UCLA Hosts USC For Three-Game Pac-10 Series

May 10, 2006

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Game Data:

UCLA vs. USC - Jackie Robinson Stadium, May 12, at 6 p.m., Hector Ambriz, RHP (6-5, 3.31) vs. Ian Kennedy, RHP (4-6, 3.73)

UCLA vs. USC - Jackie Robinson Stadium, May 13, at 4:30 p.m., Dave Huff, LHP (5-2, 2.75) vs. Tommy Milone, LHP (7-1, 5.19)

UCLA vs. USC - Jackie Robinson Stadium, May 14, at 4:30 p.m., Tyson Brummett, RHP (5-6, 4.84) vs. TBA

Get After It: Bragging rights and positioning in the Pac-10 standings will be on the line this week when the UCLA baseball team (25-20, 8-7 Pac-10) hosts cross-town rival USC (24-22, 10-8 Pac-10) for a three-game conference series beginning Friday, May 12 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins return home after a five game, 16-day road swing and will try to win their fifth-consecutive home series on the season.

Catch It On The Tube: The final two games of the UCLA-USC series will be televised live on Fox Sports Net. Saturday and Sunday's games will both be shown live at 4:30 p.m. with Bill MacDonald and John Jackson calling the action.

UC Santa Barbara Recap: UC Santa Barbara took advantage of four UCLA errors (a season high) to score four unearned runs and steal a 4-3 win over the Bruins on Tuesday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. Senior Josh Roenicke went 2-for-3 at the plate with a RBI, and freshman Jermaine Curtis went 1-for-3 with a RBI, in what was UCLA's first game after a week off.

About the Trojans: The University of Southern California Trojans will play a non-conference game at Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday before heading into the weekend series against the Bruins. USC enters Wednesday's contest with the Titans with a 24-22 overall record and a 10-8 mark in the Pac-10. The Trojans are in the middle of an 11-game road swing, and are 8-10 on the road so far this season. USC has lost eight of its last 10 games entering Wednesday. As a team, USC hits .315 (498-1579, third in the Pac-10) with 27 home runs, 293 RBI, 318 runs scored and 32 stolen bases in 58 attempts. The Trojan pitching staff owns a 4.79 team ERA with 276 strikeouts in 413.0 innings pitched while limiting the opposition to a .292 batting average. Head Coach Mike Gillespie is in his 20th season at the helm of the USC program.

The USC-UCLA Series: USC owns a 248-108 all-time series advantage over UCLA. Since the 2000 season, UCLA is 8-25 against the Trojans. The Bruins won Pac-10 series against USC in 2000 and 2004, both at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Last season, USC swept the Bruins at Dedeaux Field in a three-game series, outscoring UCLA 26-1.

Turning Point: UCLA's season has made a change for the better since the Bruins played Long Beach State on Feb. 28. 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 20-11 (.645).

Punch First: UCLA is quite successful when making the scoreboard light up first in a game. So far this season, the Bruins are 13-4 when scoring in the first inning, and 17-6 when scoring before the opposition in a game. UCLA is 8-14 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 23-3 when leading after six innings of play, and a perfect 24-0 when owning the lead after eight innings. Four different Bruins have two-or-more saves on the year, led by Senior Josh Roenicke with four. On the other side of things, UCLA is 1-13 when trailing after six innings and 0-18 when behind after eight innings of play.

Rank This: The UCLA baseball team was ranked in the national polls for the week of April 24-30. The Bruins entered the week ranked No. 22 in the nation by Baseball America, and No. 25 by the Rosenblatt Report. This week marked the first time since March of 2001 that UCLA has been ranked in the Top-25 by Baseball America.

Rank That: 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 11-10 against ranked opposition on the season, and owns a series sweep of then-No. 17 ranked NC State on the road, and home series wins against No. 19 Ole Miss and No. 10 Arizona State. The Bruins also swept Long Beach State in a home-in-home series for the first time since 1995.

Speaks For Itself: UCLA ranks in this week at No. 28 in the national RPI rankings, with a third-ranked strength of schedule.

Magic Numbers: So far this season, UCLA is 22-4 when scoring five or more runs in a ball game, and owns a 13-0 record when holding opponents to two runs or less. The Bruins are also 24-9 this season when recording eight or more hits in a game.

1-2 Step: UCLA has a knack for scoring runs early. So far this season, the Bruins have outscored the opposition 77-35 in the first two innings.

Home Cook'n: UCLA enters this weekend's series 16 days and five games removed from its last home game at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins are 14-10 at home so far this season and are 11-4 in their last 15 games at JRS. In their last 15 home games, the Bruins hit .315 (163-517) with 20 home runs, 117 RBI, and 128 runs scored for an average of 8.5 runs a game. On the season, UCLA is batting .298 (239-802) at home with 27 home runs and 167 runs scored (6.9 runs per game), with a 3.88 team ERA.

