UCLA Baseball to Renew Rivalry at USC This Weekend

April 12, 2007

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Los Angeles - UCLA hits the freeway this weekend to face crosstown rival USC at Dedeaux Field. With a series win, the Bruins can capture victory in the 2006-07 Lexus Gauntlet Challenege, a year-long competition determined by head-to-head competition in 18 sports. Last season, the UCLA baseball team won two of three games against USC (at UCLA, May 12-14).

The Bruins have totaled a 110-146 lifetime record against the Trojans and have finished 25-62 at Dedeaux Field since 1975. Saturday afternoon's game will be televised live by Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket at 1:30 p.m., as Bill MacDonald and John Jackson will call the action. Danny Lee and Tim Wilhelm will have the call on UCLA's Internet Radio at uclabruins.com each day.

SERIES SCHEDULE (all games at USC's Dedeaux Field)
Friday at 7:30 p.m. - Internet Radio
Saturday at 1:30 p.m. - FSN Prime Ticket, Internet Radio
Sunday at 1:00 p.m. - Internet Radio

UCLA - 15-16 overall, 5-1 Pac-10
USC - 19-15 overall, 2-4 Pac-10

Friday - UCLA Tyson Brummett (RHP) vs. USC Brad Boxberger (RHP)
Saturday - UCLA Tim Murphy (LHP) vs. USC Ryan Cook (RHP)
Sunday - UCLA Gavin Brooks (LHP) vs. USC Anthony Vasquez (LHP)

The Bruins can claim victory in the 2006-07 Lexus Gauntlet Challenge this weekend with a baseball series victory. UCLA leads the overall Lexus Gauntlet standings 52.5 to 22.5 and needs just five more points to reach the 57.5-point total necessary to clinch the title.

The Bruins have won seven of their last nine games, posting a .331 batting average in that span. Santa Monica, Calif., native Cody Decker has belted five of the team's 15 home runs through the last nine games. Gabe Cohen and Ryan Babineau have each hit three home runs in that nine-game stretch. Brandon Crawford has hit two of his five home runs this season in that span.

UCLA reeled off seven-consecutive victories from March 25 through April 6, marking the longest win streak under John Savage at UCLA. The streak began against Pacific, when the Bruins used a 14-run eighth inning to erase an 8-1 deficit and and win 15-8. UCLA won the three-game set against Pacific before traveling north to sweep Stanford at Sunken Diamond for the first time since 1991. Following two wins against Washington, the Bruins had outscored their opponents 74-35 in those seven games.

Senior right-hander Tyson Brummett will make his 10th start of the season Friday night, bringing a 5-4 record and a 2.96 ERA into the series opener. Brummett made his first relief appearance of the season Tuesday against UC Irvine, allowing one hit and striking out four in 1.1 scoreless innings. The Salem, Utah, native has tossed three complete games and leads UCLA with 63 strikeouts.

Freshman Gabe Cohen has recorded a .487 batting average in UCLA's last nine games, collecting nine RBI, nine runs scored, three home runs and three doubles. Cohen has started 21 of 31 games in right field, including the Bruins' last 11 contests. The first-year Bruin leads the team with a .363 average and has collected five home runs, tied for second-most with sophomore Brandon Crawford.

The Bruins captured the season series against USC last spring, winning the Saturday and Sunday afternoon contests at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA fell, 8-3, to USC on Friday before bouncing back with an 8-3 victory on Saturday and a 12-1 win on Sunday. Chris Jensen led UCLA at the plate, hitting at a .571 clip (8-for-14, six runs, five RBI). Cody Decker blasted two home runs and finished 4-for-9. Tyson Brummett pitched a complete game to earn the victory Sunday, allowing one run off six hits.

Junior Alden Carrithers is hitting .452 through the Bruins' last nine games and boasts a .353 average (third-highest on the club). Carrithers has tallied a team-leading .444 on-base percentage and is hitting .400 (20-for-50) with runners on-base and .355 (11-for-31) with runners in scoring position. He has posted an .800 average (8-for-10) when hitting with a runner on third and less than two outs.

Sophomore Brandon Crawford leads UCLA's offense in multiple categories, including hits (44), at-bats (124), runs scored (32), RBI (31), total bases (73), stolen bases (9), and fielding assists (80). The Pleasanton, Calif., resident earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors the week of Feb. 12-18.

According to Boyd's World, a national strength of schedule ranking service, UCLA faces the third-most difficult schedule in the nation this season. The Bruins play 19 games against teams currently ranked in Baseball America's top-25 poll. Likewise, 50 of UCLA's 56 regular-season games are against teams either ranked in or receiving votes in Collegiate Baseball's preseason 'Fabulous 40' poll.

