No. 15 UCLA Baseball to Play at Whataburger College Classic
March 10, 2010
LOS ANGELES - The No. 15 UCLA baseball team looks to keep its 10-game win streak alive this weekend at the Whataburger College Classic in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Bruins (10-0) face Texas A&M Corpus Christi (7-4) on Friday night before taking on Mississippi State (8-3) on Saturday and No. 25 Oklahoma (12-1) on Sunday. Fans can follow pitch-by-pitch action through GameTracker, available online at uclabruins.com.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, March 12 (6 p.m. CT/4 p.m. PT) - Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas
UCLA - Gerrit Cole, RHP, So. (3-0, 2.50)
TAMCC - Roy Ferdin, LHP, Jr. (1-0, 3.86)
Saturday, March 13 (5 p.m. CT/3 p.m. PT) - Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas
Mississippi State - TBA
UCLA - Trevor Bauer, RHP, So. (2-0, 2.45)
Sunday, March 14 (11 a.m. CT/9 a.m. PT) - Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas
UCLA - Rob Rasmussen, LHP, Jr. (0-0, 3.38)
Oklahoma - Ryan Gibson, LHP, Fr. (2-0, 3.07)
HEADED TO TEXAS
UCLA returns to Texas this weekend after having played in the 2009 Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park one year ago. This year marks the third consecutive season in which UCLA will face Oklahoma. The Sooners opened the series in Los Angeles in 2008 before UCLA visiting Norman, Okla., for a three-game series last March. All three games this weekend will be played at Whataburger Field, home of the Corpus Christi Hooks (double-A affiliate, Houston Astros). The Bruins will serve as the designated home team on Saturday versus Mississippi State.
The Bruins have opened their 2010 season with a 10-0 record, the best start for any UCLA baseball team in the modern era (dating back to 1955). UCLA has registered its first 10-game win streak since February 1982. The Bruins last won 11 or more straight games in 1969 (13-game win streak, April 26-May 24). UCLA has not allowed more than five runs in any contest and has outscored its opposition by a 91-24 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.
TOP IN THE PAC
Through Tuesday's action, UCLA ranks first in the Pac-10 Conference in team ERA (2.00) and second in team batting average (.372). Offensively, the Bruins lead the league with 16 home runs. On the mound, UCLA ranks first in opposing batting average (.189), strikeouts (130), strikeouts per nine innings (13.0) and fewest walks issued (24). 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.
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' 10 games at second base and has hit safely in nine of those ballgames. The resident of Mission Viejo, Calif., helped UCLA defeat Nebraska, 5-4, in walk-off fashion on Saturday to sweep the series. With the bases loaded and one out, he lined the first offering from reliever Mike Nesseth to center field, deep enough for sophomore Dean Espy to tag up and score the winning run. Rahmatulla has batted .432 (16-for-37) with three doubles, one triple, nine runs and 12 RBI. Rahmatulla opened the 2010 season with a career-best eight-game hitting streak (Feb. 19 - March 6).
STRONG AS A BULL
UCLA's bullpen has gone 4-0 with two saves in 31.1 innings, posting a 0.86 ERA. The bullpen has collected 47 strikeouts and five walks, allowing six runs (three earned) and 24 hits. 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 four hits in 5.0 innings, totaling eight strikeouts and one walk in seven appearances. Left-hander Mitchell Beacom picked up the victory Tuesday versus UC Riverside, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings.
Senior Blair Dunlap has batted .407 through the season's first 10 games. UCLA's most veteran presence (148 career games), Dunlap batted .462 (6-for-13) with three doubles, one triple, three runs and one RBI in UCLA's sweep of Nebraska last weekend. A two-time All-NCAA Regional selection (2006, 2008), he leads all Bruins with career totals of 12 homers, 68 RBI, 93 runs, 143 hits, 32 doubles, four triples and 21 stolen bases. Dunlap secured honorable mention All-Pac-10 Team and Pac-10 All-Academic Team honors as a junior in 2009.
Senior Justin Uribe has started nine of the Bruins' 10 contests (all at first base), posting a .394 batting average. The native of Santa Ana, Calif., has gone 13-for-33 with one homer, two doubles, eight RBI and four runs. Last 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 Bruins' 5-3 win in the series finale. In 119 career games, Uribe has posted a .308 batting average with 57 RBI and 64 runs.
Entering the 2010 season, the Bruins returned just four players who hit a combined 13 of UCLA's 54 home runs in 2009. Through 10 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 .375 with one home run, five RBI and seven runs in 10 games (eight starts, all in center field). Keefer, a native of Davis, Calif., has batted .400 with a .512 on-base percentage, the fifth-highest mark in the Pac-10 through Tuesday's games. Keefer is tied for fifth in the Pac-10 with eight walks. He went 3-for-4 in UCLA's 3-2 victory over UC Riverside last Tuesday.
KINGS OF THE K
The Bruins' pitching staff leads the Pac-10 with 130 strikeouts, averaging 13.0 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 the team's last four games, UCLA has logged 55 strikeouts and eight walks in 36.0 innings, averaging 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Starters Trevor Bauer and Rob Rasmussen each notched 10 strikeouts in their respective starts last weekend.
UCLA has scored in 43 of its 84 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, 15-0, in the first inning and are 7-0 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 Tuesday, the Bruins broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning against UC Riverside to secure a 3-2 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.