Ba Boom: The Bruins have ripped 33 long balls in their last 32 games, a stretch that included home runs in 13-consecutive games from Feb. 26-March 19. UCLA has 41 home runs on the season, good for third in the Pac-10. 14 different Bruins have smacked round-trippers so far this season, with nine players already owning three-or-more home runs on the year (Ambriz 4, Babineau 4, Crawford 5, Decker 3, Jensen 4, McMillan 6, Smith 3, Stewart 4, Taylor, Jr. 3). UCLA is 17-7 this season when a Bruin homers in a game. However, UCLA is 1-3 in its last four games when hitting a home run.

Power Outage: UCLA is currently riding a season long five-game homer-less stretch. The Bruins went homer-less in a three-game series for the first time this season at California, and failed to go yard at UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara. UCLA went four games without a home run was from Feb. 19-25, but the Bruins broke out of that drought by hitting 23 home runs in the next 13-consecutive games.

Big Innings: UCLA likes to score its runs in bunches, as the Bruins have scored three or more runs in an inning 38 times this season. 133 of UCLA's 266 total runs (50 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 20-2 this season when scoring three or more runs in an inning.

Good D: UCLA's defense has been superb this year as the Bruins entered this week ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 Conference with a .977 fielding percentage, a mark that was 8th-best in the nation. However, UCLA committed a season-high four errors at UC Santa Barbara, dropping the team fielding percentage to .975, which is now tied for tops in the Pac-10 with USC.

Winning Without HR: UCLA might be 8-13 on the season when not putting one over the fence in a game, but the Bruins have won six of their last nine games without going yard. UCLA won the last two games of the three-game series at Arizona without hitting a home run, won the last two games while going homerless against Arizona State, beat the Golden Bears in game one of that series sans a long ball, and knocked off UC Riverside last Tuesday minus a homer.

Multi-hitters: UCLA hitters are very efficient at knocking the ball around the park more than once in a game. 11 different Bruins have at least five or more multi-hit games, six different Bruins have at least 10 multi-hit games, and 16 different Bruins have recorded multiple hits in a game this season a total of 122 times. Freshman Brandon Crawford leads the team with 18 multi-hit games, senior Chris Jensen has 17 multi-hit games, and junior Hector Ambriz has 13 games with two hits or more.

Getting Past First: UCLA has knocked an extra base hit in 41 of its 45 games so far this year. The Bruins have smacked 141 extra base hits with 90 doubles, 10 triples, and 41 home runs. UCLA has hit at least one double in its last 16-conscutive games, a season-high, posting 38 two-baggers in that span. The Bruins are 18-6 when they post three-or-more extra base hits in a game.

Getting Some Props: UCLA has garnered Pac-10 Player of the Week honors four times so far this season. Every pitcher in the Bruin starting rotation has earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors, as junior Hector Ambriz (March 14), Dave Huff (April 25), and Tyson Brummett (March 7) have each been recognized as the conference's top hurler. Ambriz has also been named the Pac-10's Player of the Week (March 21).

Huff Stuff: Junior Dave Huff has been stellar for the Bruins all season long as the squad's Saturday starter. In his last outing, the Huntington Beach, Calif., native tossed 10.0 innings with three strikeouts, allowing two runs on seven hits with only one walk. Huff held the Golden Bears scoreless for the final nine innings in his outing, retiring 27 of the final 31 hitters that came to the plate.

Huff would shut down the Golden Bears after giving up a two-run home run in the first inning, as he retired 17-of-18 batters including 13-consecutive hitters before issuing a walk with one out in the seventh inning.

What was most impressive about Huff's performance was that he threw 130 pitches, 91 (70 percent) of which were strikes.

In five Pac-10 starts, Huff has tossed 45.1 innings, with a 2-0 record, a 2.45 ERA, and 36 strikeouts. Huff has gone nine or more inning in his last three-straight Pac-10 outings, and four of his five Pac-10 starts. On the season, Huff owns a 5-2 record with a 2.75 ERA, two complete-game victories, and 86 strikeouts in 98.1 innings pitched. Huff ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in ERA, second in innings pitched, and third in strikeouts.

Cool Breeze: Junior Hector Ambriz has been breezing by the opposition as of late. In his last six appearances, Ambriz owns a 2-1 record with a save, a 3.13 ERA, and 25 strikeouts in 31.2 innings pitched. On the season, Ambriz owns a 6-5 mark with a 3.31 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 84.1 innings of work. He ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in strikeouts, eighth in the Pac-10 in ERA, innings pitched and opponent batting average (.237).

Trojan Man: Senior Chris Jensen has had much success against the USC Trojans in his career. Although Jensen sat out last season's series against USC due to injury, and the 2004 season as a red-shirt, the 6-2 right fielder played seven career games against the Trojans from 2002-03. In those seven games, Jensen hit .412 (7-17) with a home run, two RBI, and four runs scored.

On Fire: Freshman Jermaine Curtis has been swinging the stick well as of late for UCLA. In his last 11 games, Curtis is hitting .410 with a team-high 16 hits, a double, a triple, a team-high eight RBI, and a .490 on-base percentage. On the season, Curtis is hitting .320 (32-100), good for second on the team, with a .438 on-base percentage.

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 next travel to UC Irvine for a non-conference game on Tuesday, May 16, before hosting Stanford for a three-game Pac-10 series beginning Friday, May 19.

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