UCLA Baseball Opens NCAA Regional Play Versus Virginia

May 29, 2008

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FULLERTON, Calif. - The UCLA baseball team will make its third consecutive NCAA postseason appearance for the first time in program history on Friday (4 p.m.), as the No. 2-seed Bruins take on No. 3-seed Virginia. All games at this weekend's Fullerton Regional will be televised live on ESPNU.

Friday, May 30 - 4 p.m. - at Cal State Fullerton's Goodwin Field (TV - ESPNU)
Virginia's Jacob Thompson, RHP, Jr. (6-4, 4.40) vs. UCLA's Tim Murphy, LHP, Jr. (5-6, 3.52)

Friday, May 30
4 p.m. - No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 3 Virginia (Game 1)
8 p.m. - No. 1 Cal State Fullerton vs. No. 4 Rider (Game 2)

Saturday, May 31
4 p.m. - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (Game 3)
8 p.m. - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (Game 4)

Sunday, June 1
4 p.m. - Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 (Game 5)
8 p.m. - Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5 (Game 6)

Monday, June 2
8 p.m. - Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5 (Game 7, if necessary)

No. 1-seed Cal State Fullerton
Overall Record: 37-19
Big West Record: 16-8

No. 2-seed UCLA Bruins
Overall Record: 31-25
Pac-10 Record: 13-11

No. 3-seed Virginia
Overall Record: 38-21
ACC Record: 15-15

No. 4-seed Rider
Overall Record: 29-26
MAAC Record: 13-10

- UCLA posted a 31-25 overall record and finished third in the Pac-10 Conference with a 13-11 mark.
- UCLA has earned its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time in program history.
- The Bruins won six of their final eight games, including five of their final six Pac-10 meetings.
- UCLA handed Arizona and California their only three-game home series losses of the season.
- The Bruins have compiled an all-time 33-28 record in 15 NCAA Tournaments (33-20 in Regionals).
- UCLA's pitchers have compiled a 4.43 ERA, the second-lowest team ERA at UCLA in the last 16 years.

ESPNU will televise all games at the Fullerton Regional live from Goodwin Field. Clay Matvick and Kyle Peterson will have the call on ESPNU. Check local listings for ESPNU's channel on your satellite or cable network. In addition, an Internet audio broadcast of all UCLA games at the Fullerton Regional will originate from UCLA's athletics website, uclabruins.com. UCLA's Danny Lee and Tim Wilhelm will provide the broadcast.

UCLA entered the final two weekends of the season needing to win each of its final two Pac-10 series. Following a 6-4, mid-week victory at No. 12 UC Irvine, the Bruins swept a three-game series against Washington State at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA dropped their final mid-week game of the season, a 12-8 decision at No. 6 Cal State Fullerton, before rebounding with back-to-back shutouts at No. 15 California last Friday and Saturday. UCLA lost its regular-season finale, 7-6 in 10 innings, after erasing a 4-0 deficit in the eighth inning.

The Bruins' roster features 15 players with postseason experience, as the core group of veterans filled the starting lineup as freshmen at the 2006 Malibu Regional. Third baseman Jermaine Curtis has logged a .379 batting average in 29 at-bats, starting all eight postseason games the past two seasons (three in 2006, five in 2007). Cody Decker, Ryan Babineau and Brandon Crawford have also started in each of UCLA's last eight postseason contests. Last spring, five players were named to the All-Regional team at Long Beach State.

UCLA hurled consecutive shutouts at No. 15 California last weekend, becoming the first Bruin ballclub to accomplish that feat since 1978. Tim Murphy, slated to start Friday against Virginia, tossed his second complete game shutout of the season on May 23. Murphy became the first Bruin to hurl two or more complete game shutouts in one season since 1983 (Jeff Pries). UCLA blanked California, 7-0, Saturday as Charles Brewer scattered three hits in 5.2 scoreless innings to earn his team-leading eighth win.

Second baseman Alden Carrithers has led the Bruins at the plate all season. Carrithers, who earned team most valuable player honors at the team banquet, has posted a team-leading .380 batting average and .490 on-base percentage. One of 50 Golden Spikes Award semifinalists, Carrithers has logged the highest on-base percentage (.490) by any Bruin since Troy Glaus led the 1997 squad with a .520 mark in 67 games. Carrithers has registered the highest batting average by any UCLA player since Brian Baron hit .443 in 2001.

First baseman Casey Haerther has logged a .326 batting average with team-highs of 10 home runs, 49 RBI, 22 doubles, 126 total bases and 49 RBI. Haerther set Pac-10 and UCLA single game records with his 7-for-7 effort at then-No. 6 Arizona, as he tallied four doubles, three singles, four runs and four RBI in UCLA's 20-8 victory. In that game, Haerther established the record for most hits in a game (Pac-10 and UCLA records). Haerther finished the regular season having registered an 18-game hitting streak in Pac-10 games.

