Los Angeles, Calif. - The UCLA Baseball team returns home this Tuesday to play their final game before conference play starts this weekend as they will host the UC Irvine Anteaters at 6 p.m. out at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA leads the all-time series 49-28-1 over the Anteaters while head coach John Savage has posted a record of 15-7 against UC Irvine in his time at UCLA. Savage began his head coaching career at UC Irvine, coaching there for three seasons while leading the Anteaters to the 2004 Midwest Regional. The Bruins have won the last four meetings in the series, sweeping UC Irvine in the season series in both 2012 and 2013.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, March 11 - 6:00 p.m.
UCI – Evan Manarino, LHP, Jr. (1-0, 2.76)
UCLA – Grant Dyer, RHP, Fr. (1-2, 3.71)
Tomorrow’s game against UC Irvine will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at uclabruins.com. John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call live from Jackie Robinson Stadium. Fans can also follow the game online through a live stats link, which provides pitch-by-pitch updates on uclabruins.com. Links can be found on the front page of uclabruins.com on the events calendar or on the 2014 UCLA Baseball schedule page.
Freshman right-hander Grant Dyer will once again take the mound for the Bruins tomorrow night. Dyer made his collegiate debut on Feb. 15 against Portland, pitching a scoreless inning in relief in UCLA’s 12-1 win over the Pilots. In his first start against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 18, Dyer earned the win with five shutout innings while allowing just two hits and fanning three. In three midweek starts this season, he is 1-2 with a 4.61 ERA and seven strikeouts. In high school, Dyer was a three-year varsity letterwinner at Dana Hills High School in Laguna Niguel, Calif., posting a 6-4 record as a senior in 2013. He also logged a 1.24 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched, all while holding opponents to a .208 batting average against him. Additionally, Dyer tossed four complete games and walked only eight batters during his senior season.
UCLA took on a trio of opponents over the weekend in Pepperdine, Houston and USC. On Friday against the Waves, the Bruins lost a tight one, 8-7, at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Sophomore James Kaprielian dropped to 2-2 for the Bruins after suffering the loss, allowing seven runs on four hits in 5.1 innings pitched. Kaprielian struck out seven as well. Junior Shane Zeile had a career evening for UCLA, going 3-5 with a double and a home run. He also logged a career-high three runs scored and four RBI in the loss. Then on Saturday vs. Houston, the Bruins grabbed an early three-run lead but could not hold it, falling to the Cougars, 4-3. Senior Pat Gallagher went 3-4 with three singles and a RBI for the Bruins while freshman Luke Persico went 2-3 with a run scored and a RBI. Justin Montemayor led Houston with two hits and a RBI. On Sunday, UCLA traveled across town and was able to edge rivals USC at Dedeaux Field on the USC campus. Junior David Berg picked up the win with 2.2 innings in relief while Zeile led the Bruins at the plate with a 4-4 game that included two runs scored. His four hits in the game were also a new career-high. Sophomore Ty Moore reached base in four of his five plate appearances, recording two RBI in the process, while sophomore Christoph Bono knocked in the game-winning run in the top of the ninth with a RBI single.
UCLA’s pitching staff has picked up right where it left off in 2013 as the Bruins continue to string together great performances on the mound this season. UCLA as a team is third in the Pac-12 conference with 118 strikeouts while holding opponents to a conference-low .196 batting average. The Bruins have also allowed the fewest hits (94), second-fewest walks (41) and own the third-lowest ERA (2.82) in the Pac-12. Additionally, in the last two seasons, the Bruins are 47-2 when holding the opposing team to three runs or fewer. Last season, UCLA’s pitchers posted a team ERA of 2.55, which ranked second in the Pac-12 and sixth-best nationally.
ZEILE NAMED TO JOHNNY BENCH AWARD WATCH LIST
Last week, junior catcher Shane Zeile was named to the 2014 Johnny Bench Award Watch List, given out to the nation’s top collegiate catcher. Zeile is off to a hot start at the plate through the first 15 games, leading the Bruins and ranking second in the Pac-12 with a .431 batting average. Zeile has also logged a team-high six multi-hit games while leading UCLA with 22 total hits, 11 RBI, nine walks, a .549 slugging percentage and a .524 on-base percentage. His on-base percentage and slugging percentage rank third and fifth in the conference respectively. In addition, Zeile has reached base safely in his last nine games and has posted 11 hits in his last 20 at-bats (.550). Behind the plate, Zeile has handled a pitching staff that has allowed the lowest opposing batting average (.196) and the fewest hits (94) in the conference. Last season, Zeile started 57 of the Bruins’ 66 games, logging nine doubles and two home runs.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Since the start of 2010, UCLA has gone 105-47 in all home contests, good for a .691 winning percentage. The Bruins have also gone 37-20 in conference home games since 2010. UCLA has logged five Pac-12 home sweeps in the last four years (2010 vs. USC; 2011 vs. Washington; 2012 vs. USC; 2013 vs. Washington, Utah, Arizona) and six non-conference home sweeps (2010 vs. Nebraska, Oral Roberts, Cal Poly; 2011 vs. San Francisco; 2012 vs. Sacramento State; 2013 vs. Wright State). The Bruins went 27-9 at Jackie Robinson Stadium last season.
