Los Angeles, Calif. - The No. 21 UCLA Baseball team will play its last non-conference weekend series of the year, taking on Long Beach State from Friday, April 4 to Sunday, April 6. Friday and Sunday’s games will be played at Blair Field in Long Beach while Saturday’s game will be played at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, April 4 - 6 p.m.
UCLA – James Kaprielian, RHP, So. (4-3, 2.98)
LBSU – Andrew Rohrbach, RHP, So. (4-1, 2.27)
Saturday, April 5 - 2 p.m.
LBSU – Josh Frye, RHP, Sr. (0-0, 2.70)
UCLA – Grant Watson, LHP, Jr. (4-2, 2.70)
Sunday, April 6 - 1 p.m.
UCLA – Cody Poteet, RHP, So. (2-1, 3.35)
LBSU – Ryan Strufing, LHP, Jr. (0-0, 3.00)
UCLA VS. LONG BEACH STATE
The Bruins lead the all-time series with Long Beach State, 60-40, and have won five of the last seven meetings against the Dirtbags. Head Coach John Savage owns a record of 11-9 against Long Beach State in his time at UCLA. Last season, the two schools split their season series with each team winning on the opponent’s home field. The two schools met last week at Jackie Robinson Stadium where the Bruins defeated the Dirtbags, 2-1. Grant Dyer earned the win with six strong innings on the mound while Shane Zeile went 2-3 with two runs to lead the UCLA offense.
All three of UCLA's games against Long Beach State 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 Blair Field on Friday and Sunday and Jackie Robinson Stadium on Saturday. 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.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Sophomore right-hander James Kaprielian will take the mound for the Bruins on Friday night in the series opener at Blair Field. After earning freshman All-America honors from Perfect Game USA and Collegiate Baseball in 2013, Kaprielian has continued that success into 2014, posting a 4-3 record with a 2.98 ERA and a team-high 54 strikeouts. His 54 strikeouts are good for second-most in the conference and 11th-most in the nation. Kaprielian has also held opposing hitters to a .205 batting average against him, the eighth-lowest opposing average in the Pac-12, and has allowed two runs or less in five of his seven starts this season. In last start against Arizona State, Kaprielian picked up the win by allowing three runs in six innings while striking out a career-high 12 batters.
Junior left-hander Grant Watson will start game two of the series on Saturday afternoon for the Bruins. Watson is 4-2 in six starts this season, striking out 32 batters in a team-high 41 innings while posting a 2.70 ERA. Additionally, he is holding opponents to a .199 batting average against him, the seventh-lowest in the Pac-12 and has pitched eight innings in three of his last five starts. Finally, in his career Watson has logged a 22-6 record as a starter.
STARTING THE SERIES FINALE
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, 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 2-1 through in seven starts, logging an ERA of 3.35 while striking out 29 batters. He has also surrendered just five walks all season, the third-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 40-9 when they score first in the last two seasons and since the start of 2013 are 55-1 when leading after the seventh inning. Additionally, UCLA has a record of 26-5 in the last two seasons when scoring in the first inning.
The Bruins have done an excellent job this season of laying down sacrifice bunts. UCLA ranks fifth in the nation and is currently second in the Pac-12 with 44 sacrifice bunts, trailing leaders Washington by just two. Freshman Luke Persico and senior Brian Carroll are tied for the team lead and are sixth in the Pac-12 with seven sacrifice bunts apiece. Sophomore Trent Chatterton is right behind Carroll and Persico with five. The Bruins have laid down at least one successful sacrifice bunt in their last seven games and have a total of 18 in those seven games. Last season, UCLA set a school record with 76 sacrifice bunts. In the sacrifice fly category, the Bruins have recorded 11 on the year with sophomore Christoph Bono and junior Chris Keck leading the way with two sacrifice flies apiece.
