Los Angeles, Calif. - The 12th-ranked UCLA Baseball team (2-1) will play its first midweek contest of the season this Tuesday as the Bruins take on the Cal State Northridge Matadors (2-1) at 6 p.m. out at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA holds a slight edge in the all-time series, leading the Matadors 32-28-1. Head coach John Savage has a record of 10-3 against Cal State Northridge in his time at UCLA while the Bruins have won eight of the last 10 meetings against the Matadors, including the last four of the last five.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, Feb. 18 - 6:00 p.m.
CSUN – Calvin Copping, RHP, So. (0-0, 0.00)
UCLA – Grant Dyer, RHP, Fr. (0-0, 0.00)
Tomorrow’s game against Cal State Northridge 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.
FIRST COLLEGIATE START
Freshman right-hander Grant Dyer will make his first collegiate start for the Bruins tomorrow night. Dyer made his collegiate debut over the weekend against Portland, pitching a scoreless inning in relief in UCLA’s 12-1 win over the Pilots on Saturday. 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.
The Bruins kicked off the 2014 season by taking two out of three at home from the Portland Pilots. After dropping the season opener by a score of 1-0, UCLA rebounded with a 12-1 victory over Portland on Saturday. Junior Grant Watson was terrific on the mound for the Bruins in that game, earning the win with seven strong innings. Watson scattered three hits over his seven innings of work, striking out eight while walking just one. At the plate, junior Chris Keck led the way for the Bruins, going 4-5 with a double, a triple, three runs scored and a RBI. Then in the rubber match on Sunday, UCLA earned a 4-3 win in 11 innings on a walkoff double by junior Shane Zeile that scored senior Brian Carroll. Junior David Berg earned his first win of the season for the Bruins, tossing four scoreless innings in relief while sophomore Ty Moore led UCLA at the plate his first career four-hit game. UCLA’s bullpen was stellar all weekend, combining to pitch 12.2 innings and allowing only two runs. UCLA’s hitters also had a strong final two games of the series, batting .385 with 11 extra-base hits and 14 RBI in the team’s back-to-back wins on Saturday and Sunday.
UCLA has won 18 of its last 22 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 18-4 in their last 22 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.
UCLA’s pitching staff is off to a strong start to the 2014 season, giving up only five runs in the Bruins’ weekend series with Portland. In its their last 11 games, UCLA’s pitchers have not allowed more than three runs in any ballgame, allowing only one run or less in eight of their last nine. 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.
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.
UCLA came in at No. 12 in this week’s Baseball America top-25 poll, marking the 36th 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 three 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.
Juniors David Berg, Grant Watson and Kevin Kramer, and sophomore James Kaprielian were all named preseason All-Americans for the 2014 season from various publications. Berg secured preseason All-America accolades from every major outlet, including Baseball America (second team), Collegiate Baseball (first team), the NCBWA (first team) and Perfect Game USA (second team). Watson and Kramer earned preseason All-America acclaim from the NCBWA (second and third team respectively) while Kaprielian was named a third-team preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball. Berg captured All-America honors from every major publication last season while Kaprielian earned freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game USA.
UCLA was selected to finish third in the Pac-12’s preseason coaches’ poll. Oregon State was picked to finish first while Oregon is projected to finish second. Arizona State and Arizona rounded out the top five in that order. The remaining six teams include (in order) Stanford, California, Washington State, USC, Washington and Utah.
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 (311) and are fourth in overall win percentage (.628) 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.
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 (25). This season, Berg has already thrown five innings in two appearances while not allowing a run.
LAST FOUR SEASONS
The Bruins rank among the top 10 in the nation in victories over the last four seasons (2010-13), ranking sixth in the country with 185 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 has a staggering winning percentage staggering .712 since 2010.