UCLA Baseball to Face No. 6 Cal State Fullerton Tuesday Evening
May 19, 2008
LOS ANGELES - UCLA closes its regular-season schedule this week, playing at Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday evening before opening a three-game Pac-10 series at California on Friday. The Bruins will send left-hander Matt Grace to the hill Tuesday at Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field. Earlier this season, UCLA dropped two mid-week games to the Titans.
Tuesday, May 20 - 6 p.m. - at Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field
UCLA's Matt Grace, LHP, Fr. (0-0, 3.24) vs. Cal State Fullerton's Kevin Rath, LHP, Fr. (1-0, 6.14)
TUESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
UCLA plays its final non-conference game of the regular season on Tuesday, facing No. 6 Cal State Fullerton at Goodwin Field. The Bruins lost a 7-1 decision to the Titans in Fullerton on March 4 and fell at home to Cal State Fullerton the following evening, 13-2. Bruin left-hander Matt Grace, who has compiled a 3.24 record in his freshman season, will face Fullerton's Kevin Rath, a freshman left-hander from Las Vegas, Nev. UCLA has registered a 5-6 record on Tuesday's this fall, after having downed No. 12 UC Irvine last Tuesday.
REMEMBER THE TITANS
Cal State Fullerton has won seven of its last eight games, including a three-game sweep of San Diego State last weekend. Entering Tuesday's game, Cal State Fullerton boasts a 35-17 overall record, a 22-7 home mark, and rests in first place in the Big West Conference with a 15-6 record. Cal State Fullerton has logged a .306 team average and a 4.34 earned-run average. Last June, the Titans eliminated UCLA in the NCAA Super Regional at Cal State Fullerton, two games to none.
PUSH FOR THE POSTSEASON
With just four games remaining on the schedule, the Bruins look to make a final push for their third consecutive postseason berth. UCLA won all four games last week (one at No. 12 UC Irvine, three at home vs. Washington State) to elevate its overall record to 29-23 and improve to 11-10 in Pac-10 play. The current conference standings feature six teams all within two games of each other. The Bruins are currently tied for third place with California, who awaits UCLA's arrival for a three-game series this weekend.
ON THE WEB
Each of UCLA's three games at California this weekend can be listened to online with an Internet radio broadcast available free of charge at uclabruins.com. Tim Wilhelm and Danny Lee will have the call. All remaining regular-season games can be followed live on CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com. Should UCLA advance to the NCAA Tournament, each of the Bruins' postseason games will be broadcast live at UCLA's official athletics website, uclabruins.com.
Second baseman Alden Carrithers earned team most valuable player honors and and left-handed reliever Brendan Lafferty captured team most valuable pitcher accolades at the Bruins' annual team banquet on Sunday evening. Carrithers has emerged as a legitimate All-America candidate and leads UCLA with a .378 average in 51 games. Lafferty ranks third among Pac-10 pitchers with 28 appearances (all in relief), and has compiled a 3-2 record and 3.92 ERA in 57.1 innings out of the bullpen.
MURPHY GETS IT DONE
Tim Murphy became a major factor in UCLA's success last week, helping lead the Bruins to four consecutive victories. Murphy earned the save, his first of the year, in a 6-4 win at UC Irvine on Tuesday. Three nights later, the left-hander from Vista, Calif., tossed seven scoreless innings, scattering two hits while striking out eight to notch the victory. The following afternoon, Murphy came off the bench to play center field and knocked home the game-winning run with a pop-fly single to center in the bottom of the 10th inning.
HITTING IT HAERTHER
First baseman Casey Haerther has collected nine home runs and a team-high 43 RBI in 50 games, Haerther leads the team with a .379 average in Pac-10 action. Last weekend against Washington State, Haerther batted .462, going 6-for-13 with three RBI. In the Bruins' Pac-10 series opener at Arizona, Haerther established a Pac-10 and UCLA single-game record, going 7-for-7 in a 20-8 win (March 29). Since then, Haerther has belted eight of his nine homers. Haerther enters the week ranking second in the Pac-10 with 19 doubles.
