Los Angeles, Calif. - The UCLA Baseball team will play its final home series of the season this weekend, taking on the Oregon Ducks from Friday, May 16 to Sunday, May 18 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Game times are 7 p.m., 7 p.m. and 12 p.m. respectively.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, May 16 - 7 p.m.
ORE – Tommy Thorpe, LHP, Jr. (8-4, 2.40)
UCLA – James Kaprielian, RHP, So. (6-5, 2.63)
Saturday, May 17 - 7 p.m.
ORE – Jeff Gold, RHP, Sr. (9-1, 3.06)
UCLA – Grant Watson, LHP, Jr. (4-8, 3.75)
Sunday, May 18 - 12 p.m.
ORE – Brando Tessar, RHP, Sr. (4-1, 2.81)
UCLA – Cody Poteet, RHP, So. (3-4, 3.95)
UCLA VS. OREGON
UCLA holds a 20-8 advantage over the Ducks in the all-time series and is 9-6 vs. Oregon since the Ducks reinstated the baseball program back in 2009. Last season, UCLA took two of three at Oregon, winning the first two games of the series by matching scores of 1-0. Starting pitchers Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig combined for 14 scoreless innings and 14 strikeouts in both of those games while current junior David Berg earned saves in each of the victories, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings in relief in the wins. In addition, the win in the second game of the series last season was John Savage’s 300th win as UCLA head coach.
ALL THREE GAMES TO BE TELEVISED BY PAC-12 NETWORKS
All three games of the Oregon series will be nationally televised live by the Pac-12 Networks. Brian Webber and Geoff Blum will have the call live from Jackie Robinson Stadium on Friday while Jim Watson and Blum will call Saturday and Sunday’s games. This season, UCLA will enjoy more national exposure than ever with 19 televised games between the Pac-12 Networks and ESPN. UCLA has made 12 appearances already on the Pac-12 Networks and will make 17 total appearances on the Pac-12 Networks this year. The Bruins have already appeared twice on ESPNU this season. In total, eight of the 19 TV appearances will come at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
All three of UCLA's games vs. Oregon 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 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.
Sunday’s game will mark the final home regular season contest for four UCLA seniors and two student managers. The Bruins will honor infielders Aaron Weimer, Kevin Williams, Pat Gallagher and outfielder Brian Carroll along with managers Will Hughes and Kate Powers in a ceremony before the game. In their time at UCLA, these seniors have won two Pac-12 Championships, led UCLA to two College World Series appearances and won the first NCAA title in program history in 2013.
NO. 1 STARTER
Sophomore right-hander James Kaprielian will take the mound for the Bruins on Friday night 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 6-5 record with a 2.63 ERA (eighth-lowest in the Pac-12) and a conference-leading 86 strikeouts (tied with Arizona’s James Farris). His 86 strikeouts are also good for 29th-most in the nation. In addition, Kaprielian’s 2.63 ERA is the lowest among all UCLA starting pitchers and his 89 innings pitched leads all UCLA pitchers (fifth-most in the Pac-12). Kaprielian has also held opposing hitters to a .205 batting average against him, the fifth-lowest opposing average in the Pac-12, and has allowed two runs or less in nine of his 13 starts this season. In addition, Kaprielian has pitched at least six innings in 11 of his 13 starts (including the last nine) and has logged double-digit strikeouts three times this season.
SATURDAY UNDER THE LIGHTS
Junior left-hander Grant Watson will start game two of the series on Saturday night for the Bruins. Watson is 4-8 in 15 appearances (13 starts) this season, striking out 59 batters in 84 innings pitched while posting a 3.75 ERA. His 84 innings pitched ranks ninth in the conference. Watson also leads the Pac-12 with five pick offs this season. In his career, Watson has logged a 21-12 record as a starter and has pitched at least six innings in 10 of his 13 starts this season. In addition, Watson has posted nine quality starts this year (6 IP, 3 ER or less).
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 3-4 in 15 appearances (13 starts), logging an ERA of 3.95 while striking out 43 batters. He has also surrendered just 14 walks all season, the fifth-fewest in the conference. Additionally, Poteet has logged quality starts in each of his last four starts, posting an ERA of 2.88 in those four starts.
