No. 15 UCLA Baseball Set to Host UC Riverside on Tuesday Night
March 8, 2010
LOS ANGELES - The No. 15 UCLA baseball team hosts UC Riverside on Tuesday evening under the lights at Jackie Robinson Stadium (6 p.m.). The Bruins (9-0) look to extend their season-opening win streak to 10 games as senior right-hander Garett Claypool takes the mound. Admission to all home Tuesday night games cost just $2 for adults at children.
Two weeks ago, Claypool (1-0, 1.00 ERA) allowed one run and five hits in seven innings at Long Beach State to earn the victory. Last season, the Bruins dropped both midweek contests to UC Riverside after having swept a three-game weekend series at UCLA in 2008.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Tuesday, March 9 (6 p.m.) - Jackie Robinson Stadium
UC Riverside - Trevor Frank, RHP, Fr. (2-0, 3.75)
UCLA - Garett Claypool, RHP, Sr. (1-0, 1.00)
GETTING TO JACKIE ROBINSON STADIUM
Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium is located on the grounds of the West Los Angeles Veteran Administration, north of Wilshire Blvd. and west of the 405 Freeway. Fans can enter the stadium from Wilshire Blvd. (take ramp to Bonsalle Ave. on VA grounds, slightly west of Sepulveda Blvd.) or at the intersection of Sepulveda Blvd. and Constitution Ave. Tickets for Tuesday's game cost $2 for adults and children. UCLA's concession stand is stocked with hot dogs, peanuts, sodas and much more classic ballpark food.
LISTEN LIVE ONLINE
All home baseball games will be broadcast live on the Bruins' baseball website at uclabruins.com. UCLA's John Ramey will provide the play-by-play and will be accompanied throughout the year by color commentators Nick Theodorou and Danny Rees. In addition, fans can follow the action online through GameTracker, a pitch-by-pitch update of the game in progress, located at uclabruins.com.
The Bruins have opened their 2010 season with a 9-0 record, the best start for any UCLA baseball team in the modern era (dating back to 1955). UCLA has registered its first nine-game win streak since February 1982, when the Bruins won 10 consecutive games (Feb. 2-20). UCLA has not allowed more than five runs in any contest and has outscored its opposition by an 88-22 margin. The Bruins opened the 1997 season with a 7-0 mark and began the 1978 campaign going 8-0. UCLA's best one-loss start came in 1969, when the Bruins went 16-1 through their first 17 games before earning their first-ever trip to the College World Series.
TOP IN THE PAC
Entering Tuesday's games, UCLA ranks first in the Pac-10 Conference in team ERA (2.00) and second in team batting average (.379). Offensively, the Bruins lead the league with 16 home runs. On the mound, UCLA ranks first in opposing batting average (.193), strikeouts (119), strikeouts per nine ninnings (13.5) and fewest walks issued (23). Individually, Steve Rodriguez has belted a Pac-10-leading five home runs. UCLA's three weekend starters are in the conference's top five strikeout leaders - Gerrit Cole (second, with 26); Rob Rasmussen and Trevor Bauer (tied for fourth, with 23). Cole's .117 opponent average leads all Pac-10 pitchers.
BACK TO TEXAS
The Bruins hit the road for three games at the Whataburger College Classic in Corpus Christi, Texas, beginning Friday, March 12. Last season, UCLA played three games at the annual Houston College Classic in Minute Maid Park. This year's three-game trip to Whataburger Field features single games against Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Friday evening, Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon and Oklahoma late Sunday morning. All games will be played at Whataburger Field, home to the Corpus Christi Hooks (double-A affiliate, Houston Astros).
TEAM USA INVITEE
Sophomore right-hander Gerrit Cole has been invited to participate at the 2010 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Trials (June 5-11) in Cary, N.C. Last summer, Cole went 4-0 with a 1.06 ERA en route to leading the USA National Team to the 2009 World Baseball Challenge Championship in Prince George, British Columbia (Canada). Cole has gone 3-0 for the Bruins this season, leading the team with 26 strikeouts in 18.0 innings. Last Friday, he became the first UCLA pitcher since 2004 (Casey Janssen) to record wins in his first three starts. He allowed one run and two hits, striking out nine (no walks) in seven innings of a 13-1 win over Nebraska.
Sophomore Tyler Rahmatulla has started each of the Bruins' nine games at second base and hit safely in each of the team's first eight games. Yet Rahmatulla's most important contribution may have come in the bottom of the ninth inning of Saturday's 5-4 walk-off victory over Nebraska, allowing UCLA to sweep the series. With the bases loaded and one out, Rahmatulla lined the first offering he saw from reliever Mike Nesseth to center field, deep enough for sophomore Dean Espy to tag up from third base and score the winning run. Rahmatulla has batted .412, going 14-for-34 with three doubles, nine runs and eight RBI with a .500 on-base percentage.
