Los Angeles, Calif. - The 19th-ranked UCLA Baseball team will wrap up its eight-game homestand on Tuesday night, hosting the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at 6 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins and Gauchos have met 88 times on the baseball diamond, with UCLA winning 53 of those contests. Additionally, head coach John Savage has an all-time record of 13-9 against the Gauchos, 7-6 at UCLA. The Bruins swept the season series with the Gauchos last year, winning both games by scores of 12-3 and 2-1 respectively. Sophomore Cody Poteet picked up the win for the Bruins in both of their wins over UC Santa Barbara last year. UCLA has also won five of the last six meetings overall with UC Santa Barbara and has defeated the Gauchos in four of the last five matchups at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, Feb. 25 - 6:00 p.m.
UCSB – Domenic Mazza, LHP, So. (0-0, 0.00)
UCLA – Grant Dyer, RHP, Fr. (1-0, 0.00)
Tomorrow’s game against UC Santa Barbara 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 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.
TAKING THE MOUND
Freshman right-hander Grant Dyer will take the mound for the Bruins tomorrow night in his second collegiate start. 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 last Tuesday against Cal State Northridge, Dyer earned the win with five shutout innings while allowing just two hits and fanning three. 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 dropped two of three games over the weekend to No. 22 Cal Poly. On Friday, UCLA defeated the Mustangs, 5-2, behind seven strong innings on the mound from sophomore James Kaprielian and a 4-4 performance at the plate from freshman Luke Persico. Kaprielian struck out a career-high nine batters in his seven innings of work to earn his first collegiate victory. Persico logged two triples among his four hits while recording a RBI as well. Sophomore Ty Moore had a multi-hit game for the Bruins as well, going 2-3 with a run and a RBI. Then on Saturday, the Mustangs rebounded with an 8-0 victory over the Bruins. Slater Lee threw a complete game shutout for Cal Poly to earn the win. Junior Grant Watson took the loss for the Bruins, dropping to 1-1 after allowing six runs (five earned) in four innings of work while striking out seven. In the rubber match on Sunday, the Mustangs defeated the Bruins, 9-1, to win the series. Freshman Brett Stephens and sophomore Christoph Bono had two hits apiece in the loss while Casey Bloomquist earned the win for the Mustangs with five innings on the mound.
UCLA has won 19 of its last 23 midweek games dating back to the 2012 season. The Bruins concluded the 2012 regular-season schedule having gone 11-0 in all Tuesday ballgames and are also 20-6 in their last 26 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 1-0 in midweek games with a win over Cal State Northridge at home.
UCLA’s outfield trio of Brian Carroll, Christoph Bono and Ty Moore is off to a great start at the plate. Carroll currently leads the Bruins with a .348 batting average and a .500 on-base percentage, logging two doubles, four runs and a .435 slugging percentage as well. Last season, Carroll led the Bruins with 50 runs scored while also leading the Pac-12 with 32 stolen bases. Bono has scored a team-high five runs while batting at a .333 clip with a team-leading three doubles and a .542 slugging percentage. Moore has posted a .296 batting average and a .444 slugging percentage through the first seven games, recording two doubles and a triple in the process.
HOLDING THE OPPOSITION
Through seven games this year, UCLA’s pitching staff has allowed the lowest opposing batting average (.190) and the fewest hits (43) in the Pac-12. Individually, freshman Grant Dyer currently leads the Pac-12 with a .087 batting average against. Last season, UCLA’s pitchers posted a team ERA of 2.55, which ranked second in the Pac-12 and sixth-best nationally. The Bruins also ranked third in the country with an overall WHIP of 1.07 in 2013, and held opponents to a .222 batting average against them, the second-lowest in the Pac-12. Additionally, UCLA allowed the fewest runs (196) in the conference last season.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Since the start of 2010, UCLA has gone 105-43 in all home contests, good for a .709 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 and are off to a 4-3 start at home this season.
UCLA came in at No. 19 in this week’s Baseball America top-25 poll, marking the 37th 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.
UCLA has finished among the top three in the Pac-12 Conference each of the last eight seasons (2006-2013), the only Pac-12 team to have done so. Under John Savage, UCLA finished third from 2006 through 2009, before finishing second in 2010 and winning the confernece title in 2011 and 2012. Last season, UCLA finished third with a 21-9 Pac-12 record. Never before in school history has UCLA enjoyed an eight-year span with as many top finishes in the standings.
TAKING THE HITS
UCLA has had at least one batter get hit by a pitch in each of the first seven games, bringing the Bruins’ season total to 11 batters hit by a pitch. Brian Carroll and Ty Moore lead the Bruins with three hit by pitches apiece while Christoph Bono, Shane Zeile, Luke Persico, Chris Keck and Pat Gallagher have each 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.
In conference games since 2006, UCLA ranks second in wins (132) and win percentage (.623), trailing only Arizona State. The Bruins are third in total wins (313) and are fourth in overall win percentage (.627) 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.
Returning to anchor the bullpen is All-American closer David Berg, who has enjoyed as fine a two-year career as any reliever in the history of college baseball. In three seasons, Berg has made 103 appearances, which is already good for third-most in school history, and has posted a 13-3 record with a 1.15 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 (26). This season, Berg has thrown 9.1 innings in five appearances while logging one save and a 1.93 ERA.
LAST FOUR SEASONS
The Bruins rank among the top 10 in the nation in victories over the last five seasons (2010-14), ranking sixth in the country with 187 wins, which is also tops amongst all Pac-12 schools. UCLA and South Carolina are the only schools that have advanced to the College World Series in at least three of the last four seasons. and won a title. UCLA, Virginia and South Carolina are the only schools in the country to have hosted NCAA Regionals the last four years.
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 (Frank Sancet, Jerry Kindall - Arizona; Bobby Winkles, Jim Brock - Arizona State; Pat Casey - Oregon State; Mark Marquess - Stanford; Sam Barry, Rod Dedeaux, Mike Gillespie - USC). Savage served as the pitching coach at USC from 1997-2000, where he helped lead the Trojans to the 1998 national title and another apperance at the CWS in 2000. 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 staggering winning percentage staggering .708 since 2010.