No. 11 Bruins Host California in Key Conference Matchup

March 21, 2013

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Los Angeles, Calif. - The 11th-ranked UCLA Baseball team (15-3, 3-0) will continue Pac-12 play this weekend as it hosts the California Golden Bears (13-8, 3-0) in a three-game series at Jackie Robinson Stadium from Friday, March 22 to Sunday, March 24. Game times are 6 p.m., 2 p.m., and 1 p.m. respectively.

Friday, March 22 - 6 p.m.
CAL - Ryan Mason, RHP, Fr. (3-0, 2.93)
UCLA - Adam Plutko, RHP, Jr. (2-0, 2.73)

Saturday, March 23 - 2 p.m.
CAL - Justin Jones, LHP, Sr. (1-1, 4.81)
UCLA - Nick Vander Tuig, RHP, Jr. (3-2, 1.80)

Sunday, March 24 - 1 p.m.
UCLA - Grant Watson, LHP, So. (4-0, 1.10)

All three of UCLA's home games this weekend will feature a live audio broadcast online, free of charge, at John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call live from Jackie Robinson Stadium this weekend. Fans can also follow every UCLA home game online through GameTracker, which provides pitch-by-pitch updates on Links can be found on the front page of on the events calendar or on the 2013 UCLA Baseball schedule page.

The Bruins continue Pac-12 play this weekend as they host the California Golden Bears in a three-game series at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins have won five of the last six series against California and seven of the last nine meetings. Last season, UCLA took two of three from the Golden Bears at Evans Diamond in Berkeley. The all-time series between the two schools is tied at 170-170 and head coach John Savage holds a record of 14-10 against California in his time at UCLA.

UCLA opened their conference schedule last weekend with a three-game sweep of the Washington Huskies at home. The Bruins opened the series with a 3-2 win over the Huskies in a game that lasted 15 innings and was played over two days. After heavy fog caused the game to be suspended on Friday night, the two teams resumed the game in the bottom of the fourth on Saturday afternoon. Christoph Bono ended the game with a two-out walk-off single in the bottom of the 15th to earn the win for the Bruins. Later that night, Nick Vander Tuig threw a complete game shutout to lift UCLA to a 5-0 win over Washington. Vander Tuig scattered seven hits over his nine innings of work, throwing 126 pitches while striking out eight and walking none. The Bruins finished off the sweep on Sunday afternoon, winning 3-0 in the third and final game of the series. Grant Watson threw six scoreless innings for the Bruins while Pat Valaika led the offense by going 2-4 with two runs and a solo home run.

UCLA's pitching staff has not allowed a run to an opponent in its last 32 innings of work. The Bruins held Washington scoreless through the final 32 innings of their series, with the last run coming on a solo home run by Brian Wolfe with nobody out in the second inning of the game on March 15. Overall, UCLA's staff has a collective ERA of 2.02, which is good for seventh best in the country entering this weekend. The Bruins also lead the nation in WHIP, posting a 0.94 mark as a team. Finally, UCLA's pitchers have allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of their 18 games this season.

Junior-right hander Adam Plutko will make his sixth start of the year for the Bruins on Friday night. Plutko owns a record of 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts this season, striking out 19 batters in 29.2 innings pitched. He had his last start cut short, pitching four innings against Washington on Friday night before the game was suspended due to fog. In his last 12 starts, Plutko has a 9-0 record with a 1.58 ERA. His last loss came back on April 27, 2012 against Stanford. Plutko has twice been named to the All-Pac-12 team and in 2012, captured third-team All-America honors from Baseball America.

Junior-right hander Nick Vander Tuig is scheduled to take the mound on Saturday afternoon in the second game of the series. Vander Tuig is coming off of one of the best performances of his career, throwing his first ever complete game shutout in UCLA's 5-0 win over Washington. Vander Tuig enters this weekend's series with a 1.80 ERA in a team-high 35 innings pitched. He has given up only three walks all year, which is tied for best in the Pac-12, and has struck out 20 batters while allowing just a .218 batting average against him.

Sophomore left-hander Grant Watson will round out UCLA's rotation this weekend as he is slated to start Sunday's game. Watson, who owns a career record of 12-1 as a starter, has been outstanding through his first five starts, going 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA, which ranks fourth in the conference. Watson has also posted a terrific 0.67 WHIP thus far, which is good for ninth best in the country. Like Vander Tuig, he has struck out 20 batters and allowed just three walks in the early going. In addition, the Bakersfield native has given up only four earned runs in his five starts while allowing hitters to bat just .173 against him.

UCLA has had a total of 30 batters get hit by a pitch in its last 15 games, bringing the season total to a Pac-12 best 39 hit batters through 18 games. Brian Carroll, Kevin Kramer and Shane Zeile lead the Bruins with six hit by pitches apiece while Eric Filia has been hit five times. Pat Gallagher and Pat Valaika have each been hit four times. Overall, the Bruins have had a batter get hit by a pitch in 18 of their last 19 games dating back to last year and their 39 hit batters ranks eighth in the country. UCLA had a school record 104 batters hit by a pitch back in 2010.

After his record-setting freshman season in 2012, sophomore David Berg has continued to string together terrific performances out of the bullpen. Berg currently leads all UCLA pitchers with a 0.84 ERA, which is also good for a tie for 18th-best in the country and second best in the conference. He has also appeared in 13 of UCLA's 18 games, going a perfect 5-5 in save opportunities while striking out 27 batters in 21.1 innings. Berg led the Pac-12 with a 1.46 ERA last season, appearing in 50 games, which was one shy of the NCAA record.

The Bruins are outscoring their opponents 17-2 in the first inning and 42-11 through the first three innings thus far. UCLA is also 13-1 on the year when they score first and 8-0 when they score in the first inning. In addition, UCLA has a record of 14-0 when they score more than three runs in a ballgame. In one-run games, the Bruins are a perfect 6-0 on the season. They are also 11-0 when leading after seven innings and have won 12 of their last 13 games. Additionally, UCLA has won its last six conference games dating back to last year and the last four Pac-12 series.

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