No. 23 UCLA Baseball Excited to Play in First-Ever Dodgertown Classic
Feb. 24, 2010
LOS ANGELES - The No. 23 UCLA baseball team enters its second weekend of the season by playing in the first-ever Dodgertown Classic. The Bruins host Vanderbilt and Oklahoma State on Friday and Saturday before facing USC at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. Presale tickets to the game at Dodger Stadium cost just $5 and parking is free.
Sunday's contest marks the first time that UCLA has ever played a game at Dodger Stadium. Last season, the Bruins won a three-game series against USC at Dedeaux Field (two games to one). UCLA has never before played Vanderbilt in baseball. The Bruins last faced Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., in the 1997 Midwest Regional, winning both games by a combined 36-4 margin to advance to the College World Series.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, February 26 (6 p.m.) - Jackie Robinson Stadium
Vanderbilt - Sonny Gray, RHP, So. (1-0, 0.00)
UCLA - Gerrit Cole, RHP, So. (1-0, 3.00)
Saturday, February 27 (2 p.m.) - Jackie Robinson Stadium
Oklahoma State - Thomas Keeling, LHP, Jr. (0-0, 0.00)
UCLA - Trevor Bauer, RHP, So. (1-0, 3.38)
Sunday, February 28 (2 p.m.) - Dodger Stadium, TV: Prime Ticket
USC - Kevin Couture, RHP, Sr. (0-0, 3.86)
UCLA - Rob Rasmussen, LHP, Jr. (0-0, 9.82)
GETTING TO THE JACKIE ROBINSON STADIUM
UCLA's Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium is located on the grounds of the West Los Angeles Veteran Administration, just north of Wilshire Blvd. and west of the 405 Freeway. Fans can enter the stadium from Wilshire Blvd. (take ramp to Bonsalle Ave. on VA grounds slightly west of Sepulveda Blvd.) or at the intersection of Sepulveda Blvd. and Constitution Ave. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for children 16 years and younger. UCLA's baseball concession stand is stocked with hot dogs, peanuts, sodas and much more classic ballpark food.
LISTEN LIVE ONLINE
All home baseball games will be broadcast live on the Bruins' baseball website 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, a pitch-by-pitch update of the game in progress, located at uclabruins.com. Saturday's game in Compton, Calif., will be available on national television (MLB Network).
ABOUT THE DODGERTOWN CLASSIC
UCLA will serve as the designated home team in its game against USC on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Vanderbilt will play Oklahoma State at Dodger Stadium at 10 a.m. Fans can purchase tickets at UCLA's Central Ticket Office in the James West Alumni Center for $5. Day of game tickets will cost $10 at Dodger Stadium. One ticket grants admission to both baseball games. All tickets are general admission on the field level. UCLA fans are encouraged to wear blue and sit on the third-base side behind UCLA's dugout. Parking for the event is free (Elysian Park Avenue entrance).
The Bruins have opened the season 4-0 for the first time since 2000. UCLA has scored in double-digits in each of their first four contests for the first time in at least 35 seasons (records unavailable prior to 1966). Anchored by their opening night 16-2 victory over Southern, the Bruins have outscored the opposition by a combined 50-11 margin. Most recently, UCLA shut down Long Beach State at Blair Field on Tuesday, 10-1. The Bruins' offense boasts a .393 batting average with a Pac-10-leading 10 home runs. UCLA's pitching staff has logged a 2.50 ERA and .168 opponent batting average, notching 48 strikeouts and six walks in 36 innings.
Friday evening's pitching matchup features UCLA's Gerrit Cole and Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray, two sophomore right-handers who each starred on USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2009. Cole went 4-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 34.0 innings for Team USA. Gray went 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24.0 frames for the Collegiate National Team. The USA National Team ended its summer by winning the 2009 Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline World Baseball Challenge at Prince George Citizen Field in British Columbia. UCLA sophomore pitcher Trevor Bauer also competed on Team USA with Cole and Gray.
The Bruins' incoming crop of position players have batted a combined .434 this season, going 20-for-46 with 20 runs, 16 RBI, three home runs and eight walks. Freshmen Beau Amaral (7-for-15, 5 runs), Cody Keefer (5-for-14, eight walks) and Cody Regis (5-for-10, 4 RBI) and sophomore Dean Espy (3-for-6, 2 HR, 5 RBI) have led that group at the plate. Amaral went 4-for-5 with three RBI, two runs and a game-tying three-run homer against Cal State Northridge in the Bruins' 14-5 victory on Sunday afternoon. Regis was 2-for-4 with two RBI in a 10-1 non-conference win at Long Beach State on Tuesday evening.
