Los Angeles, Calif. - The UCLA Baseball team kicks off Pac-12 play this weekend as the Bruins travel to the Bay Area to take on the California Golden Bears in a three-game series at California’s Evans Diamond.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, March 14 - 7 p.m.
UCLA – James Kaprielian, RHP, So. (2-2, 3.20)
CAL – Daulton Jefferies, RHP, Fr. (2-1, 3.80)
Saturday, March 15 - 6 p.m.
UCLA – Grant Watson, LHP, Jr. (2-1, 2.16)
CAL – Kyle Porter, LHP, Sr. (2-0, 0.95)
Sunday, March 16 - 2 p.m.
UCLA – Cody Poteet, RHP, So. (1-1, 2.42)
CAL – TBA
UCLA VS. CALIFORNIA
The Bruins have won six of the last seven series against California and nine of the last 12 meetings. Last season, UCLA took two of three from the Golden Bears at Jackie Robinson Stadium, winning the final two games of the three-game set. UCLA holds a slight edge in the all-time series at 172-171 and head coach John Savage holds a record of 16-11 against California in his time at UCLA.
PAC-12 NETWORKS SEASON DEBUT
The Bruins will appear on the Pac-12 Networks for the first time this season as Sunday’s game will be televised live by the Networks. JB Long and J.T. Snow will have the call live from Evans Diamond. UCLA will make 15 appearances on the Pac-12 Networks this year and two appearances on ESPNU. Eight of the 17 total TV appearances for UCLA will come at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
All three of UCLA's games at California this weekend will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at uclabruins.com. Tim Wilhelm will have the call live from Evans Diamond in Berkeley, Calif. 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.
STARTING THE SERIES OPENER
Sophomore right-hander James Kaprielian will make his fifth start of the year on Friday 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 2-2 record with a 3.20 ERA and a team-high 34 strikeouts. His 34 strikeouts are good for second-most in the conference and eighth-most in the nation. In addition to throwing a team-high 25.1 innings, Kaprielian has also held opposing hitters to a .148 batting average against him, the fifth-lowest opposing average in the Pac-12.
CONTINUING THE SERIES
Junior left-hander Grant Watson will start game two of the series at California. 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 four starts, striking out 19 batters in 25 innings while posting a 2.16 ERA, the best among all UCLA starters. He is also holding opponents to a .213 batting average against him and in his career has logged a 20-5 record as a starter.
CLOSING OUT THE SERIES
Sophomore right-hander Cody Poteet will start for the Bruins on Sunday afternoon in the series finale. 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 four starts of 2014, logging an ERA of 2.42 while striking out 19 batters. He has also surrendered just three walks all season. In his last start at USC, Poteet pitched 6.1 innings, allowing one earned run on five hits in a no-decision.
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 125 strikeouts while holding opponents to a conference-low .193 batting average. The Bruins have also allowed the fewest hits (98), second-fewest walks (43) and own the second-lowest ERA (2.65) in the Pac-12. In addition, the Bruins’ pitchers own the 12th-best WHIP in the country at 0.99, also good for second-best in the Pac-12. UCLA’s starting quartet of James Kaprielian, Grant Watson, Cody Poteet and Grant Dyer have posted an ERA of 2.70 in 16 starts this season. Additionally, in the last two seasons, the Bruins are 48-2 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.
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 38-8 when they score first in the last two seasons and since the start of 2013 are a perfect 49-0 when leading after the seventh inning. Additionally, UCLA has a record of 22-4 in the last two seasons when scoring in the first inning.
Since the start of 2010, UCLA has gone 82-34 in all road and neutral site contests. The Bruins have also gone 40-17 in Pac-12 road games since 2010. In the last two seasons, UCLA has gone 37-12 on the road and 10-2 in neutral site games. The Bruins have logged five Pac-12 road sweeps in the last three years (2010 at Washington, California; 2011 at Oregon; 2012 at Washington, Utah; 2013 at USC) and one non-conference road sweep (2012 at Georgia). The Bruins went 17-8 on the road in 2013, winning series at Baylor, Oregon, Washington State and USC and winning midweek games at UCSB, Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine.
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.
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 16 games, leading the Bruins and ranking third in the Pac-12 with a .400 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 .509 slugging percentage and a .493 on-base percentage. His on-base percentage and slugging percentage rank fifth and 10th in the conference respectively. In addition, Zeile was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week last week after posting nine hits in 15 at-bats and logging four RBI. Behind the plate, Zeile has handled a pitching staff that has allowed the lowest opposing batting average (.193) and the fewest hits (98) in the conference. 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 13 of its 16 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 is second on the team with four hit by pitches. UCLA led the conference with 82 hit batters in 2013 and had a school record 104 batters hit by a pitch back in 2010.
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.
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 114 appearances, which is already good for second-most in school history, and has posted a 14-3 record with a 1.32 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 18.2 innings in 13 appearances while logging a 2-0 record, three saves and a 2.41 ERA. Berg has also won his last 10 decisions dating back to 2012.
Like Zeile, senior Brian Carroll is off to a strong start in 2014. The San Diego, Calif. native is batting at a .333 clip so far, scoring a team-high 11 runs. Serving as the leadoff hitter in every game thus far, Carroll has posted a .471 on-base percentage, good for seventh-best in the conference, and logged three doubles and four stolen bases. Additionally, Carroll has not committed an error in center field this season. His counterpart in right field, sophomore Christoph Bono, is also off to a hot start. Bono is currently batting .309 with four doubles, one triple, 10 RBI and a .418 slugging percentage. Bono has also logged five multi-hit games and is six for his last 12 (.500).
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 .703 since 2010.