UCLA hosts Pepperdine on Tuesday, April 17 at 6 p.m. Last season, the Bruins and Waves split the regular-season home-and-home series, before Pepperdine blanked UCLA, 6-0, in the NCAA Tournament's Malibu Regional. The Bruins own a 31-22-3 record against the Waves since 1975.

After starting 5-0 in the Pac-10 prior to last weekend's 9-4 loss to Washington, UCLA was off to its best conference start since 1977, when the Bruins began their Pac-8 schedule with a 5-0 mark before ending the season 10-8 in the conference. UCLA's 1967 squad began its AAWU slate with a 6-0 record.

The Bruins made history on Sunday, March 25 against Pacific. Trailing 8-1 in the eighth, UCLA posted a school-record 14-run inning to defeat the Tigers, 15-8. Sophomore Cody Decker inititated the Bruins' heroics with a grand slam and finished with a career-high five RBI. UCLA had previously scored 13 runs in one inning - versus Winthrop on Feb. 4, 2007 and against Arizona State on Feb. 28, 1997.

One weekend later, UCLA became the first team to sweep Stanford at Sunken Diamond in a three-game regular-season series since Arizona State accomplished the feat in 1997. Stanford had not been swept at home in its previous 71 home series. UCLA had not swept the Cardinal on the road since 1991 and had not swept a series against Stanford since 1997.

Sophomore catcher Ryan Babineau has played in all 31 games, earning 30 starts as the Bruins' catcher. Babineau has thrown out 21 of 60 attempted base stealers in his career at UCLA (35.0 percent). A freshman All-America selection by Baseball America in 2006, Babineau has committed one error in 691 career chances (613 putouts, 78 assists). Last year, he caught 56 of the Bruins' 58 games and helped lead the pitching staff to the second-lowest ERA in the Pac-10 (3.77).

Sophomore shortstop Brandon Crawford has excelled under the lights in 2007. Through 16 night games, Crawford has posted a .393 batting average (24-for-61) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, 12 runs scored and 14 RBI. Freshman right-hander Garett Claypool has allowed three runs off nine hits through 15.2 innings at night, recording 16 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA.

Senior Will Penniall has sparked the UCLA lineup since opening day and currently boasts a .328 batting average, the fourth-highest mark on the team. The La Cañada, Calif., native has been a great asset to the team as a starter and coming off the bench. Hitting 2-for-4 as a pinch-hitter, Penniall has totaled 20 hits, 10 runs, seven RBI, 22 total bases and four stolen bases in 20 games (15 starts).

Sophomore Jermaine Curtis returned to the lineup at Stanford (March 30) after missing the first 24 games. Curtis was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the winter quarter. Curtis had an impressive debut for the Bruins, hitting 2-for-5 with a career-high four RBI in UCLA's 8-2 series-opening win at Stanford.

Former UCLA right-hander Casey Janssen earned a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen to open the 2007 season. In three relief outings, Janssen has thrown 5.2 scoreless innings and allowed one hit while striking out two. The former Bruin earned his first major league save Sunday, April 8, striking out one without allowing a hit in 2.0 scoreless innings. Through eight relief appearances in the spring, Janssen posted a 1.84 ERA and recorded 18 strikeouts while issuing just one walk.

When Major League Baseball kicked off its season April 2, eight former UCLA ballplayers earned spots on a major league roster. Garrett Atkins (Colorado), Eric Byrnes (Arizona), Jeff Conine (Cincinnati), Troy Glaus (Toronto), Casey Janssen (Toronto), Adam Melhuse (Oakland), Dave Roberts (San Francisco) and Chase Utley (Philadelphia) entered the 2007 season on their teams' respective 25-man opening day roster.

Sophomore Blair Dunlap and freshman Jeff Rapoport are unavailable to play due to shoulder injuries. Senior Nolan Rouse (arm) is also unavailable to play this week.

UCLA was selected fourth in the Pac-10 Conference's preseason coaches poll. The Bruins were picked to finish behind Arizona State, Oregon State, and Stanford, respectively. Last season, UCLA was selected eighth in the preseason poll and finished third in the Pac-10 with a 13-10 conference mark (33-25 overall).

One year ago, Jermaine Curtis led UCLA with a .390 batting average in Pac-10 play. As a freshman, Curtis started 17 conference games and played in 20. The Fontana, Calif., resident collected 14 runs, three doubles, two triples and 13 RBI. Ryan Babineau posted a .351 average in Pac-10 action, starting all 23 games. Babineau led the Bruins with three home runs in conference play, recording 13 RBI and 11 runs. UCLA's Hector Ambriz, Babineau and Dave Huff earned 2006 All-Pac-10 honors. Curtis, Brandon Crawford and Paul Oseguera captured All-Pac 10 Honorable Mention accolades.

