No. 22 UCLA Baseball to Host Cal in Penultimate Home Series of 2007

May 3, 2007

Los Angeles - At first place in the Pac-10 Conference, the No. 22 UCLA baseball team enters this weekend's three-game series against California having won 17 of their last 21 games. The Bruins have lost fewer Pac-10 contests than any other conference opponent. UCLA has swept Stanford and USC on the road and taken two of three games from Washington and Arizona to earn the top spot in the Pac-10 standings.

Friday - UCLA, Tyson Brummett (RHP) vs. Cal, Tyson Ross (RHP)
Saturday - UCLA, Tim Murphy (LHP) vs. Cal, Alex Rollin (RHP)
Sunday - UCLA, Gavin Brooks (LHP) vs. Cal, TBD

Senior right-hander Tyson Brummett takes the mound for UCLA on Friday and will face California right-hander Tyson Ross. Brummett earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors after throwing his sixth complete game of the season last Friday night against Arizona. The senior from Salem, Utah, has earned a victory in each of his last five starts and has recorded a complete game win in four of his last five starts. Brummett leads the Bruins' staff with 83 strikeouts in 98.0 innings pitched.

UCLA defeated UC Irvine, 4-2, at Anteater Ballpark Tuesday evening before 1,046 fans. Jermaine Curtis delivered a three-run home run on the ninth pitch of his fifth-inning at-bat to put the Bruins ahead, 3-2. Down in the count, 0-and-2, Curtis fouled off two pitches, took ball one and fouled off three more pitches before hitting his second career homer. Garett Claypool limited the Anteaters to two runs in five innings to earn his second victory, and UCLA's bullpen tallied eight strikeouts in the final four innings to preserve the win. Tim Murphy (2.1 IP, 5 K) earned his first career save.

Time is running out for fans to see the 2007 UCLA baseball team in action as the Bruins make their push toward the postseason. With just six home games remaining, the UCLA athletics department is offering a variety of promotions and giveaways at upcoming ballgames. UCLA baseball player trading cards will be given away to the first 250 fans at each home game. The Bruins offer free admission to all youngsters who attend UCLA baseball games in their Little League jerseys.

UCLA has won 17 of its last 21 games, the program's best 21-game stretch since 1997...the Bruins have won 10 of their last 12 games, highlighted by series wins over USC and 10-2 in the Pac-10, UCLA has registered its best conference start since the 1924 season...the Bruins have won seven of their last eight road games, including sweeps of USC and Stanford...UCLA has won six-consecutive conference road games for the first time since 1969...UCLA's 17-4 stretch began when the Bruins scored a school-record 14 runs in the eighth inning to overcome an 8-0 deficit against Pacific (March 25).

With third baseman Jermaine Curtis in the lineup, the Bruins have posted a 15-4 mark. The sophomore from Fontana, Calif., has hit .500 (14-for-28) through UCLA's last seven games. Curtis hit his first collegiate home run last Friday in the Bruins' 9-3 rout of Arizona. Just four days later, Curtis' second home run gave UCLA a 3-2 lead at UC Irvine.Last weekend against Arizona, Curtis hit .500 (6-for-12); the weekend prior, versus Cal State Northridge, he hit at a .545 clip (6-for-11) with five runs.

Ryan Babineau has logged a .405 batting average (17-for-42) in UCLA's last 12 games and recorded at least one hit in 10 of those contests. This season, the sophomore catcher from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., boasts a .297 average with four home runs and 26 RBI. Babineau leads all Bruins with a .442 average in Pac-10 play. He has played in all 43 games and started 41 as the Bruins' catcher. Last season, Babineau registered a .351 Pac-10 batting average in all 23 conference contests.

UCLA has been ranked No. 22 by Baseball America, No. 11 by Collegiate Baseball, and No. 25 by The Bruins climbed three spots and seven spots in the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball polls, respectively, with a series victory over Arizona. UCLA entered's weekly rankings for the first time since Feb. 26. UC Irvine has been ranked as high as No. 12 nationally in this week's college baseball polls (by Baseball America).

