April 26, 2007
LOS ANGELES - UCLA opens a three-game Pac-10 series against Arizona on Friday at 6 p.m. The Bruins enter the weekend in first place in the Pac-10 with an 8-1 conference record. Arizona (31-9, 9-3) currently occupies third place in the Pac-10. Last season, UCLA won two of three games at Arizona's Frank Sancet Stadium (April 13-15). Tim Stewart led the Bruins' charge with a 6-for-10 effort at the plate. UCLA owns an 81-74 lifetime record against Arizona, including a 47-31 mark at home.
All three games can be listened to on UCLA's Internet radio broadcast (uclabruins.com). Danny Lee and Tim Wilhelm will call the action live. Each game can be followed online via CSTV's GameTracker, which provides live updates, in-game play-by-play and statistics. Any working media who plan on covering any of the three games against between UCLA and Arizona should contact Alex Timiraos in the UCLA sports information office at (310) 206-4008.
The Bruins' seven-game win streak ended Tuesday evening, when UCLA dropped a 3-1 decision at UC Riverside. UCLA had won its previous six road games (three-game sweeps at Stanford and USC). Ryan Babineau led the Bruins offensively, as he posted a 3-for-3 effort. Left-hander Brendan Lafferty allowed two unearned runs in 2.2 innings of relief, and right hander Garett Claypool limited the Highlanders to one run off two hits in three innings.
UCLA finished last week with a perfect 4-0 record, posting a Tuesday-night win over No. 11 Pepperdine before winning three games against Cal State Northridge in two days. The Bruins' Friday evening series opener against the Matadors was rained out. One day later, UCLA cruised past Cal State Northridge in game one, 8-3, before using a ninth-inning rally to defeat the Matadors, 6-5, in game two. The Bruins staged another late rally Sunday afternoon to knock off Cal State Northridge, 12-8.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
UCLA has won 14 of its last 17 games, the program's best 17-game stretch since 1997...UCLA's 8-1 Pac-10 start is its best conference start in the modern era (through the first nine games)...the Bruins have won eight of their last 10 home games and boast a 14-7 record at home...UCLA has won six-consecutive conference road games for the first time since 1969...from April 13-15, UCLA recorded its first-ever three-game series sweep at USC's Dedeaux Field...from March 30-April 1, the Bruins swept Stanford at Sunken Diamond for the first time since 1991...Stanford had not been swept at home in its previous 71-consecutive three-game series (since 1997)...for the first time in program history, UCLA has won back-to-back three-game Pac-10 road series...UCLA's 14-3 stretch began when the Bruins scored a school-record 14 runs in the eighth inning to overcome an 8-0 deficit against Pacific (March 25).
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Senior right-hander Tyson Brummett will make his 12th start of the season Friday night, bringing a 7-4 record and a 2.83 ERA into the series opener. Brummett has earned victories in each of his last four starts. The Salem, Utah, native has tossed five complete games (including two in Pac-10 contests) and leads UCLA with 77 strikeouts in 89.0 innings pitched this season. Brummett has also made two relief appearances for the Bruins in Tuesday evening contests (April 10, April 17).
THE HOT CORNER
With third baseman Jermaine Curtis in the lineup, the Bruins have posted a 12-3 record. Curtis has recorded a .328 average with 14 RBI through 15 games. Last weekend, Curtis registered a .545 batting average (6-for-11) with a team-leading five runs scored and two RBI. The Fontana, Calif., resident hit 3-for-4 in each of UCLA's final two games against the Matadors. In game two of Saturday's afternoon doubleheader, Curtis scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
THE COMEBACK KIDS
In UCLA's final two games versus Cal State Northridge, the Bruins rallied from late deficits. UCLA trailed by two in the eighth inning of game two, before winning in the ninth inning. On Sunday, the Bruins trailed 8-6 in the sixth and won, 12-8. One week earlier, UCLA scored three in the top of the ninth at USC to win, 7-6 (April 14). The Bruins' greatest comeback took place against Pacific (March 25), when UCLA scored a school-record 14 runs in the eighth to overcome a 8-1 deficit and win 15-8.
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 19 games against teams currently ranked in Baseball America's 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. Currently, UCLA is ranked No. 18 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 25 by Baseball America.
The Bruins have won 14 of their last 17 games, a span that has seen an increase in offensive production. UCLA's hitters have hit .331 in the last 17 games after opening the first 22 contests with a .263 average.