Baseball America selected UCLA as its preseason pick to win the Pac-10 title. B.A. projected UCLA to join Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was selected to its preseason All-Pac-10 Team, and right-handed pitcher Charles Brewer was listed as the Pac-10's fifth-best newcomer. The magazine projected Brant Rustich as the Pac-10's ninth-best pro prospect (2007). In its ranking of 'best tools' in the Pac-10, Baseball America named Crawford as the 'best athlete,' 'best defensive shortstop' and infielder with the 'best arm.' Ryan Babineau was listed as the catcher with the 'best arm,' Jermaine Curtis as 'best defensive third baseman,' right-hander Tyson Brummett with the 'best changeup' and outfielder Jeff Rapoport as the 'fastest runner.'

Sophomore Brandon Crawford was named to the 2007 Wallace Watch List by the College Baseball Foundation in November. The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. The list of 148 ballplayers will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May. The selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals.

Playing a road schedule that has featured trips to Miami, Mississippi, San Diego State and Stanford, the Bruins have traveled roughly 10,554 miles this season, round trips included. UCLA played at the University of Miami (2,744 mi.) in the second weekend of the season, traveled locally for a game at Long Beach State (35 mi.) and Cal State Fullerton (42 mi.), spent back-to-back weekends at Ole Miss (1,900 mi.) and San Diego State (135 mi.) and opened Pac-10 play at Stanford (410 mi.). UCLA's remaining road slate includes trips to USC, Arizona State and Washington State.

Sophomore Brandon Crawford spent his summer playing for the U.S. National Team and helped lead Team USA to the FISU (International University Sports Federation) World Championship after the club posted a 28-2-1 overall mark. Crawford played in 23 games, starting 10, and hit .257 (9-for-35). He collected two doubles, six RBI, seven runs, three walks and one stolen base.

The Bruins will play their next 16 games in California (10 home, 6 road). Over that 19-game span, UCLA will Pepperdine (1), Cal State Northridge (3), Arizona (3) and California (3). In-state road games will include USC (3), UC Riverside (1), UC Irvine (1) and Pepperdine (1). The Bruins will not leave California until they play at Arizona State from May 11-13. UCLA will hit the road for consecutive weekends when playing at Arizona State and Washington State.

UCLA has not played any extra-inning games this season. In 2006, the Bruins won two of three extra-inning contests. The Bruins defeated Washington, 3-2, in 11 innings and topped Arizona State, 11-10, in 10 innings. Washington State edged UCLA, 4-3 in 10 frames. Under head coach John Savage, the Bruins have compiled a 4-3 record in extra-inning games.

Former Bruin Chase Utley signed a seven-year, $85 million contract extension through 2013 with the Phillies, the ballclub announced on Jan. 21. Utley, who broke into the major leagues in 2003 after Philadelphia drafted him as the second overall selection in the 2000 MLB Draft, finished his three-year career at UCLA with a .342 average, 41 doubles, four triples, 53 home runs and 174 RBI. The former Bruin has had an outstanding spring, having hit at a .368 clip in 19 games (through Monday, March 26). The Phillies' second baseman has smacked six home runs, the most on Philadelphia's squad this spring. Utley ranks fourth on UCLA's career HR list (53) and fifth on the all-time hits list (256).

Five former Bruins were rated as the top prospects in their respective MLB organizations. Dave Huff, last season's ace, has been ranked the No. 10 prospect in Cleveland's organization. Hector Ambriz, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2003, 2005-06), has been tabbed the No. 22 prospect in Arizona's farm system. Wes Whisler, a three-year letterwinner at UCLA (2002-04), is rated the No. 29 prospect in the Chicago White Sox organzation. Ben Francisco (2001-02) and Paul Oseguera (2005-06) have each earned honorable mention prospect accolades (Cleveland and San Francisco, respectively).

Former Bruin Torey Lovullo has been making large strides as a minor league coach. After retiring as a professional ballplayer in 1999, Lovullo broke into coaching in 2001 as a roving coordinator with the Cleveland Indians. After having spent portions of three seasons with the Buffalo Bisons (Cleveland's AAA affilaite), Lovullo returned to Buffalo in 2006 after winning back-to-back Manager of the Year Awards with the Carolina League's Kinston Indians and the Eastern League's Akron Aeros in 2004 and 2005, respectively. While at UCLA, Lovullo recorded a .311 average, 45 doubles, six triples and 51 home runs in four seasons.

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