According to Boyd's World, a national strength of schedule ranking service, UCLA faces the third-most difficult schedule in the nation this season. The Bruins play 19 games against teams currently ranked in Baseball America's top-25 poll. Likewise, 50 of UCLA's 56 regular-season games are against teams either ranked in or receiving votes in Collegiate Baseball's preseason 'Fabulous 40' poll.

UCLA plays against Pepperdine next Tuesday, May 8, at Eddy D. Field Stadium in Malibu, Calif. The Bruins defeated the Waves, 6-2, on Tuesday, April 17 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA continues Pac-10 play that weekend (May 11-13) at Arizona State. Last season, the Bruins took two of three games against the Sun Devils at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Sophomore Cody Decker has posted a stellar sophomore year, hitting .320 with a team-leading 10 home runs and 41 RBI (tied for the team lead with Brandon Crawford). Decker had an 11-game span where he belted eight homers. He captured Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for the week of April 9-15 after hitting .538 at USC. Against the Trojans, Decker hit one home run in each of three games. In 36 games this season (31 starts), Decker compiled a .631 slugging percentage.

Sophomore Brandon Crawford has been selected to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List and the Dick Howser Trophy Watch List. In addition, Crawford has been tabbed on the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award 'Revised' Watch List. The sophomore from Pleasanton, Calif., has registered a .341 average with 14 doubles, five home runs and 41 RBI. Crawford's late game heroics have included a game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning against East Carolina (Sunday, Feb. 18) and a two-RBI single on an 0-and-2 count with two outs in the ninth at USC (Saturday, April 14). The Bruins' everyday shortstop has reached base via a hit in 36 of UCLA's 43 games.

Junior Alden Carrithers has posted a fantastic first season at UCLA, hitting a team-best .352 in all 43 games. Carrithers has totaled 58 hits, 38 runs, 11 doubles, two home runs and 28 RBI as the Bruins' everyday second baseman. The Portland, Ore., native has stolen five bases on five attempts and leads UCLA with 22 walks and a .442 on-base percentage. Carrithers arrived to Westwood as a transfer from UC Santa Barbara, where he earned All-Big West honors as a sophomore last season.

Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup and currently boasts a .330 batting average. In last Sunday's 5-3 loss to Arizona, Penniall robbed a home run from Hunter Pace in the third inning as he lept and caught the ball as it sailed over the wall. The La Cañada, Calif., native has been a great asset to the team as a starter and coming off the bench. Hitting 3-for-6 as a pinch-hitter, Penniall has totaled 30 hits, 14 runs, 13 RBI, 37 total bases and five stolen bases in 29 games (22 starts).

Sophomore left-hander Tim Murphy has emerged as one of UCLA's most productive pitchers this season. A coveted two-way player in high school, Murphy made his collegiate pitching debut at Miami on Sunday, Feb. 11. He earned his first start in UCLA's 7-6 win at Ole Miss (March 10) and has made seven total starts this season. Murphy has tallied 42 strikeouts in 33.2 innings as a starter.

Freshman left-hander Gavin Brooks has started in each of UCLA's three-game series finales, traditionally played on Sundays. Brooks has recorded a 3-5 record and a 4.50 ERA through 68.0 innings, the second-highest total on the staff. Last Sunday, the Vista, Calif., resident struck out a career-best 11 hitters in eight innings, allowing five runs (one earned) against Arizona in UCLA's 5-3 loss.

Sophomores Jermaine Curtis and Brandon Crawford and freshman Garett Claypool have excelled under the lights in 2007. Curtis is hitting .400 (14-for-35) with 16 RBI and eight runs in nine night games. Through 21 night contests, Crawford has posted a .346 batting average (28-for-81) with six doubles and three home runs. Right-hander Garett Claypool has logged a 1.88 ERA, two victories and 22 strikeouts in 28.2 innings under the lights.

