Los Angeles, Calif. - The UCLA Baseball team will conclude its eight-game road trip this weekend with a three-game series at Utah from Thursday, April 17 to Sunday, April 19 at Smith’s Ballpark. Game times are 4 p.m. PT, 4 p.m. PT and 11 a.m. PT respectively.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Thursday, April 17 - 4 p.m. PT
UCLA – James Kaprielian, RHP, So. (5-3, 2.20)
UTAH – Dalton Carroll, RHP, So. (1-3, 5.40)
Friday, April 18 - 4 p.m. PT
UCLA – Grant Watson, LHP, Jr. (4-4, 3.02)
UTAH – Mitch Watrous, RHP, Jr. (1-4, 3.57)
Saturday, April 19 - 11 a.m. PT
UCLA – Cody Poteet, RHP, So. (2-2, 4.64)
UTAH – Zach Adams, RHP, Sr. (0-1, 2.01)
UCLA VS. UTAH
UCLA and Utah have only met on the baseball diamond 15 times, with the Bruins having won 13 of those meetings. The Bruins have won the last six meetings in the series and have not lost a game to the Utes since Utah joined the Pac-12 Conference in 2012. In addition, head coach John Savage has an all-time record of 6-1 against Utah. Last season, UCLA swept the Utes at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins won the first two games by scores of 5-2 and 5-4 respectively before winning the series finale, 4-3, on a walkoff sacrifice fly by Justin Hazard. David Berg earned saves for the Bruins in each of the first two games before picking up the win in the series finale last year.
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY’S GAMES TO BE TELEVISED LIVE
Thursday and Friday’s games will be nationally televised live by the Pac-12 Networks. Roxy Bernstein and Kevin Stocker will have the call for both games. UCLA has made four appearances already on the Pac-12 Networks and will make 17 total appearances on the Pac-12 Networks this year. The Bruins will appear on ESPNU one more time after having Saturday’s game at Arizona televised live by the network. In addition, eight of the 19 total TV appearances for UCLA will come at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
All three of UCLA's games at Utah this weekend will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at uclabruins.com. John Ramey will have the call live from Smith's Ballpark in Salt Lake City. Fans can also follow all three games 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.
NO. 1 STARTER
Sophomore right-hander James Kaprielian will take the mound for the Bruins on Thursday night in the series opener. After earning freshman All-America honors from Perfect Game USA and Collegiate Baseball in 2013, Kaprielian has continued that success into 2014, posting a 5-3 record with a 2.20 ERA and a team-high 61 strikeouts. His 61 strikeouts are good for second-most in the conference and 28th-most in the nation. In addition, Kaprielian’s 2.20 ERA is the lowest amongst all UCLA starting pitchers (10th-best in the Pac-12) and his 61.1 innings pitched leads all UCLA pitchers (fourth-most in the Pac-12). Kaprielian has also held opposing hitters to a .187 batting average against him, the fourth-lowest opposing average in the Pac-12, and has allowed two runs or less in seven of his nine starts this season. In addition, Kaprielian has not allowed a run in his last 21 innings pitched and in his last three starts is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 19 strikeouts.
Earlier this week, Kaprielian was selected to compete for the 2014 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team this summer. He is the eighth UCLA selection to the Collegiate National Team in the last six years and the ninth selection under head coach John Savage. Kaprielian also becomes the 14th UCLA player to compete for the USA Baseball National Team all-time. Additionally, he is the third UCLA pitcher to play for the team in the last three years, joining previous UCLA selections David Berg and Adam Plutko, and the fifth UCLA pitcher in the last six years, joining Berg, Plutko, Gerrit Cole (2009-10) and Trevor Bauer (2009). This is also the 18th time that UCLA Baseball has sent a player to play for the USA Baseball National Team.
GAME TWO STARTER
Junior left-hander Grant Watson will start game two of the series on Friday night for the Bruins. Watson is 4-4 in nine starts this season, striking out 44 batters in 59.2 innings pitched while posting a 3.02 ERA. Additionally, he is holding opponents to a .225 batting average against him, the 11th-lowest in the Pac-12 and his 44 strikeouts are the ninth-most in the conference. Finally, in his career Watson has logged a 21-8 record as a starter and has pitched at least six innings in seven of his nine starts this season.
CLOSING OUT THE SERIES
Sophomore right-hander Cody Poteet will start for the Bruins on Saturday afternoon in the series finale. Poteet served as UCLA’s midweek starter in 2013, posting a 4-6 overall record with a 4.84 ERA. He struck out 56 batters in 2013 and this past summer played with the Walla Walla Sweets of the West Coast League, being selected as one of the league’s All-Stars. This season, he is 2-2 through nine starts, logging an ERA of 4.64 while striking out 31 batters. He has also surrendered just six walks all season, the second-fewest in the conference.
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 42-12 when they score first in the last two seasons and since the start of 2013 are 57-1 when leading after the seventh inning. Additionally, UCLA has a record of 26-6 in the last two seasons when scoring in the first inning.
Since the start of 2010, UCLA has gone 88-38 in all road and neutral site contests, good for a .698 winning percentage. The Bruins have also gone 44-19 in Pac-12 road games since 2010. In the last three seasons, UCLA has gone 43-16 on the road and 10-2 in neutral site games. The Bruins have logged six Pac-12 road sweeps in the last four years (2010 at Washington, California; 2011 at Oregon; 2012 at Washington, Utah; 2013 at USC; 2014 at California) and one non-conference road sweep (2012 at Georgia). The Bruins are currently 7-4 on the road this season. UCLA has also won 18 of its last 21 games away from Jackie Robinson Stadium dating back to last season.
