No. 5 UCLA Baseball Hosts No. 3 Arizona State for Three Games This Weekend
April 29, 2010
LOS ANGELES - No. 5 UCLA hosts a three-game Pac-10 series against No. 3 Arizona State beginning Friday evening at Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Currently in third place, the Bruins (30-7, 7-5) have played three fewer Pac-10 games than Arizona State (35-5, 11-4) and trail the first-place Sun Devils by 2.5 games in the conference standings. While UCLA opened its regular season with a 22-0 record before losing at home, 8-4, to Stanford on April 2, Arizona State began its schedule going 24-0 before falling, 6-5 in 12 innings, at Oregon the same night.
PROBABLE STARTERS (all games at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium)
Friday, April 30 (6 p.m.)
Arizona State - Seth Blair, RHP, Jr. (7-0, 3.08)
UCLA - Gerrit Cole, RHP, So. (6-1, 2.89)
Saturday, May 1 (2 p.m.)
Arizona State - Merrill Kelly, RHP, Jr. (8-0, 3.75)
UCLA - Trevor Bauer, RHP, So. (6-2, 2.57)
Sunday, May 2 (1 p.m.)
Arizona State - Jake Borup, RHP, So. (8-1, 3.58)
UCLA - Rob Rasmussen, LHP, Jr. (6-1, 2.85)
GETTING TO JACKIE ROBINSON STADIUM
Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium is located on the grounds of the West L.A. Veteran Administration, north of Wilshire Blvd. and west of the 405 Freeway. From the 405 North, exit Wilshire Blvd. (west offramp), stay in the right lane coming down the offramp and turn right onto Sepulveda Blvd. Continue until Constitution Ave. and turn left. Parking lots for the ballpark will be located on the right side of Constitution Ave.
TICKETS AND PARKING
Admission costs $7 for adults and $5 for children (ages 16 and under). Parking on the VA grounds costs $5. UCLA's baseball concession stand is stocked with hot dogs, peanuts, nachos, chili, sodas and much more classic ballpark food. Tailgating on the VA grounds at Jackie Robinson Stadium is prohibited.
LISTEN LIVE ONLINE
All home baseball games, including this weekend's series against Arizona State, will be broadcast live online 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, which provides pitch-by-pitch updates of the game in progress on uclabruins.com.
The last time a top-five UCLA team played a top-five opponent during the regular season was in April 1997. The No. 2-ranked Bruins won the final two of three games at home against No. 5 Stanford (April 18-20). The last time UCLA was in the top-10 and played a top-10 team was in May 1997. Ranked No. 6, UCLA won two of three games at No. 2 Stanford (May 9-11). The last time two top-10 Pac-10 teams played against each other was the weekend of April 25-27, 2008, when No. 6 Arizona State swept No. 7 California in Tempe, Ariz.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE
Slated to start Friday evening, sophomore Gerrit Cole enters the weekend as the Pac-10 Conference's leader in strikeouts (86) and ranks second in opponent batting average (.186). Cole recorded 10 strikeouts and no walks in a no-decision last Friday at then-No. 17 Arizona, limiting the host Wildcats to two runs and seven hits in a season-high eight innings. The resident of Santa Ana, Calif., has tallied 10 or more strikeouts in three starts this season and accomplished that feat in three starts one year ago.
GOING THE DISTANCE
Sophomore Trevor Bauer pitched his first complete game of the season (fifth of his career) last Saturday night, striking out 13 batters and walking one to lead the Bruins past Arizona, 6-2. Bauer allowed two runs and 10 hits in nine innings, earning the victory to improve to 6-2 on the season. The native of Valencia, Calif., secured his first Pac-10 win of the spring. Bauer ranks second in the Pac-10 in strikeouts (85), behind teammate Gerrit Cole (86), and is tied for fourth with 66.2 innings pitched (with USC's Ben Mount).
Junior Rob Rasmussen has started each of the Bruins 10 weekend finales, going 6-1 with a 2.85 ERA. Rasmussen, who hails from Arcadia, Calif., has registered 72 strikeouts and 21 walks in 53.2 innings, having limited opposing hitters to a .224 batting average. Entering this weekend's Pac-10 action, Rasmussen ranks fourth among Pac-10 pitchers with 72 strikeouts and seventh in opponent batting average (.224). Rasmussen, along with Cole and Bauer, is one of 13 Pac-10 pitchers to have earned six or more victories this spring.
In the latest college baseball polls, seven Pac-10 teams are ranked among the top-25 by at least one of five publications. Six Pac-10 teams are listed among the top-25 by Baseball America, Rivals.com and Collegiate Baseball. The NCBWA (Writers' Association) has ranked seven Pac-10 teams in their top 25 spots, while the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll has pegged five Pac-10 programs in the top-25. UCLA has posted a 7-3 record against teams ranked in the top-25 (week of game) by Baseball America.
UCLA encourages its fans to arrive early for this weekend's games against Arizona State, as capacity crowds are anticipated. The Bruins have posted n 18-5 record in 23 home games. UCLA welcomed 1,986 fans in a 5-1 win over Oregon on Sunday, April 18, in one of the best draws to Jackie Robinson Stadium in recent history. To accomodate the near record-breaking crowds, UCLA has added seating for up to 650 additional fans at Jackie Robinson Stadium, allowing the facility to accomodate more than 2,000 spectators.
Senior Blair Dunlap leads the team with a .364 batting average and 16 doubles and ranks second with 48 hits (behind Tyler Rahmatulla's 49 hits). Dunlap has moved into a three-way tie for ninth place on UCLA's career doubles list (44, tied with Brandon Crawford and Pete Zamora). Dunlap led the Bruins with 17 doubles last season. UCLA's most veteran hitter, Dunlap has compiled a .302 career batting average in 172 games, totaling 64 career extra-base hits (15 home runs, five triples and 44 doubles).
