No. 21 UCLA Baseball Set for Tuesday Night Contest at No. 17 Pepperdine

May 7, 2007

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LOS ANGELES - The No. 21 UCLA baseball team travels north up Pacific Coast Highway to face No. 17 Pepperdine at 3 p.m. on Tuesday in its final non-conference game of 2007. The Bruins enter Tuesday's contest having won 19 of their last 24 games. UCLA will send right-hander Garett Claypool to the mound at Eddy D. Field Stadium in Malibu, Calif.

UCLA - Garett Claypool (RHP) vs. Pepperdine - Robert Dickmann (LHP)

Claypool, freshman from West Hills, Calif., has tallied a 2-0 record and logged a 3.55 ERA in 45.2 innings this season (21 appearances). The right-hander has registered a 2.19 ERA in six starts - all on Tuesdays - accumulating 16 strikeouts while issuing just five walks. Overall, Claypool has limited opponents to a .232 average while striking out 28 hitters. Pepperdine sends left-hander Robert Dickmann to the mound. In 13 starts for the Waves this season, the sophomore southpaw has posted a 3.73 ERA in 70.0 innings, striking out 38 hitters and issuing 23 walks. Dickmann transferred to Pepperdine after pitching in six games as a freshman at UCLA last season.

The Bruins last faced the Waves on April 17, when UCLA recorded a 6-2 Tuesday-night victory at Jackie Robinson Stadium. This season, the Bruins have posted a 3-4 record on Tuesdays.

Last weekend, UCLA won its fifth-consecutive Pac-10 series to improve to 12-3 in conference play. The Bruins earned victories on Friday night and Saturday afternoon before falling to California in Sunday's series finale. In the three-game series against the Golden Bears, freshman Gabe Cohen led UCLA's offense hitting .500 (6-for-12) with three home runs and five RBI. Sophomore Cody Decker posted his second two-home-run performance of the year in Saturday's 7-2 win.

Freshman right fielder Gabe Cohen belted three home runs in the Bruins two victories against California. Friday night, Cohen cranked two homers in the Bruins' 13-6 win. Saturday afternoon, he crushed a two-run blast in the eighth inning. Cohen has ripped nine home runs and totaled 25 RBI this season. He boasts a .342 average with 26 runs and 27 RBI this season.

Sophomore first baseman Cody Decker has hit a team-leading 12 home runs this season, including two round-trippers in Saturday's 7-2 victory. Decker swatted two home runs in UCLA's 16-11 rout of Stanford on March 31. With his two blasts in Saturday's game, Decker became the first Bruin to eclipse the 10-home-run plateau since Ryan McCarthy totaled 15 home runs in 2004.

UCLA has won 19 of its last 24 games, the program's best 24-game stretch since 1997...the Bruins have won 12 of 15 games, highlighted by series wins over USC, Arizona and 12-3 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...from April 13-15, UCLA recorded its first-ever three-game series sweep at USC's Dedeaux Field...UCLA's 19-5 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 17-5 record. The sophomore from Fontana, Calif., has hit .455 (20-for-44) through UCLA's last 12 games. Curtis hit his first collegiate home run Friday, April 27, in the Bruins' 9-3 rout of Arizona. Just four days later, Curtis' second career home run gave UCLA a 3-2 lead at UC Irvine.

Freshman right-hander Garett Claypool has logged a 2-0 record and a 2.19 ERA in six starts this season. Last Tuesday, Claypool picked up the victory at then-No. 12 UC Irvine. In 24.2 innings as a starting pitcher, he has tallied 16 strikeouts and limited opponents to a .205 batting average. Claypool has made 15 relief appearances and boasts a 3.55 ERA in 45.2 total innings.

UCLA has been ranked No. 21 by Baseball America, No. 10 by Collegiate Baseball, and No. 24 by The Bruins climbed one spot in each of the three aforementioned polls after finishing last week with a 3-1 mark. One week ago, the Bruins jumped seven spots in Collegiate Baseball and moved from No. 25 to No. 22 in Baseball America after taking two of three from Arizona.