UCLA's pitching staff, under the guidance of fourth-year head coach John Savage, has totaled a 4.43 earned-run average, the third-lowest mark in the Pac-10. Led by left-hander Tim Murphy (5-6, 3.52 ERA, 107 K) and right-hander Charles Brewer (8-4, 5.09 ERA, 64 K), the Bruins' pitching staff has logged 423 strikeouts in 506.1 innings (7.5 per nine innings). Murphy has earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors each of the past two weeks and currently boasts a 16.2 scoreless innings streak. Brendan Lafferty, named the team's most valuable pitcher, has made a team-high 31 appearances (54 K in 63.0 IP, 4.00 ERA).

The Bruins enter postseason action with a 12-12 road record and 13-12 overall mark away from Jackie Robinson Stadium (one neutral site win). UCLA won three of four Pac-10 series this spring after having won two of three games at California last weekend. With that series victory, UCLA became the only team this season (third team in three years) to win a three-game series at California - the Golden Bears totaled a 21-7-2 home record. The Bruins opened Pac-10 play at Arizona (March 28-30), handing the Wildcats their only home series loss - Arizona finished with a 25-5 home record. UCLA became the second team in the past two seasons to win a three-game series at Arizona (USC, 2007). 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.

The 2008 season marks the first year under head coach John Savage in which the Bruins have officially named team captains. Juniors Ryan Babineau, Jermaine Curtis and Tim Murphy have served as team captains this spring, after having led UCLA to the postseason as freshmen in 2006 and sophomores in 2007. Babineau has played in 157 career games, making 151 starts, as the Bruins' primary catcher each of the last three seasons. Curtis has been a spark at third base and at the plate for UCLA since arriving in Westwood in the fall of 2005, totaling a .317 career batting average in 143 games (137 starts). Murphy spent his freshman season as an outfielder before excelling on the mound the past two years.

UCLA's success the past three seasons can be largely attributed to head coach John Savage's first full recruiting class, a group of student-athletes who enrolled at UCLA in the fall of 2005 and completed their first season in 2006 (10 of those players remain on the team). Savage's first recruiting class at UCLA was ranked fifth-best in the nation by Baseball America. Anchored by starters such as Brandon Crawford, Jermaine Curtis, Ryan Babineau, Tim Murphy and Cody Decker, this group of freshmen in 2006 helped lead UCLA to the Malibu Regional at Pepperdine. Savage's second recruiting class was ranked No. 13 by Baseball America (first played in 2007), and his most recent class was tabbed No. 7 by the publication.

Junior shortstop Brandon Crawford has started all 175 games (173 at shortstop, two at designated hitter) in his three seasons at UCLA. Crawford has compiled a .296 batting average, 11 doubles, five home runs, 45 RBI and a team-best 48 runs in 56 starts at shortstop this spring. A five-tool player with superb defensive range and a strong arm, Crawford has been a key member of UCLA's three consecutive postseason appearances. The Pleasanton, Calif., resident carries a .317 career batting average and a team-leading 130 career RBI into this weekend's action at Cal State Fullerton.

UCLA's four seniors have played integral roles on the team this season. Second baseman Alden Carrithers (.380 avg, 5 HR, 45 RBI) has led UCLA at the plate all season and has shown power, hitting five home runs and 15 doubles, as well as terrific speed, stealing 17 bases in 23 attempts. Catcher Brent Dean (.288 avg, 1 HR, 10 RBI) has started 24 games behind the plate, alternating time with junior Ryan Babineau. Outfielder Brady Dolan (.281, 1 HR, 17 RBI) has started 31 games in the outfield, and outfielder Mickey Weisser (.241 avg, 2 HR, 16 RBI) has recorded a .388 on-base percentage in 37 games (24 starts).

Junior right-hander Jason Novak has compiled a 1-1 record, 3.72 ERA and three saves in 17 relief appearances. Novak, who hails from Agoura, Calif., has limited the opposition to a .194 batting average in UCLA's last 16 games (Novak's last nine appearances). In his third season with the Bruins, Novak has pitched in 64 career games, logging a 5-2 record and 4.72 ERA at UCLA. Novak earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors on May 6, after having thrown seven scoreless innings in three appearances the previous week.

Alden Carrithers leads the offense with 23 multiple-hit games (including five four-hit efforts) and 14 multiple-RBI efforts. No Bruin has tallied that many games with four or more hits since Brian Baron logged seven four-hit performances in 2001. Carrithers has hit safely in 44 of 55 games and has totaled separate hit streaks of 11 and 10 games. Carrithers spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons playing baseball at UC Santa Barbara, where he totaled a .317 average over both seasons. Each of the last two summers, Carrithers has played in the Cape Cod League, where he helped lead Yarmouth-Dennis to the 2006 Cape Cod League title.