ON DECK - UC IRVINE, CALIFORNIA
UCLA plays at UC Irvine on Tuesday, May 1, and will host California next weekend (May 4-6). The Bruins dropped a 5-4 decision to the Anteaters on Tuesday, April 10. Last season, the Bruins lost two of three games at California. UCLA won the Friday contest, 4-2, before losing on Saturday and Sunday.
HE'S A PAC-10 GUY
Catcher Ryan Babineau has excelled in Pac-10 play, not only in 2007 but also in 2006. The sophomore backstop from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., leads UCLA with a .455 average (15-for-33) in Pac-10 play. Babineau has totaled four home runs, two doubles, 12 runs and 11 RBI in conference action. Last season, he tallied a .351 average (26-for-74) with three home runs and 11 RBI in Pac-10 action.
Cody Decker has hit .373 (22-for-59) in UCLA's last 14 games, belting eight home runs and totaling 28 RBI and 11 runs in that span. Decker earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for the week of April 9-15 after hitting .538 at USC. Last weekend against Cal State Northridge, the Santa Monica, Calif., native blasted his team-leading 10th home run.
Freshman Garett Claypool allowed one run off two hits in three innings on Tuesday at UC Riverside. On April 17, Claypool pitched five scoreless innings to lead UCLA past No. 11 Pepperdine, 6-2. The right-hander has tallied a 1.83 ERA in his five starts this season, limiting opponents to four earned runs and 13 hits in 19.2 innings. Claypool has also made 11 relief appearances for UCLA.
BEST PAC-10 STARTS
The Bruins have never started with an 8-1 record or better through their first nine conference games in the modern era. After starting 5-0 in the Pac-10 over three weeks ago, UCLA was off to its best conference start since 1977, when the Bruins began their Pac-8 schedule with a 5-0 mark before ending the season 10-8 in the conference. UCLA's 1967 squad began its AAWU slate with a 6-0 record.
The Bruins made history on Sunday, March 25 against Pacific. Trailing 8-1 in the eighth, UCLA posted a school-record 14-run inning to defeat the Tigers, 15-8. Sophomore Cody Decker inititated the Bruins' heroics with a grand slam and finished with five RBI. UCLA had previously scored 13 runs in one inning - versus Winthrop on Feb. 4, 2007 and against Arizona State on Feb. 28, 1997.
MAKING MORE HISTORY
One weekend after the series win against Pacific, UCLA became the first team to sweep Stanford at Sunken Diamond in a three-game regular-season series since Arizona State accomplished the feat in 1997. Stanford had not been swept at home in its previous 71 home series. UCLA had not swept the Cardinal on the road since 1991 and had not swept a series against Stanford since 1997.
Sophomores Jermaine Curtis and Brandon Crawford have excelled under the lights in 2007. Curtis is hitting .385 (10-for-26) with nine RBI and five runs in seven night games. Through 19 night contests, Crawford has posted a .380 batting average (27-for-71) with six doubles, one triple, three home runs, 14 runs scored, 15 RBI and five stolen bases.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup since opening day and currently boasts a .347 batting average, the second-highest mark on the team. The La Cañada, Calif., native has been a great asset to the team as a starter and coming off the bench. Hitting 3-for-6 as a pinch-hitter, Penniall has totaled 26 hits, 14 runs, 12 RBI, 33 total bases and four stolen bases in 25 games (18 starts).
BIG LEAGUE BRUINS
When Major League Baseball kicked off its season April 2, eight former UCLA ballplayers earned spots on a major league roster. Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Eric Byrnes (Arizona), Jeff Conine (Cincinnati), Troy Glaus (Toronto), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Adam Melhuse (Oakland), Dave Roberts (San Francisco) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia) entered the 2007 season on their teams' respective 25-man opening day roster.
Sophomore Blair Dunlap and freshman Jeff Rapoport are unavailable to play due to shoulder injuries. Senior Nolan Rouse (arm) and Tim Stewart (hand) are also unavailable to play this week.
PAC-10 COACHES PICK UCLA FOURTH
UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches poll. 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 third in the Pac-10 with a 13-10 conference mark (33-25 overall).
UCLA's Jason Novak and Arizona's Jason Stoffel played baseball at Agoura High. Novak, Stoffel and Bruin outfielder Jeff Rapoport played Pony baseball together and were all members of the Agoura Patriots team that competed in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 2000. UCLA's Justin Uribe and Arizona's Matt Koerner were teammates at Foothill High in Santa Ana, Calif. Bruin right-hander Charles Brewer played baseball at Chaparral High in Scottsdale, Ariz. with Arizona's John Murphy. UCLA's Mickey Weisser and Arizona's Preston Guilmet and Bill Rhinehart all hail from Citrus Heights, Calif.