UCLA Baseball Back on the Road to Face Washington State

May 16, 2007

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LOS ANGELES - UCLA continues its Pac-10 slate with a three-game series at Washington State this weekend. Friday's game time has been moved up to 3:30 p.m., as the series opener will be televised live on FSN Prime Ticket and FSN Northwest. The Bruins will send senior right-hander Tyson Brummett to the hill in the series opener. UCLA occupies second place in the Pac-10 standings with six games remaining.

Friday - UCLA, Tyson Brummett (RHP) vs. WSU, Wayne Daman Jr. (RHP)
Saturday - UCLA, Tim Murphy (LHP) vs. WSU, Nick Ison (RHP)
Sunday - UCLA, Gavin Brooks (LHP) vs. WSU, TBA

The Bruins were swept at No. 10 Arizona State last weekend, as the Sun Devils outscored UCLA, 32-28, in three Pac-10 games. UCLA overcame an early 7-1 deficit Friday before Arizona State rallied to win, 16-14. Sophomore left-hander Tim Murphy recorded 14 strikeouts Saturday and exited the game with a 4-3 lead. UCLA dropped a back-and-forth series finale, 11-10, Sunday afternoon.

UCLA pitchers Tyson Brummett and Tim Murphy have posted Pac-10 pitching records of 4-0 and 5-0, respectively. Brummett has been named Pac-10 pitcher of the week three times. The Salem, Utah, resident transferred to UCLA prior to the 2006 season from Central Arizona CC. Brummett has totaled a 3.40 overall ERA and leads the staff with 95 strikeouts in 111.1 innings pitched.

Sophomore left-hander Tim Murphy has bolstered UCLA's pitching staff, posting a 1.59 ERA in his last five appearances (three starts, 17.0 innings). Last Saturday, Murphy struck out a career-high 14 hitters after recording nine strikeouts against California one week earlier. The Vista, Calif., native's 14 strikeouts is the most by any UCLA pitcher this season. As a starting pitcher, Murphy has recorded a 4-1 record and a 4.62 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 48.2 innings.

The Bruins scored a school-record 14 runs in the eighth inning March 25 against Pacific to rally from an 8-0 deficit and win 15-8. UCLA has won 20 of its last 28 contests and raised its team batting average 33 points in that span, which has seen two seven-game win streaks. UCLA swept Stanford on the road for the first time since 1991, swept USC in a three-game series at Dedeaux Field for the first time ever, and earned Pac-10 series victories over Washington, California and Arizona.

UCLA has advanced to the College World Series in 1997 and 1969, and several feats accomplished by the 2007 squad parallel those seasons. UCLA recorded a 19-4 record in a 23-game stretch in March and April, marking the best such span by any Bruin baseball team since 1997. The Bruins won six-consecutive road games (at USC, at Stanford) for the first time since 1969.

With third baseman Jermaine Curtis in the lineup, the Bruins have posted an 18-8 record. The sophomore from Fontana, Calif., leads all Bruins with a .362 average in 26 games. Prior to Curtis' return, UCLA had compiled a 10-14 mark. After having played 71 games at UCLA without hitting a home run, Curtis has belted three round-trippers in his last 11 games.

Sophomore shortstop Brandon Crawford hit .550 in four games last week, finishing 11-for-20 at the plate with a 3-for-5, five-RBI performance on Sunday. Crawford tallied two or more hits in each of UCLA's four games. The Pleasanton, Calif., resident boasts a .356 batting average and leads UCLA in hits (73), runs (45), doubles (16), triples (2), RBI (50), total bases (111) and stolen bases (11).

Alden Carrithers, Gabe Cohen, Brandon Crawford and Jermaine Curtis have led the team in batting average over the last 10 games. Carrithers, Curtis and Cohen have each tallied a .385 mark (15-for-39) and Crawford has hit at a .370 clip in that span. In those 10 games, Curtis leads UCLA with 12 RBI, 10 runs and a .500 on-base percentage.

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.

The Bruins have won 20 of their last 28 games, a span that has seen an increase in offensive production. UCLA's hitters have hit .317 in the last 28 games after opening the first 22 contests with a .263 average.

UCLA returns home the following weekend to conclude its regular-season schedule against defending national champion Oregon State. The Bruins open the three-game series Friday, May 25, at 6 p.m. Last season, UCLA and Oregon State split two games (Saturday's game was rained out). In 2006, Ryan Babineau and Cody Decker each hit .400 (2-for-5) in Corvallis, Ore.