GETTING ON, GETTING IN
Shortstop Brandon Crawford leads all Bruins with 44 runs after having scored four times in UCLA's sweep of Washington State last weekend. In that series, Crawford was 4-for-9, drawing three walks and stealing two bases (in two attempts). The junior from Pleasanton, Calif., has started in each game (171) since arriving at UCLA for the 2006 season, compiling a career .315 average, including 18 home runs and 124 RBI.
THE REAL DEAL
Junior right-hander Jason Novak earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors on Tuesday, May 6, after having thrown seven scoreless innings in three appearances the previous week. In UCLA's four games last week, Novak earned one save in two appearances, allowing two runs and two hits in 5.1 innings. The Agoura, Calif., resident limited the opposition to a .118 average last weekend and has registered a .248 opponent batting average in 16 appearances this spring. Novak's 3.45 earned-run average ranks second lowest on the staff.
Cody Decker, who has started 42 games this spring (40 at designated hitter, two at first base), belted the first grand slam by a Bruin last Friday since accomplishing the feat in UCLA's 15-8 win over Pacific on March 24, 2007. Decker finished the weekend hitting at a .364 clip, going 4-for-11 with a team-leading six RBI. Decker was 3-for-4 at the plate in UCLA's 7-6, 10-inning victory Saturday afternoon against the Cougars.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
With four games remaining, the Bruins can accomplish more than punching its postseason ticket this week. The UCLA baseball program can earn its third consecutive postseason berth for the first time in school history. Two years ago, the Bruins advanced to the NCAA Regional at Pepperdine. Last season, UCLA swept the NCAA Regional at Long Beach State before falling to Cal State Fullerton in the Super Regional round. The baseball program last logged 30 wins or more in three consecutive seasons from 1999-2001. One more win allows UCLA to reach the 30-win plateau for the third straight year. Two more wins this season will give head coach John Savage his 200th career coaching victory (88 wins at UC Irvine, 110 at UCLA).
UCLA's pitching staff has compiled a 4.57 ERA in Pac-10 games (through Sunday), the third-best mark among all conference teams. Stanford entered Monday's game against Arizona with a 4.05 ERA, and Arizona had logged a 4.35 mark. The Bruins' pitchers have registered a .261 opponent batting average, tied with Stanford for the best mark in Pac-10 play prior to Monday's ballgame. Left-hander Tim Murphy's .216 opponent batting average ranks third-lowest among Pac-10 pitchers, in conference games only.
Sunday's game against Washington State marked the final home game for UCLA's four seniors. Second baseman Alden Carrithers (.378 avg, 4 HR, 42 RBI), catcher Brent Dean (.277 avg, 1 HR, 8 RBI) and outfielders Brady Dolan (.273, 1 HR, 16 RBI) and Mickey Weisser (.235 avg, 2 HR, 15 RBI) have become major contributors to UCLA's success. Carrithers has led the Bruins in most offensive categories all season and currently leads the team with a .378 average, .473 on-base percentage and 17 stolen bases.
Alden Carrithers has registered five four-hit efforts this season. No Bruin has tallied that many games with four or more hits since Brian Baron logged seven four-hit performances in 2001. That season, Baron finished the year with 33 multi-hit games - 19 two-hit efforts, seven three-hit contests and seven four-hit performances. Also, Casey Haerther's seven hits at Arizona (March 29) were the most hits in a game by a Bruin since Ryan McCarthy went 5-for-5 in 2004 against Arizona State (April 18).
Left-hander Brendan Lafferty enters the week having pitched in more games than all but two Pac-10 pitchers. Lafferty leads the Bruins with 28 appearances and earned two victories in a three-game span last week. In UCLA's 6-4, 10-inning win at UC Irvine, Lafferty limited the host Anteaters to two runs (one earned) and five hits in 3.1 innings of relief. Saturday afternoon, before a nationally-televised audience, Lafferty hurled three scoreless innings, scattering two hits while notching two strikeouts to record the victory. Lafferty has logged a 3.92 ERA in 57.1 innings, compiling 51 strikeouts and 25 walks in relief.