Senior Brian Carroll and sophomore Ty Moore are both having strong 2014 seasons thus far. Carroll, a San Diego, Calif. native, is batting at a .282 clip so far, scoring a team-high 19 runs. Serving as the leadoff hitter in every game thus far, Carroll has posted a .400 on-base percentage and has hit safely in 18 of his last 24 games. In the last 24 games, Carroll has batted .290 with 12 runs scored. He has also reached base safely in 25 of his last 28 games and has logged 10 multi-hit games on the season. Moore has hit safely in 17 of his last 22 contests (including the last five games) and is batting .333 with 11 RBI, 12 runs scored and a .438 OBP in his last 22 games. Like Carroll, Moore has also recorded 10 multi-hit games on the year and in Pac-12 play he is hitting .333 with a team-high nine runs. In right field, sophomore Christoph Bono leads the team with 20 RBI, five multi-RBI games and 10 doubles (sixth-most in the Pac-12).
TAKING THE HITS
UCLA has done a remarkable job this season of reaching base via the hit by pitch. Overall, UCLA hitters have been hit 59 times in 34 games thus far, which is the second-most in the Pac-12 and 17th-most in the country. Sophomore Ty Moore leads the Bruins individually with 11 hit by pitches, which is also good for fourth-most in the conference. Senior Brian Carroll is right behind Moore with 10 hit by pitches. UCLA has had a batter get hit by a pitch in 13 of its last 14 games and has had a total of 33 batters get hit by a pitch in those 14 games. Last season, the Bruins drew 82 hit by pitches, the most in the Pac-12 Conference.
BEHIND THE PLATE
Junior catcher Shane Zeile has continued to hit the ball well at the plate during the 2014 season. The Valencia, Calif. native leads the Bruins and ranks 10th in the Pac-12 with a .353 batting average. Zeile, who was named to the 2014 Johnny Bench Award Watch List, given out to the nation’s top collegiate catcher, has also logged a team-high 15 multi-hit games while leading UCLA with 47 total hits and a .428 on-base percentage (ninth-best in the Pac-12). His 47 hits rank sixth in the Pac-12 and he has also reached base safely 17 of his last 18 games. Additionally, Zeile has posted a multi-hit game in four straight games (and five of the last seven) and has hit .333 with four RBI and six runs scored in conference play. Behind the plate, Zeile has thrown out 14 attempted base stealers, tied for the most in the Pac-12 Conference.
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 holding opponents to a .226 batting average, the third-lowest in the conference. The Bruins have also allowed the third-fewest hits (252) in the Pac-12, fewest walks (78) and own the second-lowest ERA (2.83) and second-most strikeouts (244). The Bruins’ pitchers also own a WHIP of 1.05, the best in the Pac-12 and 10th-best in the nation. Additionally, UCLA’s bullpen has posted an ERA of 2.16 in 34 games this season while holding opponents to a .215 batting average. Max Schuh currently leads all UCLA pitchers with a 1.02 ERA in 20 relief appearances and has not allowed an earned run in his last 14 appearances (11 IP). The Bruins have also allowed three runs or less to the opposition in 12 of their last 18 contests and in the last two seasons are 57-4 when holding the opposing team to three runs or fewer.
In conference games since 2006, UCLA ranks second in wins (139) and win percentage (.621), trailing only Arizona State. The Bruins are third in total wins (328) and overall win percentage (.624) among Pac-12 teams. UCLA and Arizona split the 2012 Pac-12 title, and UCLA won the 2011 Pac-10 championship in outright fashion for the first time since 1986. In 2013, UCLA won the first NCAA title in program history.
CLOSING THE DOOR
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 a school record 126 appearances, breaking the previous mark of 119 set by Bill Wenrick from 1984-87, and has posted a 15-4 record with a 1.27 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 (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 (34). This season, Berg has thrown 38.2 innings in 25 appearances (second-most in the nation and most in the Pac-12), all while logging a 3-1 record, nine saves and a 1.63 ERA (fourth-lowest in the Pac-12). Berg has also won 11 of his last 12 decisions dating back to 2012 and his nine saves are the second-most in the conference and 12th-most in the country.
HEAD COACH JOHN SAVAGE
Head coach John Savage was named the 2013 National Coach of the Year by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, the ABCA and Perfect Game USA. By guiding the Bruins to their second straight College World Series last year, Savage became one of just 10 coaches all-time from the Pac-12 to lead their teams to back-to-back College World Series appearances. Additionally, Savage is one of just five coaches in college baseball history to have led his team to one CWS championship, produced a No. 1 MLB Draft pick and coached a Golden Spikes Award winner. Savage helped UCLA post an overall 49-17 record in 2013, marking the second-highest single-season win total in school history, and is UCLA’s all-time winningest postseason manager with 32 postseason victories. UCLA also matched a school record with 21 conference victories in 2013. Finally, Savage has guided the Bruins to the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons and has a winning percentage of .694 since 2010.
UCLA traveled to Tucson over the weekend and dropped two of three games to the Arizona Wildcats. The Bruins opened the series with an 8-0 win over the Wildcats behind seven strong innings on the mound from sophomore James Kaprielian. A total of five Bruins had multi-hit games on the night, with Ty Moore leading the way with a 3-6 effort that included two runs scored. Brian Carroll went 2-5 with two doubles and two RBI while Shane Zeile and Pat Gallagher each logged two hits, with Zeile scoring two runs and Gallagher scoring one. Finally, Trent Chatterton posted a 2-4 night with three RBI. UCLA fell to Arizona, 3-2, in game two on Saturday despite junior Grant Watson striking out six batters in seven innings pitched. Then in the rubber match on Sunday, Arizona bested UCLA again, winning, 6-5, on a walkoff infield single by Kevin Newman. Zeile led UCLA with a 2-4 day that included a double and two runs scored. Christoph Bono added two RBI and a hit while junior Chris Keck went 2-4 with a run.