UCLA Travels To UC Irvine On Tuesday

May 15, 2006

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Game Data:

UCLA at UC Irvine - Anteater Ballpark, May 16 at 6 p.m., Jason Novak, RHP (2-1, 4.65) vs. Gary Nakashima, RHP (2-1, 4.15)

Get After It: The UCLA baseball team (27-21, 10-8 Pac-10) travels to UC Irvine (32-18, 7-8 Big West) for a non-conference matchup with the Anteaters on Tuesday, May 16 at 6 p.m. UC Irvine is the last non-conference opponent UCLA will face during the regular season, as Tuesday's game will be the first of two games between the two teams in the next week.

USC Recap: UCLA won a crucial three-game Pac-10 series against arch-rival USC this past weekend to improve to 27-21 overall, and more importantly 10-8 in the Pac-10 standings. The Bruins dropped the first game of the series on Friday night, 8-6, but pounded the Trojans 8-3 on Saturday, and 12-1 on Sunday in two televised games by Fox Sports Net.

About the Anteaters: The UC Irvine Anteaters enter Tuesday's game with a 32-18 overall record, a 7-8 mark in the Big West, and as one of the hottest teams in the nation. UCI has won 13 of its last 15 games, and had its season-best nine-game winning streak snapped on Sunday at home against Pacific. The Anteaters are 19-9 at home so far this season. As a team, UCI hits .283 (466-1648) at the plate with 16 home runs, 242 RBI, 273 runs scored and 95 stolen bases in 134 attempts. The Anteater pitching staff owns a 3.44 team ERA with 362 strikeouts in 452.1 innings pitched while limiting opponents to a .261 batting average. Head Coach Dave Serrano is in his second season at the helm of the Anteater program.

The UC Irvine-UCLA Series: UCLA leads the all-time series with UC Irvine with a mark of 35-20-1. The Bruins swept the Anteaters last year in a home-and-home series, winning 3-1 at home on April 26, and 11-1 at UC Irvine on May 10. When UC Irvine restarted its baseball program in 2002, led by head coach John Savage, the Anteaters were 4-0 against the Bruins.

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 22-12 (.647).

Punch First: UCLA is quite successful when making the scoreboard light up first in a game. So far this season, the Bruins are 15-4 when scoring in the first inning, and 18-6 when scoring before the opposition in a game. UCLA is 9-15 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 25-3 when leading after six innings of play, and a perfect 26-0 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 1-14 when trailing after six innings and 0-19 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. 29 in the national RPI rankings, with a third-ranked strength of schedule.

Magic Numbers: So far this season, UCLA is 24-5 when scoring five or more runs in a ball game, and owns a 14-0 record when holding opponents to two runs or less. The Bruins are also 19-5 this season when recording 10 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 81-39 in the first two innings, outscoring opponents 45-20 in the first inning of games alone.

Ba Boom: The Bruins have ripped 37 long balls in their last 35 games, a stretch that included home runs in 13-consecutive games from Feb. 26-March 19. UCLA has 45 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 three-or-more home runs on the year (Ambriz 4, Babineau 4, Crawford 5, Decker 5, Jensen 5, McMillan 6, Smith 4, Stewart 4, Taylor, Jr. 3). UCLA is 19-8 this season when a Bruin homers in a game.

Power Surge: UCLA was riding a season long five-game homer-less stretch entering its three-game series with USC. 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. The Bruins broke out of their long-ball funk with four home runs in the series, one by senior Sean Smith on Friday, a home run each by senior Chris Jensen and freshman Cody Decker on Saturday, and a bomb by Decker on Sunday. 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 42 times this season. 145 of UCLA's 292 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 21-2 this season when scoring three or more runs in an inning.

UCLA scored three runs in an inning four different times against USC on Sunday, as the Bruins cruised to a 12-1 win over the Trojans.

Good D: UCLA's defense has been superb all year, as the Bruins entered this week ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 Conference with a .976 fielding percentage, a top-10 mark in the nation. UCLA committed a season-high four errors at UC Santa Barbara, dropping the team fielding percentage to .975. However, the Bruins committed just one error in three-games against the Trojans for a .991 fielding percentage in the series.

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 131 times. Freshman Brandon Crawford and senior Chris Jensen lead the team with 19 multi-hit games apiece.

