March 9, 2009
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA baseball team returns to Jackie Robinson Stadium for two midweek games against No. 25 UC Santa Barbara (Tuesday) and San Diego State (Wednesday). The Bruins will turn to junior right-hander Garett Claypool against the Gauchos on Tuesday evening. Freshman right-hander Trevor Bauer is slated to start for UCLA on Wednesday.
SERIES VS. UC SANTA BARBARA: UCLA leads, 48-34
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: UC Santa Barbara, one win
SERIES VS. SAN DIEGO STATE: UCLA leads, 44-29-2
CURRENT SERIES STREAK: UCLA, one win
Tuesday, March 10 (6 p.m.)
UC Santa Barbara - Jesse Meaux, RHP, So. (1-0, 5.79)
UCLA - Garett Claypool, RHP, Jr. (0-0, 3.38)
Wednesday, March 11 (6 p.m.)
San Diego State - Ryan O'Sullivan, RHP, Fr. (0-1, 5.73)
UCLA - Trevor Bauer, RHP, Fr. (0-3, 3.65)
TICKETS AND RADIO
Admission to Tuesday's game at Jackie Robinson Stadium costs two dollars for adults and children, as part of UCLA's ongoing "Two Dollar Tuesday" promotion. UCLABruins.com will broadcast Tuesday's ballgame, live from Jackie Robinson Stadium. All home games this season, in addition to select road series, will be broadcast live on UCLABruins.com.
TWO WEEKS AGO
UCLA faces No. 25 UC Santa Barbara for the second and final time during the regular season on Tuesday evening at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Gauchos overcame an early 3-0 deficit to defeat UCLA, 7-6, two weeks ago (Feb. 24) in Santa Barbara, Calif. In that contest, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara each belted three home runs. Casey Haerther and Cody Decker connected with back-to-back homers in the top of the first inning to hand the Bruins a three-run cushion. Senior Eddie Murray followed in the sixth inning with his first collegiate home run, cutting the Gauchos' advantage to 7-5, before UCLA added one more run in that frame.
ABOUT THE AZTECS
San Diego State enters Wednesday evening's contest with a 7-6 record, having won its first three of four games last weekend against the University of San Diego. Brandon Decker leads the Aztecs with a .333 batting average (11-for-33) in nine games, and Pat Colwell has batted at a .300 clip in 13 contests, going 15-for-50 with eight runs. The Aztecs intend to start freshman right-hander Ryan O'Sullivan on the mound. O'Sullivan has gone 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA and five strikeouts in 11.0 innings this season.
Ranked No. 1 in strength of schedule by Boyd's World, a nationally-respected ranking service, the 2009 UCLA regular-season schedule is lined with three consecutive non-conference weekend series away from the West. Following trips to the Houston College Classic, Oklahoma and East Carolina, the Bruins will play nine weekends against Pac-10 opposition and a three-game non-conference set against Cal State Fullerton. In all, UCLA's travel schedule spans over 16,400 miles this spring, round trips included. The Bruins faced three top-10 teams two weeks ago at the Houston College Classic, hosted by the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
HITTING IT FARTHER
Junior corner infielder Casey Haerther currently leads the Bruins with a .396 batting average, having gone 19-for-48 to start the season. Haerther's career-long 19-game hitting streak came to an end against Pepperdine on March 3. The native of Chatsworth, Calif., had hit safely in each of UCLA's games dating back to May 16, 2008 (versus Washington State). Haerther is currently tied with Washington's Kyle Conley for the fifth-highest batting average among Pac-10 hitters (identical .396 averages). Entering Tuesday's games, Haerther ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in on-base percentage (.473) and is tied for third in hits (19) with Conley.
Senior infielder Eddie Murray ranks second on the UCLA baseball team with a .382 average and has been among the team's most productive hitters. Murray leads UCLA with 10 RBI, a .523 on-base percentage and a .676 slugging percentage. The veteran infielder from Artesia, Calif., ranks eighth in the Pac-10 in batting average, fifth in slugging percentage and fourth in on-base percentage. Murray belted his first career home run in a 7-6 loss at UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 24, finishing the game 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI. He has compiled two three-hit games this season, including a 3-for-4 effort on Sunday at Oklahoma.
Looking to snap a 10-game losing skid, the Bruins have suffered six one-run losses. In 12 games, UCLA has been outscored by a 70-60 margin and boasts a higher batting average than its opponents. Only one of the Bruins' 10 losses has been by a margin greater than three runs. Entering Tuesday's action, the Bruins rank sixth in the Pac-10 in batting average (.275) and earned-run average (4.60) and have logged the fifth-highest on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.411). UCLA's pitchers have registered 102 strikeouts, the fourth-highest total among Pac-10 teams.