UCLA came in at No. 25 in this week’s Baseball America top-25 poll, marking the 39th consecutive week that the Bruins have been ranked in the top 25. The Bruins last dropped out of the poll on May 22, 2011. UCLA finished the 2013 season ranked No. 1 in each of the nation’s major polls. In the last four seasons, the Bruins have been ranked in the top 10 by Baseball America a total of 17 times. UCLA also concluded the 2013 campaign with an RPI of 9 and the No. 2 strength of schedule according to boydsworld.com.
Like Zeile, senior Brian Carroll is off to a strong start in 2014. The San Diego, Calif. native is batting at a .320 clip so far, scoring a team-high 11 runs. Serving as the leadoff hitter in every game thus far, Carroll has posted a .469 on-base percentage, good for eighth-best in the conference, and logged three doubles and three stolen bases. Additionally, Carroll has not committed an error in center field this season. His counterparts in right and left field are also contributing in the lineup. Sophomore Christoph Bono has batted .302 with three doubles, one triple and eight RBI. Bono has also logged five multi-hit games and is five for his last 11 (.455). Sophomore Ty Moore has batted .254 thus far, recording seven RBI, three doubles and a triple. Like Bono, Moore has been hot at the plate lately, going five for his last 12 (.417) and logging at least one hit in five of his last six contests.
PLAYING FROM AHEAD
In the last two seasons, UCLA has done a tremendous job of getting an early lead and then not relinquishing that lead. The Bruins are a combined 37-8 when they score first in the last two seasons and since the start of 2013 are a perfect 48-0 when leading after the seventh inning. Additionally, UCLA has a record of 21-4 in the last two seasons when scoring in the first inning.
TAKING THE HITS
UCLA has had at least one batter get hit by a pitch in 13 of its 15 games, bringing the Bruins’ season total to 23 batters hit by a pitch, tied for second-most in the conference. Brian Carroll leads the Bruins and the Pac-12 conference with seven hit by pitches while Christoph Bono has been hit four times. Ty Moore has been hit three times while Trent Chatterton, Chris Keck, Shane Zeile and Pat Gallagher have been hit twice. Luke Persico has been hit once. UCLA led the conference with 82 hit batters in 2013 and had a school record 104 batters hit by a pitch back in 2010.
All-American closer David Berg has enjoyed as fine a career as any reliever in the history of college baseball. In three seasons, Berg has made 113 appearances, which is already good for second-most in school history, and has posted a 14-3 record with a 1.33 ERA. Berg also owns the NCAA single-season record for saves with 24 in 2013 and tied the NCAA record for most appearances in a season with 51 last year. Additionally, he became the first reliever in conference history to win Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year last season and was UCLA’s first recipient of the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award, given out to the nation’s top relief pitcher. Berg was named to the All-Pac-12 Team for the second time in his career in 2013, making him just the 25th UCLA player all-time to receive all-conference acclaim at least twice. In addition, he finished second in the country in both WHIP (walks and hits allowed per innings pitched) with a mark of 0.85 and ERA last year. Finally, Berg is the only pitcher in UCLA history to lead the conference in ERA in back-to-back seasons and is UCLA’s all-time record holder for most postseason appearances (17), postseason saves (6) and career saves (28). This season, Berg has thrown 17.2 innings in 12 appearances while logging a 2-0 record, three saves and a 2.55 ERA. Berg has also won his last 10 decisions dating back to 2012.
UCLA has won 19 of its last 25 midweek games dating back to the 2012 season. The Bruins are also 20-7 in their last 27 games against Big West opponents. UCLA posted a perfect 9-0 record against Big West Conference foes in 2012. The Bruins went 7-4 in midweek games last season, defeating UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine on the road and Hawai’i, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine at home. This season, UCLA is 1-2 in midweek games.