UCLA Hosts Big Pac-10 Series With No. 10 Arizona State

April 19, 2006

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Game Data:

UCLA vs. No. 10 Arizona State - Jackie Robinson Stadium, April 21 at 6 p.m., Hector Ambriz, RHP (5-4, 3.65) vs. Pat Bresnehan, RHP (3-2, 4.08)

UCLA vs. No. 10 Arizona State - Jackie Robinson Stadium, April 22 at 2 p.m., Dave Huff, LHP (4-2, 3.06) vs. Jeff Urlaub, LHP (5-0, 3.07)

UCLA vs. No. 10 Arizona State - Jackie Robinson Stadium, April 23 at 1 p.m., Tyson Brummett, RHP (5-4, 4.06) vs. TBA

Get After It: The UCLA baseball team (21-15, 5-4 Pac-10) returns to conference action with a big three-game Pac-10 series against No. 10 Arizona State (27-12, 6-3 Pac-10) beginning Friday, April 21 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA has won three-consecutive games, two-straight Pac-10 games, and is 8-1 in its last nine home games.

Long Beach State Recap: UCLA used seven different pitchers to grind out a 9-7 win over Long Beach State in a non-conference game on Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The win clinched UCLA's first sweep of Long Beach State in a home-and-home series for the first time since 1995.

Freshman Cody Decker went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run, Eric Taylor, Jr. went 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI, and freshman Jermaine Curtis went 2-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored. Senior Josh Roenicke went 2-for-4 with a RBI double.

Freshman Jason Novak tossed 2.2 innings in his first career start (pre-determined) to earn the win, giving up three runs on two hits with two strikeouts. Roenicke pitched 0.2 innings in the ninth to earn his fourth save of the season.

About the Sun Devils: The Arizona State University Sun Devils enter this week's crucial Pac-10 series with a 27-12 overall record, a 6-3 mark in the Pac-10, and a near consensus No. 10 ranking in the national polls. The Devils of the Sun have won four of their last six contests, and have yet to lose a Pac-10 series, winning two of three at Washington State, and at home against Washington and USC. ASU is 4-4 on the road so far this season. As a team, Arizona State bats .323 (447-1384), good for second in the Pac-10, with 25 home runs, 265 RBI, 287 runs scored, and 55 stolen bases in 66 attempts. The Sun Devils average a Pac-10 best 7.4 runs per game. ASU has nine players that bat .300 or better, led by Eric Sograd at .406 (41-101). The Sun Devil pitching staff owns a 4.72 team ERA with 325 strikeouts in 351.0 innings while holding opponents to a .265 batting average. Head Coach Pat Murphy is in his 12th year at the helm of the Sun Devil program.

The Arizona State-UCLA Series: Arizona State owns a 99-58 all-time series advantage over UCLA. The Bruins are 33-38 all-time against the Sun Devils at home. Since the 2000 season, UCLA is 6-12 versus the Sun Devils, winning only one of the last six series with ASU (at ASU in 2003). Arizona State swept the Bruins in a three-game set (5-12, 2-16, 8-10) last season at Packard Stadium. The last series win the Bruins had against ASU at home was in 1999 when UCLA swept the Sun Devils (11-10, 9-3, 8-6) at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Go For It: The Bruins have a chance to accomplish something that has only been done once in the last five seasons at UCLA - win three-straight Pac-10 series. UCLA enters this week with back-to-back Pac-10 series wins against Washington State and at Arizona under its belt. The last time the Bruins won three-consecutive Pac-10 series was in 2004 when UCLA closed out the Pac-10 schedule with series wins over Washington State, Washington, and Oregon State.

Turning Point: UCLA's season has made a change for the better since the Bruins played Long Beach State on Feb. 28, the same team UCLA beat 9-7 on Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Entering that February game, UCLA was 5-9 overall and fresh off being swept in three-games by Cal State Fullerton. The Bruins knocked off the No. 15 Dirtbags (6-3) that day, and went on to sweep No. 17 NC State on the road. Since Feb. 28, UCLA is 16-6.

Punch First: UCLA is quite successful when making the scoreboard light up first in a game. So far this season, the Bruins are 9-3 when scoring in the first inning, and 14-4 when scoring before the opposition in a game. UCLA is 7-11 when opponents score first in a game.

In the Fridge: When UCLA has a lead late in the ball game, the Bruins are pretty consistent at sealing the deal. So far this season, UCLA is 20-2 when leading after six innings of play, and a perfect 21-0 when owning the lead after eight innings. On the other side of things, UCLA is 0-9 when trailing after six innings and 0-13 when behind after eight innings of play.

Rank This: UCLA will be back in familiar territory this week when it plays No. 10-ranked Arizona State, as the Bruins will play a ranked opponent for the first time in 40 days. 18 of the Bruins' first 22 games this season were against nationally ranked opposition, with a streak of 12-consecutive games versus ranked opponents once in effect. UCLA is 9-9 against ranked opposition on the season. UCLA hasn't played a ranked foe in its last 14 games, earning a 10-4 record in that stretch.

Speaks For Itself: UCLA ranked in this week at No. 23 in the national RPI rankings, with a fourth-ranked strength of schedule.

Magic Numbers: So far this season, UCLA is 19-3 when scoring five or more runs in a ball game, and owns an 11-0 record when holding opponents to two runs or less. The Bruins are also 20-5 this season when recording eight or more hits in a game. UCLA is conversely 0-7 on the season when scoring one run or less, and 1-10 when recording seven hits or less in a game.

1-2 Step: UCLA has a knack for scoring runs early. So far this season, the Bruins have outscored the opposition 65-23 in the first two innings.

