training opens in Florida and Arizona this month, UCLA has 11 former players who have been invited to major league camp. Seven of those 11 players are currently listed on 40-man major league rosters. The full list of players includes Hector Ambriz (Cleveland), Trevor Bauer (Arizona), Charles Brewer (Arizona), Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh), Brandon Crawford (San Francsico), Ben Francisco (Toronto), David Huff (Cleveland), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Rob Rasmussen (Miami), Josh Roenicke (Colorado) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia).

UCLA's returning players account for 63 percent of the total at-bats from last season (1218 or 1936). Those veterans account for 64 percent of the team's total at-bats from last season (325 of 509). The Bruins return 30 percent of their total at-bats from the 2010 team (706 of 2362) and 32 percent of their total hits from that spring (229 of 718).

UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-12's preseason coaches' poll. Stanford, Arizona and Arizona State earned the top three spots, respectively. The remaining seven teams include (in order) Oregon State, California, Oregon, USC, Washington State, Washington and Utah.

In conference games over the last six seasons (2006-11), UCLA ranks second in both wins (91) and winning percentage (.599). Overall, the Bruins rank fourth in total wins (212) and fourth in winning percentage (.586). UCLA won the Pac-10 title in outright fashion in 2011 for the first time since 1986. The Bruins finished second in 2010 and earned a third-place finish from 2006 through 2009. Prior to UCLA winning the conference title last season, Arizona State had won the Pac-10 title the previous four seasons (2007-10).

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