Entering the 2010 season, the Bruins returned just four players who hit a combined 13 of UCLA's 54 home runs in 2009. Through four games, UCLA has belted a Pac-10-best 10 home runs. Blair Dunlap smacked the first pitch as UCLA's leadoff hitter in the first inning of its season opener on Friday beyond the left-field wall for a solo homer. Steve Rodriguez has led the group with four homers - including two Saturday against Bethune Cookman on national television (MLB Network). Dean Espy belted two round-trippers, while Beau Amaral, Niko Gallego and Marc Navarro each hit their first collegiate home runs last weekend.
STRONG AS A BULL
Six UCLA relief pitchers have limited the opposition to one run (unearned) and a .150 batting average in 11.1 innings. The bullpen has surrendered six hits, notching 15 strikeouts without allowing any walks. Erik Goeddel earned his first career victory on Sunday, allowing one unearned run and four hits in 2.2 innings (four strikeouts, no walks). Dan Klein, slated to serve as the Bruins' closer, has made three relief outings this season, tossing one scoreless frame in victories on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday. Matt Grace hurled 2.2 scoreless innings in two outings, and Brandon Lodge and Mitchell Beacom have each tossed one scoreless inning.
UP THE MIDDLE
Shortstop Niko Gallego and second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla have started each of the Bruins' first four games. Gallego, the son of former major leaguer Mike Gallego, has batted .313 with eight RBI and four runs. Rahmatulla has batted .412, going 7-for-17, with five RBI and two runs. Rahmatulla had a key bases-clearing double in UCLA's 14-5 comeback victory against Cal State Northridge last Sunday afternoon. The Bruins also have Adrian Williams available to play either middle infield position.
Seniors Blair Dunlap and Justin Uribe return as two of the Bruins' most talented veteran hitters. Dunlap has batted .364 through the season's first four games, recording three RBI and scoring five runs. The redshirt senior from Mission Viejo, Calif., is UCLA's most veteran player and is a two-time All-NACA Regional Team selection (2006 at Pepperdine, 2008 at Fullerton). Uribe has batted over .283 in each of his three seasons in Westwood. A first baseman from Santa Ana, Calif., Uribe is batting .357 with one double and three runs this spring. Uribe batted .318 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 47 games (41 starts) in 2009.
UCLA has scored in 22 of its 34 offensive innings this season. The Bruins crossed the plate a season-high nine times in the bottom of the first against Southern in both teams' season-opening contest on Friday, Feb. 19. UCLA cruised to a 16-2 victory in that game. The Bruins have twice scored in the first inning this season and are 3-0 when scoring before their opponent. UCLA overcame a 4-1 deficit against Cal State Northridge on Sunday, Feb. 21, to win by a 14-5 margin. Through four games, UCLA has received at least one home run from six players and one extra-base hit from 11 players.
Sophomore right-handers Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole have each been named to a pair of preseason All-America lists. Bauer secured third-team preseason accolades from Collegiate Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Cole earned second-team preseason honors from Baseball America and third-team acclaim from Collegiate Baseball.
Baseball America predicted that UCLA will finish second in the Pac-10 standings, behind defending conference champion Arizona State. The national baseball publication projected four Pac-10 teams to secure NCAA Regional berths (Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford). Baseball America's preseason All-Conference Team includes right-hander Gerrit Cole. Outfielder Cody Keefer is rated as the Pac-10's ninth-best newcomer. Left-hander Rob Rasmussen is listed as the Pac-10's top draft prospect for the June 2010 MLB Draft.
WELCOME TO WESTWOOD
The Bruins' 2010 roster features 14 newcomers (13 freshmen and one JC transfer). Freshmen outfielders Beau Amaral (Huntington Beach HS), Jeff Gelalich (Bonita HS) and Cody Keefer (Davis Senior HS) are expected to push for starting roles in their rookie campaigns. Freshman Dennis Holt (Esperanza HS) can play in the outfield and serve as a left-handed pitcher in the bullpen. Freshman Trevor Brown (Hart HS) will compete for playing time behind the plate along with classmate Tyler Heineman (Windward School).
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