Freshman Beau Amaral ranks fourth on the team with a .350 batting average, having gone 9-for-18 (.500) in UCLA's last five games. He went 1-for-3 with one RBI and one walk in a 4-1 victory over UC Irvine on Tuesday. The former standout at Huntington Beach High School belted his second homer of the season, going 2-for-4 with two RBI, in a loss to Long Beach State on April 20. In three games at Arizona last weekend, Amaral batted .545 (6-for-11). He has played in 33 games this spring, making 26 starts in center field.
VETERAN ON THE HILL
Senior right-hander Garett Claypool has been reliable both as UCLA's midweek starter and from the bullpen on weekends. Claypool has gone 6-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 14 games (eight starts). The former standout at El Camino High School tossed a career-high 7.2 innings to earn the victory in the Bruins' 4-1 win against UC Irvine on Tuesday. Entering this weekend's Pac-10 action, he leads all Pac-10 pitchers with a .179 opponent batting average and is third with a 2.11 ERA. In four seasons, he has gone 12-5 with a 3.19 ERA.
UCLA leads the Pac-10 with 407 strikeouts, averaging 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. The Bruins' weekend starters rank first, second and fourth, respectively among the Pac-10's strikeout leaders - Gerrit Cole (86), Trevor Bauer (85) and Rob Rasmussen (72). Garett Claypool sits just outside the top-10 strikeout leaders (56). Through games played on Sunday, April 25, UCLA's pitching staff ranked first in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (11.0) and second to the Texas Longhorns in ERA (2.80) and hits allowed per nine innings (7.04).
WORTH AN ESPY
Sophomore Dean Espy has excelled as a corner infielder in his first season with the Bruins. Currently third on the team with a .358 batting average, Espy transferred to UCLA last summer after having starred at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix in 2009. He leads the Bruins in RBI (33) and is second in slugging percentage (.596). Espy, along with Brett Krill, Tyler Rahmatulla and Steve Rodriguez, is tied for the team lead in home runs with five. The native of Mesa, Ariz., leads UCLA with nine multiple-RBI games this spring.
Sophomore Tyler Rahmatulla stands as the only player for UCLA to have started all 37 games (all at second base). Rahmatulla enters Friday's series-opening game versus Arizona State ranking second on the team with a .363 batting average and is first among all hitters with 49 hits, 33 runs, 29 walks and a .477 on-base percentage. Rahmatulla has tallied the game-winning RBI in seven games. The former standout at Mater Dei High School ranks sixth in the Pac-10 with a .477 OBP and leads the conference with six sacrifice flies.
Sophomore right-hander Dan Klein was named to the Midseason Stopper of the Year Watch List in mid-April by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association (NCBWA). He leads UCLA and is tied for second in the Pac-10 (with Washington State's Adam Conley) with eight saves. Klein has gone 3-0 with a 0.62 ERA in a team-high 22 appearances (all in relief), having tallied 37 strikeouts and seven walks in 29.0 innings. Klein is currently tied for fifth place on the Bruins' single-season saves list with three former UCLA pitchers.
UCLA has gone 7-3 against teams ranked in Baseball America's top-25 poll (team ranked in poll on day of game). UCLA defeated then-No. 25 Oklahoma, 5-2, on March 14 before winning two of three games against No. 19 Stanford, No. 17 Oregon State and No. 17 Arizona. One year ago, the Bruins went 8-13 against top-25 competition, playing more games and earning more victories against top-25 teams than any other Pac-10 program. UCLA is slated to play at least seven more games against top-25 ballclubs this year.
UCLA's 16-inning victory three weeks ago at Oregon State marked the program's longest game (by innings) since an 18-inning game at Arizona State on Feb. 23, 1990. The Bruins lost 6-5 in the series opener at Arizona State that evening before 4,037 fans. The longest extra-inning game in Pac-10 history came in 1972, as Washington and Oregon State played a 20-inning contest (date, score unknown). UCLA's 3-1 win against Oregon State lasted six hours, 23 minutes and featured 12 pitchers (eight by Oregon State, four by UCLA).
LOOKING FOR RELIEF
UCLA's bullpen has gone 7-2 with a 2.91 ERA and 10 saves through 37 games. The Bruins' relief corps has logged 123 strikeouts and 38 walks, posting a .214 opponent batting average through 111.1 innings. Nine relief pitchers have combined to make 91 appearances out of the bullpen. No relief appearance may have been more impressive than that of right-hander Garett Claypool in UCLA's 16-inning triumph at Oregon State on April 10. Claypool earned the victory that evening, limiting the Beavers to one hit in 4.2 scoreless innings. Right-hander Erik Goeddel ranks second on the team with 20 relief outings, having gone 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA.
NOTES ON A STREAK
UCLA opened the season by winning its first 22 games, the Bruins' best-ever start to any baseball season in the program's 91-year history. Prior to going 22-0 in 2010, UCLA's best starts on record took place in 1978 (8-0) and in 1997 (7-0). The Bruins won their first 22 games, outscoring their opponents by a combined 189-59 margin. UCLA posted a .356 batting average during its record streak while the pitching staff logged a 2.22 ERA and 273 strikeouts through 199.0 innings (12.4 strikeouts per nine innings).
UCLA's 35-man roster features four seniors, six juniors, 11 sophomores and 14 freshmen. Only two of the team's players hail from a state other than California - Chase Brewer and Dean Espy both call Arizona home. The Bruins have 26 players from southern California and eight players from northern/central California.