Home Run Tear: The Bruins have ripped a long ball in 18 of their last 23 games, knocking 30 jacks in that span, a stretch that included home runs in 13-consecutive games. UCLA has 38 home runs on the season, good for second in the Pac-10. 14 different Bruins have smacked round-trippers so far this season, with nine players already owning two-or-more home runs on the year (Ambriz 3, Babineau 3, Crawford 4, Decker 3, Jensen 4, McMillan 6, Smith 3, Stewart 4, Taylor, Jr. 3). UCLA is 17-5 this season when a Bruin homers in a game.

Big Innings: UCLA likes to score its runs in bunches, as the Bruins have scored three or more runs in an inning 32 times this season. 112 of UCLA's 218 total runs (51 percent) this season have come when posting three or more runs in an inning. Scoring three or more runs in an inning in a game translates into success for UCLA, as the Bruins are 17-1 this season when scoring three or more runs in an inning.

Hit Men: It its last five games, UCLA has posted double-digit figures in hits, batting .367 (66-180) during that span. The Bruins tallied 13 hits in last Sunday's 10-7 win over Washington State, 10 hits in Thursday's loss to Arizona, 15 hits in a 13-8 win over the Wildcats on Friday, and 17 hits in an 8-5 win over Arizona on Saturday, and 11 hits in its 9-7 win over Long Beach State. This stretch ties its season-high as the Bruins collected double-digit hits in a five-game span from March 12-19.

Multi-hitters: UCLA has three players with double-digit multi-hit games. Freshman Brandon Crawford leads the team with 16 multi-hit games, senior Chris Jensen has 14 multi-hit games, and junior Hector Ambriz has 12 games with two hits or more. Nine different Bruins have at least five or more multi-hit games, and 16 different Bruins have recorded multiple hits in a game this season a total of 102 times.

Dirtbag Destroyer: Freshman Cody Decker has been impressive in his two career games against Long Beach State. In the first game at Blair Field on Feb. 28, Decker went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, hitting the first home run of the season at Blair Field by an opponent. On Tuesday night, Decker followed that performance up with a two-run home run against the Dirtbags. In two career games against Long Beach State, Decker is hitting .429 (3-7) with two home runs, four RBI, two runs scored, and a 1.286 slugging percentage. Furthermore, Decker has been pretty good against Big West schools in general. In five games against Big West teams, Decker is hitting .385 (5-13) with three home runs and five RBI.

Saviors: The UCLA bullpen has been very versatile this season, as the 10 saves the ball club owns have been earned by the arms of four different pitchers, with each hurler owning at least two saves. Senior Josh Roenicke leads the team with four saves, and juniors Brant Rustich, Paul Oseguera, and Hector Ambriz each have two saves apiece.

Pac Man: Eric Taylor, Jr. has been killing Pac-10 pitching. In eight conference games, Taylor, Jr. is batting a team-best .571 (12-21) with two RBI, two doubles, and five runs scored. On the year, Taylor, Jr. is hitting .485 (16-33) with three home runs and 10 RBI, and has made starts at three different positions for UCLA (catcher, third base, first base).

R(BI)oenicke: Senior Josh Roenicke has been an RBI machine for the Bruins in Pac-10 play. Roenicke leads the Bruins with nine RBI in nine conference games, upping his season total to 13 RBI. He is second on the squad with a .357 (10-28) Pac-10 batting average. Roenicke has also doubled out of the bullpen for the Bruins, earning two of his four saves on the season in Pac-10 action. Roenicke nailed a RBI double in Tuesday night's game against Long Beach State, giving him 13 RBI in his last 13 games, and also earned his fourth save of the season.

Streaking: Josh Roenicke enters this week's Arizona State series riding an 11-game hit streak. Roenicke is hitting .350 (14-40) over that span, and needs a hit in his next game to move past freshman Brandon Crawford's 11-game hit streak from earlier this season for sole possession of UCLA's team-high for hits in consecutive games.

Stepping Up: Freshman Jermaine Curtis has been a major contributor to the Bruin lineup as he has filled in for Sean Smith at second base in the last three games. Curtis, a regular at third base, came in to score two runners with a base hit in Friday nights game at Arizona, and went 2-for-5 with a three-run triple in a start at second in Saturday's game. Friday marked the first time all season Curtis played second base, and Saturday's game was his first start of the season away from the hot corner. Curtis went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI in a start at second base against Long Beach State on Tuesday.

Huff Stuff: Junior Dave Huff gutted out a win for the Bruins on Friday night to earn his first complete game of the season. The line wasn't pretty, but Huff got the job done and then some. Huff went 9.0 innings with 11 strikeouts on 131 pitches, allowing eight runs (six earned) on 12 hits for the compete-game win. In his last four appearances, Huff has thrown 8.0 innings, 9.0 innings, 8.1 innings, and 9.0 innings, posting a 2-0 record with a 3.15 ERA, collecting 32 strikeouts in 34.1 total innings pitched.

Bring It: This season, UCLA isn't backing down from anyone which shows in the toughness of its schedule. The Bruins are set to play 32 games scheduled against teams that competed in the NCAA Regional Championships last season, with 11 teams listed in this year's preseason top-25 rankings.

UCLA will take on 12 teams that competed in the NCAA Regional Championships last year (Miami, Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, NC State, Ole Miss, UNLV, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Stanford, and Oregon State), and will have 18 games during the season against NCAA Super Regional participants (Miami, Cal State Fullerton, Ole Miss, Arizona State, USC, Oregon State).

The Bruins' tough schedule was noted with the No. 1 strength of schedule nod by Boyd's World, a baseball statistics internet site.

Up Next: UCLA will host the last game of its five-game home stand against UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, April 25 at 6 p.m.

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