UCLA has been ranked No. 1 in the nation by Baseball America and Yahoo! Sports, as announced in Monday's weekly rankings. The Bruins (25-3) have not been ranked No. 1 during any season since March 3, 1997, when UCLA assumed the top spot in Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.
This week, UCLA has also been ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll.
UCLA went 2-2 last week, dropping a midweek contest to Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday, before winning two of three games at No. 17 Oregon State. The Bruins lost the series opener, 4-1, on Friday evening. UCLA rebounded with a 3-1 victory in 16 innings on Saturday, before closing the series with an 8-2 victory on Sunday.
The Bruins opened the 2010 season ranked No. 23 in Baseball America's preseason poll, but have ascended to the top spot this week after having opened the season 22-0 before going 4-2 through their first six Pac-10 games.
UCLA entered the 2008 season as the preseason No. 1 selection by Baseball America and has not been ranked No. 1 by any national publication since that year (preseason or midseason).
The Bruins return to action at UC Riverside on Tuesday. Game time at Riverside Sports Complex is 6 p.m. UCLA plays a three-game series at home this weekend against Oregon. Game times are Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m. at Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The No. 1-ranked UCLA baseball team plays at UC Riverside on Tuesday evening. Game time at Riverside Sports Complex is 6 p.m. The Bruins (25-3) will turn to senior right-hander Garett Claypool, as UC Riverside (15-11) will counter with sophomore right-hander Eddie Orozco. UCLA edged UC Riverside, 3-2, in the teams' first meeting of the season on March 9. Claypool limited the Highlanders to two runs and three hits in 5.2 innings in that game before UCLA won the contest on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Tuesday, April 13 (6 p.m.) – at Riverside Sports Complex (Riverside, Calif.)
UCLA – Garett Claypool, RHP, Sr. (4-1, 2.06)
UC Riverside – Eddie Orozco, RHP, So. (0-1, 7.71)
LISTEN LIVE ONLINE
UCLA's game at UC Riverside will be broadcast online at uclabruins.com Tuesday evening (audio only). UCLA's John Ramey will have the call live from Riverside Sports Complex. All home UCLA baseball games, including this weekend's upcoming series against Oregon, will be broadcast live online. In addition, fans can follow pitch-by-pitch action online through GameTracker, available online on uclabruins.com.
The Bruins improved to 9-1 when playing away from home last weekend, taking two of three games at No. 17 Oregon State in UCLA's first Pac-10 road series of the season. After dropping the series opener, 4-1, on Friday evening, UCLA rebounded with a 3-1 victory in 16 innings on Saturday before defeating the host Beavers, 8-2, on Sunday afternoon. The Bruins' 16-inning game Saturday lasted six hours, 23 minutes. UCLA has now won six of its last 10 conference road series (dating to the start of 2008).
The Bruins have won their first two Pac-10 series for the first time since 2007. UCLA took two of three games from Stanford at home (April 1-3) before earning a series victory at Oregon State last weekend. In 2007, UCLA opened its Pac-10 slate winning 10 of its first 11 games, including a series sweep at Stanford followed by a series win at home versus Washington. That year, the Bruins won their first five Pac-10 series (including sweeps at Stanford and USC) before losing two of three games in each of their final three conference series.
Not only does UCLA's pitching staff lead the Pac-10 with 337 strikeouts (ahead of second-best Arizona State's 282), but the Bruins' three weekend starting pitchers are the conference's top three strikeout leaders. Gerrit Cole (71), Trevor Bauer (67) and Rob Rasmussen (63) have combined for 201 punchouts in 143.1 combined innings. Bauer ranks second in the Pac-10 in strikeouts looking (23) while Cole is tied for fifth (18) in that category. Cole struck out 10 batters at Oregon State, while Bauer and Rasmussen each logged eight strikeouts.
UCLA ranks third in the conference in batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.489) and on-base percentage (.417). UCLA has belted the second-most home runs (26) of any Pac-10 team. Entering midweek games, Dean Espy's .417 batting average ranks fourth-highest in the conference, while Tyler Rahmatulla's .410 mark is sixth-best. Rahmatulla's .533 on-base percentage ranks second, while Cody Keefer's .492 OBP is the sixth-highest mark among Pac-10 hitters.
