Los Angeles, Calif. - For the second weekend in a row, the 13th-ranked UCLA Baseball team will take on a trio of opponents, hosting Pepperdine and Houston on Friday and Saturday respectively before heading across town to take on rivals USC on Sunday.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, March 7 - 6 p.m.
PEPP – Corey Miller, RHP, Sr. (1-1, 0.35)
UCLA – James Kaprielian, RHP, So. (2-1, 0.90)
Saturday, March 8 - 2 p.m.
HOU – Jake Lemoine, RHP, So. (1-1, 0.42)
UCLA – Grant Watson, LHP, Jr. (2-1, 2.37)
Sunday, March 9 - 1 p.m.
UCLA – Cody Poteet, RHP, So. (1-1, 2.81)
USC – Bob Wheatley, LHP, Sr. (2-0, 0.47)
UCLA VS. PEPPERDINE/HOUSTON
UCLA leads the all-time series with Pepperdine, 57-37-4, and has won the last six meetings in the series and 10 of the last 12. The two schools last met back in 2012, where the Bruins won 6-2 behind a 2-3 day from Shane Zeile. Grant Watson started that game for UCLA, going 5.2 innings in a no-decision. Additionally, head coach John Savage has an all-time record of 11-4 against the Waves in his time at UCLA. The Bruins have only played Houston once on the baseball diamond, falling to the Cougars, 7-6, back in 2004 in a game played at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif.
All three of UCLA's games this weekend will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at uclabruins.com. John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call live from the Jackie Robinson Stadium for the Pepperdine game while Wilhelm will call the game on Saturday. Ramey and Wilhelm will both call the game at USC's Dedeaux Field on Sunday. 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.
Despite the Trojans holding a 253-130 advantage in the all-time series, the Bruins have had remarkable success against their crosstown rivals in recent years. Since John Savage became head coach of the Bruins in the summer of 2004, the Bruins have gone 23-9 against USC and have not lost a season series to the Trojans since 2005. UCLA has also won 23 of its last 28 games against the Trojans, including the last eight meetings. The Bruins have swept the season series with the Trojans in each of the last two seasons.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Sophomore right-hander James Kaprielian will take the hill for the Bruins on Friday against Pepperdine. After earning freshman All-America honors from Perfect Game USA and Collegiate Baseball in 2013, Kaprielian has continued that success into 2014, posting a 2-1 record in three starts while leading UCLA with a 0.90 ERA and 27 strikeouts. Kaprielian’s 0.90 ERA is good for fifth-best in the Pac-12 while his 27 strikeouts are tied for first in the conference and tied for third in the nation. He has also held opposing hitters to a .129 batting average against him. Last weekend, Kaprielian threw eight innings of shutout ball, allowing one hit and striking out 11 in UCLA’s 2-1 win over Notre Dame.
Junior left-hander Grant Watson is slated to pitch for the Bruins in the second game of the weekend series against Houston. As a sophomore in 2013, Watson went 9-3 with a 3.01 ERA, striking out 55 batters and walking just 16, the sixth-fewest in the Pac-12. He pitched particularly well in the postseason, winning both of his starts while not allowing a run in 13 combined innings. In addition, Watson was named to the 2013 NCAA Los Angeles Regional All-Tournament Team. This season, Watson is 2-1 through three starts, striking out 18 batters in 19 innings while posting a 2.37 ERA and holding opponents to a .174 batting average. His 18 strikeouts are good for fourth-most in the Pac-12. He was stellar in his last start against NC State, allowing just three hits in eight shutout innings to lead UCLA to a big 2-0 victory over the sixth-ranked Wolfpack. In his career, Watson has logged a 20-5 record as a starter.
ROUNDING OUT THE ROTATION
Sophomore right-hander Cody Poteet will start for the Bruins on Sunday afternoon at USC. Poteet served as UCLA’s midweek starter in 2013, going 4-4 with a 4.69 ERA in 11 midweek starts while 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. Poteet is 1-1 through his first three starts of 2014, logging an ERA of 2.81 while striking out 18 batters, tied with Watson for fourth-most in the conference. He has also surrendered just two walks all season and his 13 strikeouts against Michigan last Sunday are the most by any pitcher in the Pac-12 in a single game this season.
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 second in the Pac-12 conference with 103 strikeouts while holding opponents to a conference-low .181 batting average. The Bruins have also allowed the fewest hits (69) and own the fourth-lowest ERA (2.62) in the Pac-12. In three games this past weekend, UCLA’s starting pitchers combined to throw 25 shutout innings, allowing just six hits and three walks while striking out 27. 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.
UCLA returned home from its successful weekend in Cary, N.C. to take on the Loyola Marymount Lions on Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins dropped a 6-1 decision to the Lions to fall to 7-5 on the year. Patrick McGrath earned the win for the Lions to improve to 1-0, pitching seven innings and allowing one run while striking out three. Freshman Grant Dyer took the loss for the Bruins after allowing two runs on four hits in 4.1 innings pitched. Senior Brian Carroll led the Bruins at the plate, going 3-4 with three singles while freshman Luke Persico added a double and a run for UCLA as well. Sophomore Justin Hazard drove in the only run of the ballgame for UCLA, scoring Persico with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.
UCLA came in at No. 13 in this week’s Baseball America top-25 poll, marking the 38th 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.
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 37-6 when they score first in the last two seasons and since the start of 2013 are a perfect 47-0 when leading after the seventh inning. Additionally, UCLA has a record of 21-3 in the last two seasons when scoring in the first inning.
HOT HITTING BACKSTOP
Junior catcher Shane Zeile is off to a hot start at the plate through the first 12 games, leading the Bruins with a .359 batting average thus far. Zeile has also logged a team-high four multi-hit games while also leading UCLA with 13 total hits, six walks and a .469 on-base percentage. Behind the plate, Zeile has handled a pitching staff that has allowed the lowest opposing batting average (.181) and the fewest hits (69) in the conference thus far. Last season, Zeile started 57 of the Bruins’ 66 games, logging nine doubles and two home runs.
TAKING THE HITS
UCLA has had at least one batter get hit by a pitch in 11 of its 12 games, bringing the Bruins’ season total to 20 batters hit by a pitch, second-most in the conference. Brian Carroll leads the Bruins and the Pac-12 conference with six hit by pitches while Ty Moore and Christoph Bono have each been hit three times. Chris Keck, Shane Zeile and Pat Gallagher have been hit twice while Luke Persico and Trent Chatterton 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.
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 110 appearances, which is already good for third-most in school history, and has posted a 13-3 record with a 1.25 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 13 innings in nine appearances while logging three saves and a 2.08 ERA.
POTEET EARNS NATIONAL HONORS
After his dominating performance on the mound on Sunday against Michigan, sophomore right-hander Cody Poteet was named one of the National Players of the Week by Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger and NCAA.com, as well as earning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honors. Poteet had a career day for the Bruins on Sunday, tossing a complete shutout and striking out 13 in UCLA’s 5-0 win over the Wolverines. The Bonita, Calif. native was phenomenal, allowing just two hits and no walks in his complete game shutout. Poteet struck out at least one hitter in every inning he pitched and also set a new career-high with his 13 strikeouts. In addition, his 13 strikeouts were the most by a UCLA pitcher since Trevor Bauer struck out 14 Fresno State batters on June 4, 2011. Poteet also threw the first complete game shutout by a UCLA pitcher since Nick Vander Tuig shut out Washington on March 16 of last year.
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 staggering winning percentage staggering .706 since 2010.