UCLA Hosts Long Beach State On Tuesday

April 17, 2006

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Game Data:

UCLA vs. Long Beach State - Jackie Robinson Stadium, April 18 at 6 p.m., Jason Novak, RHP (0-0, 5.21) vs. Scott Turmail, RHP (1-1, 3.14)

Get After It: The UCLA baseball team (20-15, 5-4 Pac-10) returns home to host the Long Beach State Dirtbags (16-17-1, 4-1-1 Big West) in a non-conference matchup on Tuesday, April 18 at 6 p.m. The Bruins will try to sweep Long Beach State in a home-and-home series for the first time since 1995.

Arizona Recap: UCLA went down to Tucson, Ariz., for a Pac-10 series and walked away with its second-consecutive Pac-10 series win with two victories over the Wildcats in the three-game set. The Bruins dropped the first game of the series on Thursday, 3-4, but responded with a 13-8 win on Friday night, and an 8-5 win on Saturday afternoon. UCLA won its third-consecutive series at Arizona.

About the Dirtbags: The Long Beach State Dirtbags enter Tuesday's matchup with a 16-17-1 overall record and a 4-1-1 Big West mark. Long Beach State went 1-1-1 in its three-game series at Cal State Northridge this past weekend. The Dirtbags are 4-2-1 in their last seven games after losing seven-straight, and are 6-10-1 on the road so far this season. Long Beach State will play the fifth game of an eight-game road swing on Tuesday against the Bruins. As a team, the Dirtbags hit .263 (285-1082) with 13 home runs, 141 RBI, 153 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases in 32 attempts. LBSU is led by junior third baseman Evan Longoria who owns a .336 (39-116) batting average with eight home runs, 27 RBI and 22 runs scored. The Long Beach State pitching staff carries a 3.40 team ERA with 192 strikeouts in 299.0 innings pitched while holding opponents to a .252 batting average. Head Coach Mike Weathers is in his fifth year at the helm of the Dirtbag program.

The Long Beach State-UCLA Series: Since the 1975 season, UCLA owns a 36-25 series advantage over the Dirtbags. UCLA knocked off Long Beach State, 6-4, on Feb. 28 earlier this season. Long Beach State has won five of the last eight meetings in this series since 2002.

Go For It: The Bruins are in line to do something no UCLA team has done since 1995 - beat Long Beach State twice in a season. In the first game between these two teams on Feb. 28, UCLA beat then-ranked No. 15 Long Beach State, 6-3, to hand the Dirtbags their first home loss of the season, and win at Blair Field for the first time since 1995.

Turning Point: UCLA's season has made a change for the better since the Bruins played Long Beach State on Feb. 28. Entering that game, UCLA was 5-9 overall and fresh off being swept in three-games by Cal State Fullerton. The Bruins knocked off the No. 15 Dirtbags (6-3) that day, and went on to sweep No. 17 NC State on the road. Since Feb. 28, UCLA is 15-6.

Punch First: UCLA is quite successful when making the scoreboard light up first in a game. So far this season, the Bruins are 8-3 when scoring in the first inning, and 14-4 when scoring before the opposition in a game. However, UCLA is 6-11 when opponents score first in a game.

In the Fridge: When UCLA has a lead late in the ball game, the Bruins are pretty consistent at sealing the deal. So far this season, UCLA is 19-2 when leading after six innings of play, and a perfect 20-0 when owning the lead after eight innings. On the other side of things, UCLA is 0-9 when trailing after six innings and 0-13 when behind after eight innings of play.

Rank This: 18 of the Bruins' first 22 games this season were against nationally ranked opposition, with a streak of 12-consecutive games versus ranked opponents once in effect. UCLA is 9-9 against ranked opposition on the season. UCLA hasn't played a ranked foe in its last 13 games, earning a 9-4 record in that stretch.

Speaks For Itself: UCLA ranked in this week at No. 23 in the national RPI rankings, with a fourth-ranked strength of schedule.

Magic Numbers: So far this season, UCLA is 18-3 when scoring five or more runs in a ball game, and owns an 11-0 record when holding opponents to two runs or less. The Bruins are also 19-5 this season when recording eight or more hits in a game. UCLA is conversely 0-7 on the season when scoring one run or less, and 1-10 when recording seven hits or less in a game.

Early Birds: UCLA has a knack for scoring runs early. So far this season, the Bruins have outscored the opposition 60-22 in the first two innings.

Home Run Tear: The Bruins have ripped a long ball in 17 of their last 22 games, knocking 28 jacks in that span, a stretch that included home runs in 13-consecutive games. UCLA has 36 home runs on the season, good for second in the Pac-10. 14 different Bruins have smacked round-trippers so far this season, with nine players already owning two-or-more home runs on the year (Ambriz 3, Babineau 3, Crawford 4, Decker 2, Jensen 4, McMillan 6, Smith 3, Stewart 4, Taylor, Jr. 2). UCLA is 16-5 this season when a Bruin homers in a game.