CELEBRATING 90 YEARS
The 2009 baseball season marks the 90th year of UCLA baseball. The Bruins have fielded a baseball team every year since 1920, when head coach Fred Cozens led UCLA to a 3-10 overall record. In 90 seasons, the baseball program has seen eight head coaches and totaled 15 NCAA Tournament appearances. Most recently, the Bruins have logged three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths for the first time in program history. UCLA has totaled 33 wins each of the past three seasons.
LOOKING DOWN THE ROAD
UCLA takes flight for its third consecutive weekend road series this Thursday, when the team heads to Greenville, N.C., for three games at East Carolina (March 13-15). Two seasons ago, the Bruins swept a three-game series against East Carolina at Jackie Robinson Stadium (Feb. 16-18, 2007). UCLA's cross-country trip to East Carolina precedes winter quarter finals (March 16-20). UCLA will return to action when it opens Pac-10 play at USC's Dedeaux Field on Saturday, March 21 (2 p.m.).
PRIDE OF POLY
Sophomore left-hander Rob Rasmussen has emerged as the Bruins' Friday night starter. Rasmussen has logged a 2.81 ERA, totaling 10 strikeouts in 16.0 innings in three Friday evening starts. The former standout at Pasadena Polytechnic missed nearly 10 weeks of his freshman season after being struck on his left foot by a line drive in his collegiate debut (Feb. 27, 2008). Three weeks ago, Rasmussen tossed five scoreless innings to secure his first collegiate victory as the Bruins downed UC Davis, 13-1, on Opening Night.
Four Bruins earned Houston College Classic All-Tournament Team honors, as announced the evening of March 1. Representing UCLA on the All-Tournament Team were first baseman Casey Haerther (8-for-12), second baseman Eddie Murray (4-for-12, 2 RBI, 1 R), outfielder Blair Dunlap (5-for-12) and pitcher Gerrit Cole (6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 8 K). Rice's Ryan Berry earned Houston College Classic Most Outstanding Player accolades after having totaled 12 strikeouts in a complete game, two-hit shutout of Texas A&M on Feb. 28.
MAJOR LEAGUE HOMER
Junior outfielder Justin Uribe was the only player in any of UCLA's three games in the Houston College Classic to belt a home run at Minute Maid Park. Uribe connected for his first home run of the year in the ninth inning against UC Irvine on March 1. That marked the second homer Uribe has belted at a major league ballpark. As a senior at Foothill High School (Santa Ana, Calif.), Uribe ripped a game-tying three-run blast at Angel Stadium to lead Foothill to the 2006 CIF Southern Section Division II Championship against St. Francis High School.
Junior Blair Dunlap has excelled in the first 12 games of the season, posting a .370 batting average (17-for-46). Dunlap went 3-for-3 with one double, two RBI and one run in UCLA's season-opening 13-1 victory over UC Davis (Feb. 20). He went 2-for-5 with one walk, one run and one RBI in the series finale against UC Davis (Feb. 22). In a 5-1 loss to Baylor at the Houston College Classic (Feb. 28), Dunlap went 3-for-4 with one double. The resident of Mission Viejo, Calif., enters Tuesday's game against UC Santa Barbara with a seven-game hit streak. In 2008, Dunlap batted .250 before earning All-Tournament Honors at the NCAA Fullerton Regional.
EARNING HIS TIME
Senior Gino Aielli has broken into the Bruins' starting lineup after having gone 3-for-3 with two doubles in UCLA's final game of the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park (March 1). The utility infielder and catcher transferred to UCLA in the summer of 2007 and played in six games as a junior last spring. Over the weekend at Oklahoma, Aielli belted his first home run as a Bruin, a deep shot to left-center field beyond the 411-foot sign. The native of Laguna Niguel, Calif., enters Tuesday's game against UC Santa Barbara batting at a .333 clips with three doubles, one home run and two RBI.
Heralded freshman talents Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer have wasted little time making a positive impact on UCLA's pitching staff. Both Cole and Bauer were the only two pitchers named to the 2008 Los Angeles Times High School All-Star Team last spring, and rank first and third on the team, respectively, in innings pitched this season. Cole has collected 18 strikeouts in 15.0 innings, making three starts in weekend series. Bauer, who enrolled at UCLA in January after having graduated from Hart High School one semester early, has tallied 13 strikeouts in 12.1 innings. The right-hander from Valencia, Calif., has absorbed three losses despite a 3.65 ERA and .271 opponent batting average. Bauer is scheduled to start for UCLA on Wednesday evening.