UCLA Baseball Opens Week Against Pepperdine

Feb. 20, 2006

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Game Data:
UCLA vs. No. 9 Pepperdine - Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m., Brian Schroeder (0-0, 5.40) vs. Robert Della Grotta (0-1, 7.71)

Get After It: The UCLA baseball team (4-6) returns home to Jackie Robinson Stadium to host the No. 9-ranked Pepperdine Waves (6-4) on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. The Bruins will face their third ranked opponent of the season, and will try to beat the Waves for the fourth-consecutive time in the series.

Pacific Recap: UCLA went on the road for the first this season and took the first two games of the three game series from Pacific at Stockton Ballpark. The series opener originally scheduled for Friday, Feb. 17 was rained out and moved to Saturday, a game the Bruins won 5-2. UCLA took the second game of Saturday's doubleheader by a count of 5-1, before dropping the final game 3-0 on Sunday.

About the Waves: The Pepperdine University Waves enter Tuesday's matchup with a 6-4 overall record, a No. 9 national ranking by Collegiate Baseball, and a No. 16 ranking by Baseball America. The Waves are coming off a three-game set at home against second-ranked Oregon State, with the Waves winning the final two games of the series (6-2, 7-1), after dropping the opener to the Beavers by a score of 7-6. Pepperdine also knocked off then-No. 15 ranked Long Beach State last Tuesday at home by a score of 3-2. Pepperdine is 1-2 on the road, losing two of three games at Fresno State. As a team, the Waves hit .263 (87-331) at the plate with three home runs, 20 doubles, 51 RBI, 56 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts. On the mound, Pepperdine owns a 3.87 team ERA with 59 strikeouts in 88.1 innings pitched. The Waves are led by head coach Steve Rodriguez (77-59) who is in his third season at the helm of the program.

The Pepperdine-UCLA Series: Since the 1975 season, UCLA owns 32-23-3 series advantage over the Waves. These two teams have not faced each other since the 2004 season when the Bruin swept the Waves in a home-and-home series. UCLA has won the last three straight in the series and is 6-2 versus Pepperdine since the 2000 season.

Come Check It Out: Fans will get their first look at a new and improved Jackie Robinson Stadium on Tuesday. Over 1,000 pro-style stadium individual seats have been installed at JRS in place of the old bleacher-style seats, creating a new comfort for fans to enjoy while watching their Bruins play.

It's A Win Streak: UCLA managed some season firsts during the weekend at Pacific, as the Bruins won back-to-back games for the first time this season to open the road trip, and won its first three-game series. Interestingly, it was the first time UCLA had won back-to-back road games since the 2004 season.

Heating Up: Junior Hector Ambriz caught on fire in the cold Stockton weather this past weekend. On the mound against Pacific, Ambriz threw a season-high 7.0 innings with six strikeouts, allowing two runs on four hits to earn his first win of the season in game one on Saturday. For the three-game series against Pacific, Ambriz hit .500 (5-10) with a double and three runs scored as the designated hitter.

Cornerstone: Freshman Jermaine Curtis is becoming a mainstay for the Bruins at the 'hot corner.' Curtis has started the last six games for the Bruins at third base and has been productive nonetheless. In his six starts, Curtis is batting .375 (6-16) with three doubles, three RBI, and three runs scored, including a .500 on-base percentage.

Keep Their Headz Ringin: Freshman shortstop Brandon Crawford continued his hit parade against Pacific over the weekend, finishing 5-for-14 (357) with a double and a RBI as the Bruin leadoff hitter. He was also able to stretch his team-best hitting streak to eight games.

Stopping the Snowball: UCLA was impressive in error during the series opener at Pacific. The Bruins started off the series against Pacific in the worst possible way, committing three errors in the first inning in the opener that gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Instead of letting the snowball roll downhill the rest of the game, the Bruins stepped it up defensively and played flawless ball in the final eight innings to help earn a 5-2 win.

Huffin' and Puffin': Junior Dave Huff earned National Player of the Week honors from Collegiate Baseball, the publication announced Monday. Huff, a left-hander from Huntington Beach, Calif., was recognized for his dominant pitching performance against Pacific on Saturday in the second game of a doubleheader with the Tigers. Huff threw a gem for the Bruins, going 8.0 innings with a season-high 15 strikeouts, allowing just one run on two hits to earn his first win of the season. He opened the game in impressive fashion by striking out the first nine batters he faced in a row. On the season, Huff is 1-1 with a team-best 1.61 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 22.1 innings pitched.

Bring It: This season, UCLA isn't backing down from anyone which shows in the toughness of its schedule. The Bruins are set to play 32 games scheduled against teams that competed in the NCAA Regional Championships last season, with 11 teams listed in this year's preseason top-25 rankings.

UCLA will take on 12 teams that competed in the NCAA Regional Championships last year (Miami, Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, NC State, Ole Miss, UNLV, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Stanford, and Oregon State), and will have 18 games during the season against NCAA Super Regional participants (Miami, Cal State Fullerton, Ole Miss, Arizona State, USC, Oregon State).

The Bruins' tough schedule was noted with the No. 1 strength of schedule nod by Boyd's World, a baseball statistics internet site.

Up Next: The Bruins will host an exhibition game against Waseda University on Thursday, Feb. 23 (6 p.m.). The Bruins will then host the No. 14 Cal State Fullerton Titans on Friday, Feb. 24 (6 p.m.), before playing at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).

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