Left-hander Brendan Lafferty enters the weekend having pitched in 31 games (all in relief), tied with two players for the most appearances among all Pac-10 pitchers. Lafferty earned two victories in a three-game span two weeks ago. In UCLA's 6-4, 10-inning win at UC Irvine (May 13), Lafferty limited the host Anteaters to two runs (one earned) and five hits in 3.1 innings of relief. Before a nationally-televised audience against Washington State (May 17), Lafferty hurled three scoreless innings, scattering two hits to pick up the win.

UCLA's fourth-year head coach John Savage earned his 200th career victory on Saturday, May 24, as the Bruins blanked No. 15 California, 7-0. Savage totaled 88 wins in three seasons as the head coach at UC Irvine before registering 112 wins the past four years at UCLA. Savage registered his 100th career victory as UCLA's head coach on Sunday, April 20, in an 8-2 victory over No. 10 Stanford.

Cody Decker, who has started 46 games this spring (41 at designated hitter, four at first base, one in left field), leads all Bruins with 26 career home runs. The Santa Monica, Calif., resident enters this weekend having registered seven home runs and 30 RBI in 50 total games. Decker earned 2007 All-Pac-10 honors after having led UCLA with 14 home runs and 57 RBI. Two weeks ago, Decker clubbed UCLA's first grand slam of the season in a 10-0 series-opening victory against Washington State (May 16). Decker had two RBI in UCLA's 7-6, 10-inning loss on Sunday to reach the 100 career-RBI plateau.

Several Bruins rank among the league leaders among Pac-10 performers. Alden Carrithers ranks fifth in batting average (.380), third in on-base percentage (.490), fourth in hits (79), third in stolen bases (17) and seventh in walks (39). Casey Haerther ranks second in doubles (22), and Jermaine Curtis is tied for fourth in walks (42). Among Pac-10 pitchers, Tim Murphy is tied with Washington's Nick Haughian as the league leader (107) and ranks fifth in earned-run average (3.52). Murphy (94.2 IP) and Charles Brewer (94.0 IP) have logged the fifth- and sixth-most innings, respectively.

UCLA has stolen 73 bases in 56 games this spring, the third-highest mark among Pac-10 teams. Arizona State leads the way with 87 steals, and Arizona follows with 78 swipes. The Bruins have attempted 97 steals, the third-highest total in the conference. Alden Carrithers leads UCLA with 17 stolen bases in 23 attempts (.739), and Brandon Crawford ranks second with 11 stolen bases in 17 attempts (647). Casey Haerther ranks third on the team with 10 steals in 12 attempts. Gabe Cohen and Jermaine Curtis have each totaled eight stolen bases in 10 attempts.

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. At the Long Beach Regional, UCLA's starting pitchers combined for 26.2 innings, as Gavin Brooks and Tim Murphy hurled back-to-back complete games. The Bruins finished the season with a third-place Pac-10 finish and 13-10 conference mark.

UCLA has never played Virginia or Rider in its 88-year baseball history. Earlier this season, the Bruins dropped three mid-week games to Cal State Fullerton. The Titans downed UCLA in back-to-back evenings the first week of March. In both teams' most recent meeting (Tuesday, May 20), Cal State Fullerton overcame a 7-4 deficit to register a 12-8 win at Goodwin Field.

UCLA played 26 games against teams which have advanced to the 2008 NCAA Tournament, totaling a 10-16 record in those regular-season meetings. The Bruins notched two victories against Arizona and California and also registered one win against Bethune-Cookman, Stanford, Pepperdine, UC Irvine, Arizona State and Oklahoma. UCLA is one of 25 teams appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year.

UCLA has advanced to the postseason the past three seasons having played among the nation's most difficult schedules, as rated by Boyd's World (strength of schedule rating service, boydsworld.com). The Bruins enter the 2008 NCAA Tournament having played the third-most challenging schedule in the nation, behind Loyola Marymount and Stanford, respectively. In 2007, the Bruins faced the second-most difficult schedule. Two seasons ago, UCLA played the nation's most challenging schedule, as rated by Boyd's World.

UCLA has posted a 4-3 record in seven 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 on an RBI-single by Tim Murphy (May 17). In the regular-season finale, California edged the Bruins, 7-6, in 10 innings (May 25).

Right fielder Gabe Cohen is not available to play this weekend (wrist). Sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Justin Uribe is out for the season (left elbow). Freshman right-hander Dan Klein missed most of the season with shoulder soreness and is questionable this weekend. 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).

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