No. 3 UCLA Baseball Set for Three-Game Series at No. 17 Oregon State

April 7, 2010

UCLA at Oregon State - Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

LOS ANGELES - The No. 3 UCLA baseball team plays a three-game Pac-10 series at No. 17 Oregon State this weekend (April 9-11) The Bruins (23-2, 2-1 Pac-10) won two of three games against the Beavers (19-6, 2-1) in Los Angeles last April, after Oregon State had won two of three against UCLA in 2008 (Corvallis, Ore.) and 2007 (Los Angeles). In a showdown of two of the nation's top pitching staffs, UCLA enters the weekend ranking first in the Pac-10 (and nation) in ERA, while Oregon State is third in the conference.

PROBABLE STARTERS (all three games at OSU's Goss Stadium)
Friday, April 9 (5:30 p.m.)

UCLA - Gerrit Cole, RHP, So. (6-0, 2.49)
Oregon State - Greg Peavey, RHP, Jr. (2-0, 2.13)

Saturday, April 10 (2 p.m.)
UCLA - Trevor Bauer, RHP, So. (5-1, 2.28)
Oregon State - TBA

Sunday, April 11 (12 p.m.)
UCLA - Rob Rasmussen, LHP, Jr. (4-0, 2.95)
Oregon State - TBA

UCLA leads the all-time series against Oregon State by a 29-20 margin. Over the last four seasons, the Bruins have posted a 5-6 record against the Beavers. No team has earned a sweep in the series since 2005 (Oregon State). UCLA last swept a three-game set against Oregon State in 2000. Last season, UCLA won the first and third games of the series at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Oregon State climbed out a 3-2 deficit in the ninth inning to secure a 5-3 victory in the second game of the three-game series.

The Bruins dropped a 6-1 decision to Cal State Fullerton at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium on Tuesday evening. The visiting Titans belted three home runs in the first inning to secure an early 5-0 advantage and never looked back. UCLA's pitching staff clamped down the rest of the way, limiting Cal State Fullerton to one run (unearned) and two hits through the final eight innings. Senior Blair Dunlap led the Bruins at the plate, going 2-for-5 with doubles. Sophomore Steve Rodriguez went 1-for-3, scoring UCLA's lone run.

UCLA's series victory over Stanford last weekend marked the fourth consecutive season in which the Bruins have won their first Pac-10 series of the year. In 2007, UCLA swept Stanford on the road, outscoring the Cardinal by a 34-17 margin. In 2008, the Bruins won two of three games at Arizona. Last spring, UCLA opened its Pac-10 schedule by winning two of three games at USC. Last weekend, junior Dean Espy went 5-for-9 (.556) with two doubles and two runs, and freshman Cody Keefer batted .364 (4-for-11) with four walks.

Sophomore right-hander Gerrit Cole, slated to start Friday evening, leads the Pac-10 with 61 strikeouts and ranks second among all conference pitchers with a .157 opponent batting average. Cole is tied with four Pac-10 pitchers for the conference lead in wins (6), as he enters the weekend series at Oregon State with a 6-0 record and 2.49 ERA in 43.1 innings. The native of Santa Ana, Calif., has become the first UCLA starting pitcher since 1997 to open a season with a record of 6-0 or better (Jim Parque went 11-0 through 13 starts).

Sophomore right-hander Trevor Bauer, the Bruins' starting pitcher this Saturday, has gone 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 43.1 innings. After graduating one semester early from high school, Bauer went 9-3 with a 2.99 ERA en route to earning Collegiate Baseball Newcomer of the Year honors and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year acclaim in 2009. Bauer ranks second in the Pac-10, through games played Tuesday, with 56 strikeouts and is seventh with a 2.28 ERA. The right-hander's .204 opponent batting average is eighth-lowest in the Pac-10.

Sophomore right-hander Dan Klein has registered a team-leading six saves as UCLA's closer. The native of Los Alamitos, Calif. (Servite HS), has not allowed any runs in 19.2 innings, limiting the opposition to 11 hits and a .164 batting average. Klein has collected 29 strikeouts and four walks in addition to posting a 2-0 record. In UCLA's four games last week, Klein went 1-0 with two saves, notching nine strikeouts and one walk in 4.2 innings. His six saves are tied for second-most among Pac-10 pitchers (with Washington's Adam Cimber).

In the latest NCAA Division I rankings (through games played Sunday), UCLA leads the country in team ERA, strikeouts per nine innings and hits allowed per nine innings. Additionally, the Bruins lead the Pac-10 (through games played Tuesday) in ERA (2.43), strikeouts (296), strikeouts per nine innings (11.8) and opponent batting average (.192). The Bruins' three weekend starters, in order - Gerrit Cole (61), Trevor Bauer (59) and Rob Rasmussen (55) - lead the Pac-10 in strikeouts. Gerrit Cole ranks second in opponent batting average (.157), Garett Claypool is third (.179), Rasmussen ranks sixth (.197) and Bauer is eighth (.204).