UCLA has posted a 4-2 record in six extra-inning games. UCLA lost a 12-inning game, 3-2, to Oklahoma in the nightcap of a season-opening doubleheader (Feb. 23). The Bruins outlasted UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings (Feb. 27) in a five-hour, 35-minute affair. UCLA edged Arizona, 4-3, in 10 innings (March 28) in the Bruins' Pac-10 season opener. UC Irvine downed the Bruins, 6-5, in 10 innings at Jackie Robinson Stadium (April 8). UCLA used a two-out rally, keyed by Brandon Crawford in the bottom of the 11th inning, to defeat UNLV, 8-7 (April 22). The Bruins defeated Washington State, 7-6, in 10 innings last Sunday.
Senior Brady Dolan has logged a .273 batting average, playing in 42 of 49 games this season. Dolan, a proud resident of Reno, Nev., has made 31 starts in the outfield - 14 in left, 10 in right and seven in center. Dolan redshirted as a freshman at UC Irvine in 2004, spent the 2005 season at Sierra College with teammate Mickey Weisser, and has flourished the past three seasons at UCLA. After seeing limited playing time in 2006, Dolan hit .280 in 39 games last season, going 6-for-14 in an eight-game span prior to Super Regionals. This spring, the fifth-year senior has batted .300 in Pac-10 play, scoring nine runs in 14 games.
HEAD OF THE PACK
Several Bruins rank among the league leaders, offensively, in Pac-10 games. First baseman Casey Haerther has belted 10 doubles, the most by any Pac-10 performer in conference action. Haerther is tied with USC's Grant Green and Stanford's Jason Castro for fifth-place on the Pac-10 list with a .379 batting average. Haerther's .667 slugging percentage is tied as the fifth-highest mark with Arizona's Brad Glenn. Second baseman Alden Carrithers ranks fifth in conference action with a .484 on-base percentage.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
UCLA has stolen 73 bases in 52 games this spring, the second-highest mark among Pac-10 teams. Arizona State leads the way with 82 steals, and Arizona follows the Bruins with 71 swipes. The Bruins have attempted 95 steals, the third-highest total in the conference. Second baseman Alden Carrithers leads UCLA with 17 stolen bases in 23 attempts (.739), and shortstop Brandon Crawford ranks second with 11 stolen bases in 17 attempts (647). First baseman Casey Haerther has swiped 10 bags in 12 attempts (.833).
UCLA was selected to finish third out of nine teams in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches' poll. The Bruins, currently tied for third place with No. 15 California, were slated to finish behind Arizona and Arizona State, respsectively. Arizona collected six of the nine first-place votes, and Arizona State picked up the remaining three votes. Last season, UCLA was chosen fourth in the preseason coaches' poll and finished third with a 14-10 mark in Pac-10 games.
Earlier this spring, UCLA became just the second team in the past two seasons to win a three-game series at Arizona, which currently boasts a 23-4 home mark. The Bruins took the first two of three games at Arizona (March 28-30) to open Pac-10 play. Last season, the Wildcats posted a 28-4 home record, losing one home series to USC. The weekend of April 25-27, UCLA won two of three games at Washington, where the Huskies had previously recorded an 18-5 home record with just one home series loss to Cal Poly.
NEWLY-NAMED STEELE FIELD
The baseball program dedicated the field at Jackie Robinson Stadium in honor of the Steele Foundation prior to a Pac-10 game against Arizona State on May 3. Thanks to a generous lead gift from the Steele Foundation, UCLA was able to renovate its field in the offseason with a major-league caliber playing surface.
2007 IN REVIEW
UCLA finished the 2007 season with its first trip to the NCAA Super Regionals since 2000 and totaled a 33-28 record. In the Super Regional, UCLA dropped both games to Cal State Fullerton (12-2 and 2-1). UCLA advanced after winning the Long Beach Regional, defeating No. 3-seed Pepperdine (7-3), No. 4-seed Illinois-Chicago (3-1) and No. 1-seed Long Beach State (7-4) at Blair Field.
Sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Justin Uribe will miss the remainder of the season with a left elbow injury (torn UCL). Freshman right-hander Dan Klein remains inactive with shoulder soreness. Freshman outfielder Jeff Rapoport (shoulder) missed the 2007 season with a shoulder injury and remains sidelined, along with freshman right-hander Erik Goeddel (elbow) and junior right-hander Tim Schlatter (shoulder).