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 20 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 travels to Tempe, Ariz., for this weekend's series at Arizona State. The Bruins lead the Sun Devils by one game in the Pac-10 standings. Last season, the Bruins took two of three games against Arizona State at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Sun Devils did not play last weekend.

Sophomore Cody Decker has posted a stellar sophomore year, hitting .321 with a team-leading 12 home runs and 47 RBI. Earlier this season, Decker had an 11-game span where he belted eight homers. The slugger from Santa Monica, Calif. hit two home runs in UCLA's 7-2 victory on Saturday. 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.

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 .335 average with 14 doubles, two triples, 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 (Feb. 18) and a two-RBI single on an 0-2 count with two outs in the ninth at USC (April 14).

Junior Alden Carrithers has posted a fantastic first season at UCLA, hitting .339 in all 46 games. Carrithers has totaled 59 hits, 39 runs, 12 doubles, two home runs and 28 RBI as the Bruins' everyday second baseman. The Portland, Ore., native has stolen five bases on five attempts, has led UCLA with 25 walks and has registered a .439 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. Penniall, whose father (Dave) played baseball for the Bruins in 1975 and 1976, has played in 32 games (25 starts). The La CaƱada, Calif., native has hit 3-for-6 as a pinch-hitter. Overall, Penniall has totaled 33 hits, 16 runs, 13 RBI, 41 total bases and six stolen bases.

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 eight total starts this season. Last week, the Vista, Calif., resident earned his first collegiate save at UC Irvine and led UCLA past California, 7-2, with nine strikeouts in seven innings just five days later.

Sophomore Jermaine Curtis, senior Will Penniall and freshman Garett Claypool have excelled under the lights in 2007. Curtis is hitting .410 (16-for-39) with 18 RBI and nine runs in 10 night games. Through 13 night contests, Penniall has posted a .390 batting average (16-for-41) . Right-hander Garett Claypool has logged a 1.88 ERA, two victories and 22 strikeouts in 28.2 innings under the lights.

Center fielder Brady Dolan has not committed an error in 39 chances (39 putouts) and first baseman Casey Haerther also posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage (26 putouts, seven assists). Catcher Ryan Babineau has committed just two errors in 369 chances (327 putouts, 40 assists), registering a .995 fielding percentage. First basemen Tim Stewart and Cody Decker have tallied fielding percentages of .996 and .994, respectively. Each player has committed just one error.

Former Bruin Ben Francisco made his major league debut on Tuesday, May 1, with the Cleveland Indians. Francisco's major-league stay was short lived, as the former Bruin was optioned to Buffalo (AAA) two days later. Currently, eight former UCLA players are 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.

27 DOWN, 3 TO GO
Three home games remain in UCLA's 2007 schedule. The Bruins have tallied an 18-9 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 nine more Pac-10 games to be played, the Bruins will play at Jackie Robinson Stadium for one last weekend. 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 from May 25-27.

The Bruins have played their last 29 games in California. After Tuesday's game at Pepperdine, UCLA prepares for a three-game series at Arizona State (Tempe, Ariz.). The following week, the Bruins head north to face Washington State in Pullman, Wash. UCLA returns home May 25-27 for a three-game series against defending national champion Oregon State.

UCLA has not played any extra-inning games this season. In 2006, the Bruins won two of three extra-inning contests. The Bruins defeated Washington, 3-2, in 11 innings and topped Arizona State, 11-10, in 10 innings. Washington State edged UCLA, 4-3 in 10 frames. Under head coach John Savage, the Bruins have compiled a 4-3 record in extra-inning games.

Former UCLA right-hander Casey Janssen earned a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen. In 11 relief outings, Janssen has limited opponents to two runs off 14 hits while striking out three (through Sunday, May 6). He has tallied a 1.17 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).