Good D: UCLA's defense has been superb this year as the Bruins currently rank No. 1 in the Pac-10 Conference with a .974 fielding percentage.

Dealing: UCLA's pitching has been solid all season long. The Bruins enter this week second in the Pac-10 with a 3.56 team ERA, and are third in the conference with a .252 opposing batting average.

Hit Men: It its last four games, UCLA has posted double-digit figures in hits, batting .377 (55-146) during that span. The Bruins tallied 13 hits in last Sunday's 10-7 win over Washington State, 10 hits in Thursday's loss to Arizona, 15 hits in a 13-8 win over the Wildcats on Friday, and 17 hits in an 8-5 win over Arizona on Saturday.

Winning Without HR: UCLA might be 4-10 on the season when not putting one over the fence in a game, but the Bruins won the last two games of the three-game series at Arizona without hitting a home run. Winning back-to-back games without knocking a round tripper was a first for the Bruins this season, as UCLA scored 13 runs on Friday without a long ball, the first time the Bruins scored in double-digits in a game this season without hitting a home run.

En Fuego: The Bruins adapted well to the desert heat of Arizona. UCLA had five players hit over .400 in the three-game series at Arizona, with three other players hitting .300 or better on the trip. Junior Tim Stewart hit .600 (6-10), senior Josh Roenicke hit .500 (6-10), Eric Taylor, Jr. and freshman Ryan Babineau each hit .444 (4-9), and senior Chris Jensen hit .400 (6-15) at the plate. UCLA batted .368 (42-114) as a team for the series, as the Bruins' 42 hits is a season-high for a three-game series.

On Fire (translated): Since starting the Pac-10 schedule batting .176 after three games at Washington, UCLA is hitting .341 (73-214) in its last six conference games.

Multi-hitters: UCLA has three players with double-digit multi-hit games. Freshman Brandon Crawford leads the team with 16 multi-hit games, senior Chris Jensen has 14 multi-hit games, and junior Hector Ambriz has 12 games with two hits or more.

Pac Man: Eric Taylor, Jr. has been killing Pac-10 pitching. In eight conference games, Taylor, Jr. is batting a team-best .571 (12-21) with two RBI, two doubles, and five runs scored. On the year, Taylor, Jr. is hitting .500 (15-30) with two home runs and eight RBI, and has made starts at three different positions for UCLA (catcher, third base, first base).

R(BI)oenicke: Senior Josh Roenicke has been an RBI machine for the Bruins in Pac-10 play. Roenicke leads the Bruins with nine RBI in nine conference games, upping his season total to 13 RBI. He is second on the squad with a .357 (10-28) Pac-10 batting average. Roenicke has also doubled out of the bullpen for the Bruins, earning two of his three saves on the season in Pac-10 action.

Streaking: Josh Roenicke enters Tuesday's game with Long Beach State riding a 10-game hit streak. Roenicke is hitting .333 (12-36) over that span, and needs a hit in his next game to tie freshman Brandon Crawford's team-high 11-game hit streak from earlier this season.

Welcome Back: Freshman Tim Murphy was back in action this past weekend after missing 25 games since suffering a wrist injury against UC Riverside on Feb. 14 when he was hit by a pitch. In his first at bat in two months, Murphy laced a double to the left field gap, and finished the series hitting .333 (4-12) with a RBI.

3-4, 8-9: UCLA got some major production this past weekend from junior Tim Stewart and senior Chris Jensen in the three and four spots in the lineup, and senior Josh Roenicke and freshman Ryan Babineau in the eight and nine holes. In the Bruins' two wins at Arizona, Stewart and Jensen combined to hit .500 (11-22) with six RBI and six runs scored. Roenicke and Babineau combined to hit .467 (7-15) with six RBI and five runs scored in the two wins over the Wildcats.

Stepping Up: Freshman Jermaine Curtis was a major contributor to the Bruin lineup as he filled in for Sean Smith at second base in the last two games at Arizona. Curtis, a regular at third base, came in to score two runners with a base hit in Friday nights game, and went 2-for-5 with a three-run triple in a start at second in Saturday's game. Friday marked the first time all season Curtis played second base, and Saturday's game was his first start of the season away from the hot corner.

Huff Stuff: Junior Dave Huff gutted out a win for the Bruins on Friday night to earn his first complete game of the season. The line wasn't pretty, but Huff got the job done and then some. Huff went 9.0 innings with 11 strikeouts on 131 pitches, allowing eight runs (six earned) on 12 hits for the compete-game win. In his last four appearances, Huff has thrown 8.0 innings, 9.0 innings, 8.1 innings, and 9.0 innings, posting a 2-0 record with a 3.15 ERA, collecting 32 strikeouts in 34.1 total 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: UCLA will host No. 10 Arizona State for a three-game Pac-10 series beginning Friday, April 21 at 6 p.m.

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