STRONG AS A BULL
UCLA's bullpen has gone 3-0 with two saves in 28.0 innings, posting a 0.96 ERA. The bullpen has collected 43 strikeouts and five walks, allowing six runs (three earned) and 22 hits through nine games. Right-hander Dan Klein (closer) leads the unit with 13 strikeouts and no walks in eight scoreless innings. Klein has registered one win and two saves, scattering just five hits in a Pac-10-leading seven appearances. Matt Grace has surrendered one run (unearned) and two hits in 5.0 innings, totaling eight strikeouts and one walk in six appearances.
Senior Justin Uribe has started eight of the Bruins' nine contests (all at first base), and has recorded a .433 batting average. The native of Santa Ana, Calif., has gone 13-for-30 with one homer, two doubles, eight RBI and four runs. Uribe leads the offense with a .514 on-base percentage. Over the weekend against Nebraska, Uribe batted .500 (6-for-12) in UCLA's three-game sweep. Uribe went 3-for-5 with three RBI in the series-opening victory and went 3-for-4 in UCLA's 5-3 victory in the series finale. In 118 career games, Uribe has posted a .311 batting average with 57 RBI and 64 runs.
Senior Blair Dunlap has batted .407 through the season's first nine games. UCLA's most veteran presence (148 career games, 122 starts), Dunlap batted .462 (6-for-13) with three doubles, one triple, three runs and one RBI in UCLA's three-game sweep of Nebraska last weekend. A two-time All-NCAA Regional selection (2006, 2008), Dunlap leads all Bruins with career totals of 12 home runs, 68 RBI, 93 runs, 143 hits, 32 doubles, four triples and 21 stolen bases. The resident of Mission Viejo, Calif., secured honorable mention All-Pac-10 Team and Pac-10 All-Academic Team honors as a junior in 2009.
Entering the 2010 season, the Bruins returned just four players who hit a combined 13 of UCLA's 54 home runs in 2009. Through nine games, UCLA has belted a Pac-10-best 16 home runs. Blair Dunlap smacked the first pitch as UCLA's leadoff hitter in the first inning of its season opener for a home run (Feb. 19, vs. Southern). Steve Rodriguez leads the conference with five homers - including two against Bethune Cookman (Feb. 20) on national television (MLB Network). Dean Espy and Niko Gallego have each clubbed three home runs.
FRESHMEN IN THE OUTFIELD
Freshmen outfielders Beau Amaral and Cody Keefer have opened their UCLA careers in flourishing fashion. Amaral, who hails from Huntington Beach, Calif., has batted .357 with one home run, four RBI and six runs in nine games (seven starts, all in center field). Keefer, a native of Davis, Calif., has batted .355 with a .487 on-base percentage, tied for the ninth-highest mark in the Pac-10 entering Tuesday's games. Keefer is tied for fourth in the Pac-10 with eight walks, and has gone 11-for-31 with two doubles, seven RBI and nine runs.
KINGS OF THE K
The Bruins' pitching staff leads the Pac-10 with 119 strikeouts, averaging 13.5 punchouts per nine innings. UCLA struck out 19 batters in a 5-3 victory in game two of its doubleheader against Nebraska on Friday, March 5. No Bruin team has recorded 19 or more strikeouts since before 2001. In three games against the Cornhuskers, UCLA logged 44 strikeouts and seven walks in 27.0 innings, averaging 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Starters Trevor Bauer and Rob Rasmussen each notched 10 strikeouts in their respective starts.
UCLA has scored in 40 of its 75 offensive innings this season. The Bruins crossed the plate a season-high nine times in the bottom of the first in a 16-2 opening night win over Southern (Feb. 19). The Bruins have outscored the opposition, 14-0, in the first inning and are 6-0 when scoring before their opponent. UCLA overcame a 4-1 deficit against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 21, to win by a 14-5 margin. Last Saturday, the Bruins broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning against Nebraska to secure a 5-4 victory.
Baseball America predicted that UCLA will finish second in the Pac-10 standings, behind defending conference champion Arizona State. The national baseball publication projected four Pac-10 teams to secure NCAA Regional berths (Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford). Baseball America's preseason All-Conference Team includes right-hander Gerrit Cole. Outfielder Cody Keefer is rated as the Pac-10's ninth-best newcomer. Left-hander Rob Rasmussen is listed as the Pac-10's top draft prospect for the June 2010 MLB Draft.
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