Senior Kevin Williams has been swinging the bat well since returning to the Bruins’ lineup from injury on March 7. Williams is currently on a five-game hitting streak while posting a batting average of .500, four runs and seven RBI in those five games. Overall, Williams leads the Bruins with a .324 batting average, nine RBI and two home runs in conference games. In his four-year career, Williams has played in 139 games, batting .262 with 56 runs and 51 RBI.
Since the start of 2010, UCLA has gone 86-34 in all road and neutral site contests, good for a .717 winning percentage. The Bruins have also gone 43-17 in Pac-12 road games since 2010. In the last two seasons, UCLA has gone 41-12 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 went 17-8 on the road in 2013, winning series at Baylor, Oregon, Washington State and USC and are currently 5-0 on the road this season. UCLA has also won 16 consecutive games away from Jackie Robinson Stadium dating back to last season.
UCLA came in at No. 21 in this week’s Baseball America top-25 poll, marking the 42nd 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.
Senior Brian Carroll and sophomores Christoph Bono and Ty Moore are all having strong 2014 seasons thus far. Carroll, a San Diego, Calif. native, is batting at a .309 clip so far, scoring a team-high 18 runs. Serving as the leadoff hitter in every game thus far, Carroll has posted a .429 on-base percentage, tied for the team lead, and has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games. In the last 17 games, Carroll has batted .333 with 11 runs scored. He has also reached base safely in 21 of his last 23 games. Bono, Carroll’s counterpart in right field, has been on a tear as of late, hitting safely in 13 of his last 15 games and logging at least one RBI in 10 of those 15 games. Bono is currently batting .304 overall with a team-high 10 doubles, second-most in the conference, and has batted .333 since UCLA’s game on March 7 vs. Pepperdine. Bono also leads the team in RBI (17), is tied with Shane Zeile for the team lead in multi-hit games (10), is second to Carroll with 14 runs scored and is second on the team with a .422 slugging percentage. Finally in left field, sophomore Ty Moore has hit safely in 12 of his last 15 contests and is batting .340 with 10 RBI and a .450 OBP in his last 15 games. Moore has also recorded multi-hit games in three of his last six games.
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 45 times in 27 games thus far, second only to Washington (46) for the Pac-12 lead. Senior Brian Carroll leads the Bruins individually with nine hit by pitches, third-most in the conference, while sophomore Ty Moore has been hit eight times. UCLA has had a batter get hit by a pitch in seven straight games and has had a total of 19 batters get hit by a pitch in those seven games. Last season, the Bruins drew 82 hit by pitches, the most in the Pac-12 Conference.
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 123 appearances, breaking the previous mark of 119 set by Bill Wenrick from 1984-87, and has posted a 15-4 record with a 1.31 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 (33). This season, Berg has thrown 34.0 innings in a conference-leading 22 appearances, all while logging a 3-1 record, eight saves and a 1.85 ERA (fifth-lowest in the Pac-12). Berg has also won his last 11 of his last 12 decisions dating back to 2012 and his eight saves are second-most in the conference and 11th-most in the country.
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 11th in the Pac-12 with a .350 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 10 multi-hit games (tied with Bono) while leading UCLA with 36 total hits, 12 walks (tied with Carroll) and a .429 on-base percentage (tied with Carroll). His 36 hits rank seventh in the Pac-12 and he has also reached base safely 10 of his last 11 games. Behind the plate, Zeile has handled a pitching staff that has allowed the second-lowest opposing batting average (.214) and second-lowest ERA (2.70) in the 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 .214 batting average, the second-lowest in the conference. The Bruins have also allowed the third-fewest hits (178), fewest walks (62) and own the second-lowest ERA (2.70) in the Pac-12. The Bruins’ pitchers also own a WHIP of 1.01, the best in the Pac-12 and fifth-best in the nation. UCLA’s starting quartet of James Kaprielian, Grant Watson, Cody Poteet and Grant Dyer have posted an ERA of 2.94 in 27 starts this season while holding opponents to a .218 batting average. The Bruins have also allowed three runs or less to the opposition in nine of their last 12 contests and in the last two seasons are 55-3 when holding the opposing team to three runs or fewer.