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 44-16-1 when they score first in the last two seasons and since the start of 2013 are 60-2 when leading after the seventh inning. Additionally, UCLA has a record of 27-8 in the last two seasons when scoring in the first inning.
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 72 times in 50 games thus far, which ranks third in the Pac-12. Sophomore Ty Moore leads the Bruins individually with 13 hit by pitches, which is also good for fourth-most in the conference. Sophomore Christoph Bono and senior Brian Carroll are right behind Moore with 11 and 10 hit by pitches respectively. UCLA has had a batter get hit by a pitch in 24 of its last 30 games and has had a total of 46 batters get hit by a pitch in those 30 games. Last season, the Bruins drew 82 hit by pitches, the most in the Pac-12 Conference.
ZEILE NAMED SEMIFINALIST FOR JOHNNY BENCH AWARD
Earlier this week, junior catcher Shane Zeile was selected as one of 15 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award, handed out to the nation’s top collegiate catcher. Overall, Zeile leads the Bruins and ranks seventh in the Pac-12 with a .332 batting average. Zeile, who was also named to the Gregg Olson Award Watch List for “Breakout Player of the Year,” has also logged a team-high 19 multi-hit games while leading UCLA with 64 total hits and a .409 on-base percentage (10th-best in the Pac-12). His 64 hits rank second in the Pac-12 and he has reached base safely in 30 of his last 34 games. Additionally, Zeile is hitting .321 in his last 20 games and is batting a team-leading .316 with 10 RBI and 11 runs scored in conference play. Behind the plate, Zeile has thrown out 17 attempted base stealers, the most in the Pac-12 Conference.
SWINGING THE BATS
Several Bruins have been swinging the bat well in Pac-12 play this season. In addition to Shane Zeile hitting a team-high .316, sophomores Trent Chatterton and Ty Moore are hitting .313 and .289 respectively in conference play. Moore has scored a team-leading 18 runs in Pac-12 games, logging 10 RBI and a team-high .456 slugging percentage as well, while Chatterton has scored 11 runs and driven in seven. Chatterton also leads the Bruins with a .389 on-base percentage in conference games only and has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games overall. Additionally, Chatterton is batting .333 since the start of the Arizona series on April 11, logging at least one hit in 16 of his last 20 games. Senior Kevin Williams has hit the ball with power in Pac-12 play, slugging .446 with two home runs and 19 RBI. Overall, Williams is tied with Zeile and Moore for the team lead in RBI with 23.
In conference games since 2006, UCLA ranks third in wins (142) and win percentage (.602), trailing only Arizona State and Oregon State. The Bruins are third in total wins (332) and overall win percentage (.614) 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.
Junior 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 128 appearances, breaking the previous mark of 119 set by Bill Wenrick from 1984-87, and has posted a 15-4 record with a 1.26 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. 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 (34). This season, Berg has thrown 41.1 innings in 27 appearances, all while logging a 3-1 record, nine saves and a team-leading 1.52 ERA. Berg has also won 11 of his last 12 decisions dating back to 2012 and his nine saves are the fourth-most in the conference. In addition, Berg has been named to the 2014 watch lists for both the National Pitcher of the Year and NCBWA Stopper of the 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 winning percentage of .673 since 2010.
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 .244 batting average, the fourth-lowest in the conference. The Bruins also own the third-most strikeouts (354) in the conference and have allowed 146 walks on the season, just nine more than the Pac-12 leader (Oregon State). Additionally, UCLA’s bullpen has posted an ERA of 3.17 in 50 games this season while holding opponents to a .234 batting average. UCLA’s starting pitchers have posted an ERA of 3.55. Junior Max Schuh leads the Pac-12 conference and is third in the nation with 33 appearances out of the bullpen while freshman Nick Kern is second in the conference to Schuh with 30. The Bruins have also allowed three runs or less to the opposition in 26 of their 50 games this season and in the last two seasons are 61-6 when holding the opposing team to three runs or fewer.
UCLA has finished among the top three in the Pac-12 Conference in 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.