No. 9 UCLA Baseball Set to Play at UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday
March 22, 2010
LOS ANGELES - The No. 9 UCLA baseball team has opened the season with a 16-0 record and looks to extend its school-record 16-game win streak at UC Santa Barbara (9-6) on Tuesday afternoon. Game time at the Gauchos' Caesar Uyesaka Stadium is 2 p.m. Right-hander Garett Claypool (1-0, 2.30 ERA) will take the mound for UCLA. Fans can follow pitch-by-pitch action through GameTracker, available online at uclabruins.com.
Tuesday, March 23 (2 p.m.) - UC Santa Barbara's Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
UCLA - Garett Claypool, RHP, Sr. (1-0, 2.30)
UC Santa Barbara - Jesse Meaux, RHP, Jr. (3-0, 2.35)
At 16-0, UCLA's baseball team is off to its best start in school history. The Bruins' previous top starts (on record) took place in 1978 (8-0) and 1997 (7-0). UCLA's best one-loss start to a season (16-1) occurred in 1969. UCLA's current 16-game win streak is the team's longest such streak in program history. The Bruins have not been 16 games over .500 since finishing their 1997 season with a 45-21-1 record after advancing to the College World Series.
MOVING ON UP
UCLA is ranked No. 11 or higher in each of the five major college baseball weekly polls. Three polls have the Bruins in the top 10 - Collegiate Baseball has the Bruins pegged No. 3, USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll rates UCLA No. 6 (one first-place vote) and Baseball America has tabbed the Bruins No. 9. Both Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com and the NCBWA (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) has ranked UCLA No. 11 in the nation. The Bruins were ranked No. 23 by Baseball America in the preseason.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Bruins play their final non-conference series this weekend, hosting three games against Cal Poly, after playing a midweek contest at UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday. UCLA split two midweek contests against UC Santa Barbara in 2009. The Bruins take on Cal Poly in a Thursday-Friday-Saturday alignment at the end of this week. UCLA won the final two of three games when it last faced Cal Poly at Baggett Stadium in San Luis Obispo in 2008.
UCLA picked up its second three-game series sweep of the season last weekend, cruising past Oral Roberts. The Bruins outscored the Golden Eagles, 41-7, in three games. Justin Uribe batted .533, going 8-for-15 with three RBI, and Tyler Rahmatulla hit at a .500 clip (5-for-10) with six RBI and four runs. UCLA's three starting pitchers combined for 25 strikeouts and five walks through 20.2 innings, limiting Oral Roberts to four runs and 12 hits in three starts.
The Bruins will send senior right-hander Garett Claypool to the hill for Tuesday's afternoon contest at UC Santa Barbara. Claypool will make his 24th career start and enters Tuesday's game with a 1-0 record and 2.30 ERA this season. The native of West Hills, Calif., allowed one run in seven innings to earn the victory at Long Beach State on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Claypool has recorded 18 strikeouts, surrendering 10 hits and two walks, in 15.2 innings.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE
Sophomore right-hander Gerrit Cole leads the Pac-10 Conference with 49 strikeouts and a .149 opponent batting average. Cole, along with Arizona State's Merrill Kelly and Jake Borup, ranks first in the conference with five wins. He logged a career-high 15 strikeouts in 7.2 innings at Texas A&M Corpus Christi (Whataburger College Classic) on Friday, March 12, before securing National Player of the Week honors from Collegiate Baseball. Cole enters this week's action sporting a 5-0 record and 2.20 ERA, the 10th-lowest mark in the Pac-10.
BAUER BRINGS IT
Sophomore right-hander Trevor Bauer has formed a dynamic 1-2 starting punch with classmate Gerrit Cole. Slated to start Friday against Cal Poly, Bauer has gone 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA, the sixth-lowest mark among Pac-10 pitchers. The former standout at Hart High School ranks second in the conference, behind Cole, with 47 strikeouts and has issued just seven walks. Bauer limited Oral Roberts to one run and five hits through eight innings last Saturday, fanning nine batters and walking one in UCLA's 12-2 victory.
