UCLA Baseball Sustains Conference Hot Streak

April 30, 2007

By Bobby Gordon Daily Bruin

April 30, 2007

Los Angeles, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- The No. 18 Bruins continued one of the best runs in UCLA history with a series win at home against No. 12 Arizona this weekend. The Bruins won Friday 9-3 and Saturday 11-4 to clinch the series, before falling 5-3 to the Wildcats (32-11, 10-5) on Sunday.

The 12-game Pac-10 tear the Bruins (24-18, 10-2 Pac-10) are on is their most successful conference run in over 80 years. The last time a team in Westwood had such a successful season was in 1924 when the Bruins finished 10-0 in conference. Coach John Savage's team is redefining the term 'hot streak,' owning a 10-2 conference record by winning 16 of its last 20 games and 10 of its last 12.

'It says a lot about the character of the team,' Savage said. 'We lost a tough one today, but we've won every Pac-10 series, and we just gotta keep going.'

The first-place Bruins were one swing short of a perfect weekend. Up 3-2 in the top of the eighth on Sunday afternoon and poised for the sweep, UCLA's Gavin Brooks gave up a 3-run shot to first baseman C.J. Ziegler that put the Wildcats up 5-3, a score that would end up being the final.

'Besides that one pitch, (he did) an unbelievable job,' sophomore Tim Murphy said. 'The kid pitched his heart out.'

Before giving up the home run, Brooks had turned in a monster effort. The freshman threw a career-high 11 strikeouts, setting the new season-high mark for the UCLA pitching staff. Sophomore Tyson Brummett previously owned the title, throwing 10 strikeouts against Cal State Fullerton earlier in the year.

'When (the starters) go out and get the first strike, the first hitter, it's easy,' third baseman Jermaine Curtis said. 'It's a layup. ... They just pump strikes and we do our jobs. They give us ground balls, pop flies, and we win the ball game.'

Friday night, the complete-game machine that is Brummett (8-4) shut down the Wildcat bats and got the Bruins off to the right start. The staff ace threw his third complete game in an as many starts, increasing his total to a Pac-10-leading six on the season. He also recorded his fifth victory in his last five starts.

Brummett struck out six and gave up three runs as UCLA handled Arizona 9-3.

Arizona struck first when left fielder Diallo Fon scored on a sacrifice by designated hitter Bill Rhinehart. Curtis put UCLA back on top with a three-run shot, his first career home run as a Bruin.

'I was just sitting on it,' Curtis said. 'I just extended and the ball flew out.'

Arizona would never lead again, and Curtis finished the day 3-5 at the plate with a career-high four RBIs.

The sophomore has been a major contributor ever since his return to the lineup earlier in the season.

'We've turned it around ever since Jermaine's been back,' Savage said. 'He's given us a shot in the arm.'

Savage's pitching staff continued to dominate in the Bruins' 11-4 victory Saturday, with sophomore Tim Murphy (3-2) taking the mound and delivering six strong innings. In the winning effort, Murphy, who has solidified himself as the Saturday starter, threw nine strikeouts and gave up three runs to remain a perfect 3-0 in conference play.

With UCLA down 3-2 in the fifth inning, right fielder Gabe Cohen went yard to steal the lead, going up 4-3. The Bruins would tack on three more in the fifth and four in the seventh to take a secure 11-3 lead into the late innings and secure a sixth consecutive Pac-10 series at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

'We want to win every series,' Murphy said. 'We want to take care of (our) home, which we have done so far.'

The Bruins continue play at UC Irvine on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.

(C) 2007 Daily Bruin via CSTV U-WIRE

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