Former Bruin Ben Francisco made his major league debut on Tuesday, May 1, with the Cleveland Indians. The UCLA standout was a defensive replacement for Trot Nixon in right field as the Indians downed Toronto, 12-4. Francisco joins eight other former Bruins on major league rosters - Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Eric Byrnes (Arizona), Jeff Conine (Cincinnati), Troy Glaus (Toronto), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Adam Melhuse (Oakland), Dave Roberts (San Francisco) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia).

Sophomore Blair Dunlap and freshman Jeff Rapoport are unavailable to play due to shoulder injuries. Senior Nolan Rouse (arm) and Tim Stewart (hand) are unavailable to play.

UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches poll. The Bruins were picked to finish behind Arizona State, Oregon State, and Stanford, respectively. Last season, UCLA was selected eighth in the preseason poll and finished third in the Pac-10 with a 13-10 conference mark (33-25 overall).

UCLA finished 12-4 in April, the most victories in one month since the Bruins collected 14 wins in February 1997. UCLA last won 12 or more games in April in 1982, when the Bruins finished the month with a 13-8 record. Last month, Ryan Babineau led the Bruins offense with a .375 average and four home runs. Cody Decker belted six home runs and totaled 24 RBI in 16 games.

The Bruins jumped out one of their best starts in conference play when they won 10 of their first 11 Pac-10 games. UCLA's best-ever conference start (and finish) took place in 1924, when the Bruins finished their conference slate with a 10-0 mark. After starting 5-0 in the Pac-10 over three weeks ago, UCLA was off to its best conference start since 1977, when the Bruins began their Pac-8 schedule with a 5-0 mark before ending the season 10-8 in the conference.

The Bruins made history on Sunday, March 25 against Pacific. Trailing 8-1 in the eighth, UCLA posted a school-record 14-run inning to defeat the Tigers, 15-8. Sophomore Cody Decker inititated the Bruins' heroics with a grand slam and finished with five RBI. UCLA had previously scored 13 runs in one inning - versus Winthrop on Feb. 4, 2007 and against Arizona State on Feb. 28, 1997.

One weekend after the series win against Pacific, UCLA became the first team to sweep Stanford at Sunken Diamond in a three-game regular-season series since Arizona State accomplished the feat in 1997. Stanford had not been swept at home in its previous 71 home series. UCLA had not swept the Cardinal on the road since 1991 and had not swept a series against Stanford since 1997.

24 DOWN, 6 TO GO
Six home games remain in UCLA's 2007 schedule. The Bruins have tallied a 16-8 mark at Jackie Robinson Stadium, UCLA's best home record since 2000, when the baseball team ended its home slate with a 20-10 record (.667 win percentage). While UCLA's regular-season schedule shows many more Pac-10 games to be played (12), the Bruins will play at Jackie Robinson Stadium for two more weekends. Following road trips to Arizona State (Tempe, Ariz.) and Washington State (Pullman, Wash.), the Bruins will return home to host 2006 NCAA Champion Oregon State for three games (May 25-27).

Former UCLA right-hander Casey Janssen earned a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen. In 10 relief outings, Janssen has limited opponents to two runs off 12 hits while striking out two (through Sunday, April 29). He has tallied a 1.32 ERA in 13.2 innings pitched. The former Bruin earned his first major league save on April 8, striking out one without allowing a hit in 2.0 scoreless innings.

Five former Bruins were rated as the top prospects in their respective MLB organizations. Dave Huff, last season's ace, has been ranked the No. 10 prospect in Cleveland's organization. Hector Ambriz, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2003, 2005-06), has been tabbed the No. 22 prospect in Arizona's farm system. Wes Whisler, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2002-04), is rated the No. 29 prospect in the Chicago White Sox organzation. Ben Francisco (2001-02) and Paul Oseguera (2005-06) have each earned honorable mention prospect accolades (Cleveland and San Francisco, respectively).

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