UCLA's offense enters midweek action ranking first in the Pac-10 in home runs (22) and second in batting avearge (.363). Each of the Bruins' nine hitters with 45 or more at-bats are hitting above .300, as second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla leads that group with a .433 mark (26-for-60, 2 HR, 18 RBI). First baseman Justin Uribe has logged a .417 average (25-for-60, 1 HR, 14 RBI) through the season's first 16 games. UCLA has out-hit its opponents in all 16 games and is currently averaging 9.6 runs and 13.1 hits per game.
DEJA VU FOR DUNLAP
Senior Blair Dunlap has recorded an 11-game hitting streak for the second time in as many seasons. The native of Mission Viejo, Calif., has hit safely in 12 of 14 games played this season. For the second time this year, Dunlap led off UCLA's first inning with a solo home run on Sunday against Oral Roberts. He also accomplished that feat in the team's season opener, connecting on the first pitch he saw as the leadoff hitter that night. UCLA's most veteran hitter, Dunlap enters Tuesday's game with a .358 average (.292 career mark in 154 games).
Freshmen Cody Regis (.458), Cody Keefer (.364) and Beau Amaral (.320) have helped key UCLA's historical 16-0 start. Sophomore transfer Dean Espy (from South Mountain CC) is batting .395 with four homers and a team-high 20 RBI. Keefer is tied for seventh in the conference with a .500 on-base percentage and is tied for fourth with 13 walks. In addition, freshmen Jeff Gelalich (3-for-3) and Trevor Brown (2-for-5, 3 R, 2 RBI) had strong performances in their first and second career starts, respectively, last Saturday.
DIGGING THE LONG BALL
Despite losing its two most prolific power hitters from 2009 (Cody Decker, 21 HR; Casey Haerther, 9 HR), UCLA's offense has led the Pac-10 all season in the home run department. The Bruins have belted 22 round-trippers and have received substantial power from numerous contributors. Steve Rodriguez leads the pack with five homers, Dean Espy has belted four and Blair Dunlap and Niko Gallego have each connected for three. Heading into 2010, the Bruins were returning just four players who hit 13 of the team's 54 homers from 2009.
RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
Junior Brett Krill has batted .375 with two homers, six doubles, 11 RBI and 15 runs in 14 starts, all in right field. After having seen minimal playing time his first two seasons, Krill has made the most of his junior season. He has hit safely in 12 of 14 contests and has logged six multiple-hit efforts so far this spring. Krill's best performance came in UCLA's 10-1 win at Long Beach State (Feb. 23), as the 6-foot-4 product from Laguna Niguel, Calif., went 4-for-5 with two doubles, three runs and two RBI at Blair Field.
BEHIND THE PLATE
Sophomore Steve Rodriguez has started as UCLA's catcher in 14 of 16 ballgames. Rodriguez leads the Bruins with five homers and has posted a .362 batting average. A talented hitter from the left side, Rodriguez has hit safely in 10 of 14 games and has produced six two-hit efforts this season. He has guided UCLA's pitching staff to a 2.06 ERA and .190 opponent batting average. field. UCLA's catchers have limited the opposition to 16 steal attempts against, tied for the second-lowest total in the Pac-10 Conference.
Senior first baseman Justin Uribe has batted .417 with a .478 on-base percentage in 16 games this season. Uribe has made the switch to first base after having played in the outfield for UCLA the last three seasons. A career .318 hitter, the resident of Santa Ana, Calif., went 8-for-15 (.533) with three RBI, two runs and one stolen base in the Bruins' three-game sweep of Oral Roberts last weekend. Uribe has hit safely in 14 of the Bruins' 16 games, including each of the last six contests (12-for-27, .444 average).
AT THE HELM
Sixth-year head coach John Savage became UCLA's first head coach to lead the Bruins to three consecutive NCAA Regionals (2006-08). Named the Bruins' head coach in the summer of 2004, Savage has helped UCLA produce 31 Major League Draft selections. UCLA has collected the second-most wins (55) and second-highest winning percentage (.561) among Pac-10 teams (conference games) from 2006-09. At 16-0, Savage has pushed UCLA to its most games over .500 in his six-plus seasons (previous, 10 games over in May 2006).