The Bruins' offense ranks third in the Pac-10 in batting average (.347) and second in slugging percentage (.510) and home runs (24). UCLA is third in runs (201) and on-base percentage (.429) and fourth in RBI (180). UCLA hitters have accrued the fifth-lowest strikeout total (155). Through April 6, sophomores Tyler Rahmatulla and Dean Espy rank fifth and sixth in the Pac-10, respectively, with .422 batting averages. Rahmatulla's .525 on-base percentage is the second-highest mark in the Pac-10, while Cody Keefer ranks sixth in OBP (.491).

Left-hander Rob Rasmussen has earned the victory in each of his last four starts, serving as the Bruins' 'Sunday starter'. Rasmussen, who hails from Arcadia, Calif. (Pasadena Poly), has limited the opposition to a .165 average in his last four starts, recording 32 strikeouts, eight walks and just four extra-base hits in that span of 23.1 innings. He helped UCLA defeat then-No. 25 Oklahoma at the Whataburger College Classic (March 14), recording seven strikeouts and three walks in 6.0 innings (one run, four hits).

Three UCLA hitters boast batting averages above the .400 plateau, nearly halfway through the season (minimum 55 at-bats). Sophomores Tyler Rahmatulla and Dean Espy have posted .422 batting averages, while senior Justin Uribe ranks third on the team with a .403 mark. Senior Blair Dunlap is close behind, sporting a .396 batting average with a team-leading 14 doubles. The last UCLA player to finish a season batting above .400 was Brian Baron in 2001, who totaled a single-season school-record .431 average.

Three freshmen left-handed hitters - Cody Keefer (.360), Beau Amaral (.343) and Cody Regis (.340) - have helped key UCLA's 23-2 start this season. Regis has split time with fellow rookie Dean Espy (sophomore, transfer from South Mountain CC in Phoenix) at third base, posting a .340 average with nine doubles and 18 RBI. Keefer has registered five doubles, 18 RBI, 21 runs and 21 walks, having started all 25 games in left field. Amaral has belted one home run, totaled nine RBI and 13 runs, and played in 21 games (16 starts in center field).

Senior Blair Dunlap has played in 23 games, making 22 starts as UCLA's designated hitter, and sports a .396 batting average. Dunlap leads UCLA with 14 doubles, having registered four two-double efforts, most recently against Cal State Fullerton last Tuesday (April 6). He ranks second on the team in hits (37) and slugging percentage (.660). A career .303 hitter, Dunlap has recorded 42 career doubles, two shy of breaking into UCLA's career top-10 doubles list. He is the Bruins' most veteran hitter with 169 hits in 558 career at-bats.

Junior Niko Gallego has started all 25 games at shortstop, batting at a .307 clip. The native of Yorba Linda, Calif. (Esperanza HS), has registered three home runs, one triple, four doubles and 25 runs (tied for team lead with Tyler Rahmatulla). Gallego is a perfect 7-for-7 on the base paths and has drawn 13 walks, tied for fourth-most on the club. Among UCLA's most veteran position players, Gallego has compiled a career batting average of .288, totaling 20 extra-base hits in 99 career games (91 starts).

Sophomore Steve Rodriguez has started as UCLA's catcher in 20 of 25 games this spring. He leads the team with five home runs and is batting at a .318 clip (21-for-66). Rodriguez has produced six two-hit efforts, helping guide the team's pitching staff to a Pac-10-leading 2.43 ERA and .192 opponent batting average. Along with catchers Trevor Brown and Tyler Heineman, Rodriguez has helped UCLA limit the opposition to 24 steal attempts against, the third-lowest total in the Pac-10. Brown has made five starts as UCLA's catcher.

UCLA's bullpen has gone 5-0 with a 2.27 ERA and seven saves through the Bruins' first 25 games. The Bruins' relief corps has logged 91 strikeouts and 21 walks, posting a .210 opponent batting average. Eight relief pitchers have combined to make 59 appearances out of the bullpen. Closer and right-hander Dan Klein leads the group with six saves in 19.2 scoreless innings. Left-hander Matt Grace has allowed just three runs (two earned) and eight hits through 11.1 innings, registering a 1.59 ERA and one save (12 K, 2 BB).

From here on out, UCLA will alternate its remaining eight weekend series at home and on the road. The Bruins will not play consecutive series at home or on the road. Of UCLA's remaining 30 games, 14 of those will be played at home and 16 will be on the road. After playing three games this weekend at Oregon State this weekend, the Bruins will play at UC Riverside next Tuesday (April 13) before returning home to host a three-game series against Oregon (April 16-18).

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).

During the Bruins' 22-0 start, UCLA trailed in eight ballgames and was tied (without trailing) in two games. The Bruins twice overcame a deficit of three runs, most recently by scoring two runs in the fourth inning and two in the eighth against Cal Poly on March 26, to secure their 19th consecutive win. The Bruins have won two games in walkoff fashion, ironically, in back-to-back games. A sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning against Nebraska (March 6) and versus UC Riverside (March 9) helped UCLA claim its ninth and 10th wins.

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