Sophomore first baseman Cody Decker has flexed his muslces this season, totaling 13 home runs in 43 games. Decker has averaged one home run in every 11.5 at-bats. The Santa Monica, Calif., native has hit two home runs in two games (March 30, at Stanford; May 6, vs. California). He has become the first Bruin to eclipse the 10-home-run plateau since Ryan McCarthy totaled 15 home runs in 2004.

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. 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 strong first season at UCLA, hitting .344 in all 50 games as the Bruins' everyday second baseman. The transfer from UC Santa Barbara has totaled 65 hits, 44 runs, 13 doubles, two home runs and 29 RBI. The Portland, Ore., native has stolen five bases on five attempts, has led UCLA with 28 walks and has registered a .438 on-base percentage. While at UC Santa Barbara, Carrithers earned All-Big West honors as a second baseman.

Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup and currently boasts a .327 batting average. Penniall, whose father (Dave) played baseball for the Bruins in 1975 and 1976, has played in 36 games (29 starts). Last Friday at Arizona State, Penniall hit UCLA's only inside-the-park home run of the season. The La Cañada, Calif., native has hit 3-for-6 as a pinch-hitter. Overall, Penniall has totaled 37 hits, 21 runs, 14 RBI, 49 total bases and six stolen bases.

Freshman right-hander Garett Claypool has tallied a 3.63 ERA in 23 appearances (seven starts). The West Hills, Calif., resident has recorded a 1.82 ERA as a starter, registering 20 strikeouts in 29.2 innings through seven starts. Claypool has posted a 3-0 record as a starting pitcher, and most recently earned the victory by pitching five scoreless innings at Pepperdine on Tuesday, May 8. In his collegiate debut against UC Riverside (Feb. 13), Claypool did not allow one hit in three scoreless innings as UCLA won, 3-2.

Sophomores Jermaine Curtis and Brandon Crawford and senior Will Penniall have played well under the lights this season. Curtis and Penniall are both hitting .396 (19-for-48) at night, and Crawford has hit at a .347 clip in 24 night games. Freshman Gabe Cohen has hit a team-leading five home runs in the evening, and Curtis leads all Bruins with 20 RBI under the lights. Freshman Garett Claypool has been most effective at night, limiting opponents to a 1.98 average while totaling a 2.70 ERA.

Center fielder Brady Dolan has not committed an error in 39 chances (39 putouts) and first baseman Casey Haerther has also posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage (26 putouts, seven assists). Catcher Ryan Babineau has committed just two errors in 410 chances (363 putouts, 45 assists), registering a .995 fielding percentage. First basemen Tim Stewart and Cody Decker have tallied fielding percentages of .996 and .995, 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 to 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.

Baseball America selected UCLA as its preseason pick to win the Pac-10 title. B.A. projected UCLA to join Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was selected to its preseason All-Pac-10 Team, and right-handed pitcher Charles Brewer was listed as the Pac-10's fifth-best newcomer. The magazine projected Brant Rustich as the Pac-10's ninth-best pro prospect (2007). In its ranking of 'best tools' in the Pac-10, Baseball America named Crawford as the 'best athlete,' 'best defensive shortstop' and infielder with the 'best arm.' Ryan Babineau was listed as the catcher with the 'best arm,' Jermaine Curtis as 'best defensive third baseman,' right-hander Tyson Brummett with the 'best changeup' and outfielder Jeff Rapoport as the 'fastest runner.'

Sophomore Brandon Crawford spent his summer playing for the U.S. National Team and helped lead Team USA to the FISU (International University Sports Federation) World Championship after the club posted a 28-2-1 overall mark. Crawford played in 23 games, starting 10, and hit .257 (9-for-35). He collected two doubles, six RBI, seven runs, three walks and one stolen base.

The Bruins played a stretch of 30 games in California prior to last weekend's three-game series at Arizona State. UCLA played in the Golden State from March 13 through May 8. Next weekend, the Bruins return home 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 has earned a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen. In 14 relief outings, Janssen has limited opponents to two runs and 17 hits while striking out five (through Monday, May 14). He has tallied a 0.93 ERA in 19.1 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, and tallied his first major league win on May 14.

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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