Getting Past First: UCLA has knocked an extra base hit in 44 of its 48 games so far this year. The Bruins have smacked 156 extra base hits with 101 doubles, 10 triples, and 45 home runs. UCLA has hit at least one double in its last 19-conscutive games, a season-high, posting 49 two-baggers in that span. The Bruins hit 11 doubles and four home runs in their three-game series against USC. The Bruins are 20-7 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).

Home Cook'n: The Bruins are 16-11 at home so far this season and are 13-5 in their last 18 games at JRS. Entering their series with USC, the Bruins were hitting .315 (163-517) with 20 home runs, 117 RBI, and 128 runs scored for an average of 8.5 runs a game in their last 15 home games. Against the Trojans, UCLA hit .349 (37-106) in the three-game series, with 26 runs scored (8.7 per game) and a .441 on-base percentage. On the season, UCLA is hitting .304 (276-908) with 31 home runs and 193 runs scored for a 7.1 runs-per-game average.

Freshman Impact: Head Coach John Savage started five freshmen in the lineup on Saturday against USC, marking the 12th time this season UCLA has put five or more freshman in the starting lineup.

Lighting It Up: UCLA did a good job at lighting up the score board against USC in the three-game series. The Bruins scored in 14 of the 25 innings they batted in against the Trojans.

Got Five On It: UCLA took two-of-three games from USC to win its fifth-consecutive home series of the season. The Bruins had not won five-consecutive home series at Jackie Robinson Stadium since 1997.

Going The Distance: UCLA's starting pitching was phenomenal against USC, as the Bruins received back-to-back complete game victories from juniors Dave Huff and Tyson Brummett to clinch the series. On Saturday, Huff (6-2) earned his third complete game win of the season, allowing three runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts and just one walk, while throwing 123 pitches, 83 of which were strikes (67 percent).

On Sunday, Brummett (6-6) earned his first-career complete game victory allowing just one run on six hits with five strikeouts and no walks on 104 pitches in the game, 72 (69 percent) of which were strikes.

Great Way To Go Out: Senior Chris Jensen will never play rival USC on the baseball field again, and the Trojans are very thankful for that. The Bruin right fielder killed USC pitching this past weekend, providing some major pop for UCLA at the plate as the Bruins clinched the crucial Pac-10 series. In the three-game series, Jensen hit .571 (8-14) with a home run, two doubles, five RBI, and six runs scored. The San Diego, Calif., native was particularly hot at the plate in the two televised games of the series on Saturday and Sunday, both Bruin wins. In the last two games of his career against USC, Jensen hit .778 (7-9), going 3-for-5 at the plate with a home run, a double, and two RBI on Saturday, and 4-for-4 with a double, four runs scored and three RBI on Sunday.

Entering the series, Jensen was hitting .412 (7-17) with a home run, two RBI, and four runs scored in seven career games against USC.

On the season, Jensen is hitting .332 with a team-leading 65 hits, five home runs, and team-bests of 31 RBI and 42 runs scored.

Keep Their Headz Ringin: Freshman Brandon Crawford played very well in what was his first glimpse of the UCLA-USC rivalry. The 6-2 shortstop hit .455 (5-11) against the Trojans, with a double, and three runs scored. Crawford was most impressive with the glove, as he stole multiple hits away from Trojan hitters with his range and strong arm, including a phenomenal diving stop in the first inning of Sunday's game.

Batter Up: Simply put - all freshman Jermaine Curtis does is get on base. In the series against USC, Curtis hit .429 (3-7) at the plate with three runs scored, and an impressive .643 on-base percentage. Curtis was on base nine times against USC, as he was hit by three pitches and walked three times to go along with his three hits. In his last 15 games, Curtis is batting .426 (20-47) with a .524 on-base percentage.

Lights, Camera, Action: It seems like the camera brings out the best in freshman Cody Decker, who is an avid actor and movie maker when he isn't on the baseball field. In the two televised games against USC on Saturday and Sunday, Decker hit .444 (4-9) with two home runs, three RBI, and four runs scored. Decker now has five home runs on the season in 43 at bats.

Good Lookin' Deal: In the top of the third inning of Sunday's game against USC, senior Sean Smith made probably the best defensive play of the season for UCLA, if not the entire Pac-10. Smith made a spectacular diving glove flip to Crawford at shortstop to turn a 4-6-3 double play and end the inning, on live television nonetheless.

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).

So far this season, UCLA is 16-10 against those teams.

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 next host Stanford for a crucial three-game Pac-10 series at Jackie Robinson Stadium beginning Friday, May 19.

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