UCLA's 16-inning contest on Saturday marked the program's longest game (by innings) since an 18-inning contest at Arizona State on Feb. 23, 1990. The Bruins lost a 6-5 decision in the series opener at Arizona State that evening before 4,037 fans. The longest extra-inning game in Pac-10 history came in 1972, as Washington and Oregon State played a 20-inning contest (date, score unknown). UCLA's 3-1 victory against Oregon State last Saturday lasted six hours, 23 minutes and featured 12 pitchers (eight by Oregon State, four by UCLA).
ASCENT UP THE POLLS
The Bruins have opened the week ranked No. 1 in the nation by Baseball America and Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com. In addition, UCLA is ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll and has been tabbed No. 4 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association. The Bruins have not been ranked, midseason, No. 1 by a major national publication since March 3, 1997 (Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball). UCLA was ranked as Baseball America's preseason No. 1 team at the start of the 2008 campaign.
Left-hander Rob Rasmussen has earned the victory in each of his last five starts. Rasmussen has gone 5-0 with a 2.89 ERA, 63 strikeouts and 19 walks through 43.2 innings. He threw a career-high seven innings in UCLA's 8-2 victory over Oregon State on Sunday, helping the Bruins secure the Pac-10 series victory. Rasmussen struck out eight batters and did not issue any walks for the second consecutive start. In his last five starts, Rasmussen has limited the opposition to a .179 average (.201 average on the season).
KLEIN CAN CLOSE
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 allowed one run through 22.1 innings. Klein has made a team-high 17 appearances, tied for the fourth-most in the Pac-10. He has recorded 33 strikeouts and six walks, holding the opposition to a .179 batting average. Sporting a 2-0 record, Klein surrendered his first run and was charged with his first blown save in UCLA's 3-1 victory in 16 innings on Saturday, April 10.
Sophomore right-hander Trevor Bauer has gone 5-1 with a 1.95 ERA in eight starts. Bauer ranks second among all Pac-10 pitchers (through Sunday) with 67 strikeouts and is seventh on the conference list in innings pitched (50.2). Bauer's .210 opponent batting average ranks ninth in the Pac-10. The native of Valencia, Calif., pitched 7.1 scoreless innings, scattering six hits in a no-decision on Saturday. Bauer struck out eight batters and walked one, as UCLA outlasted Oregon State, 3-1, in 16 innings.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE
Sophomore right-hander Gerrit Cole leads the Pac-10 with 71 strikeouts and has logged a team-leading 6-0 record in eight starts this spring. Cole is one of four Pac-10 pitchers to have registered six or more victories. The resident of Santa Ana, Calif., has posted a league-leading .156 opponent batting average, having surrendered 27 hits through 49.1 innings. Cole struck out 10 batters and walked seven in six innings last Friday and did not earn a decision in a 4-1 loss at Oregon State. No UCLA pitcher has gone 6-0 since 1997, when left-hander and eventual major leaguer Jim Parque started the year 11-0 through his first 13 starts.
UCLA has posted a 5-2 record against teams ranked in Baseball America's top-25 poll this season (team must be ranked in poll on day of game). UCLA defeated then-No. 25 Oklahoma, 5-2, in the Whataburger College Classic (March 14) before winning two of three games against then-No. 19 Stanford and then-No. 17 Oregon State. One year ago, the Bruins went 8-13 against top-25 competition, playing more games and earning more victories against top-25 teams than any other Pac-10 program. Looking ahead, the Bruins are slated to play 10 more games against teams ranked in Baseball America's top-25 poll.
Senior Blair Dunlap has played in 24 games, making 23 starts as UCLA's designated hitter, and sports a .378 batting average. Dunlap leads UCLA with 14 doubles, having registered four two-double efforts, most recently against Cal State Fullerton on April 6). He ranks second on the team in hits (37) and third in slugging percentage (.633). A career .301 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 562 career at-bats.
GETTING ON BASE
Freshman Cody Keefer ranks fifth on the ballclub with a .351 batting average and is second on the team with a .492 on-base percentage. Keefer's 25-walk total is second on the squad behind sophomore Tyler Rahmatulla (27 walks). Keefer was selected in the 33rd round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers. The native of Davis, Calif., has started all 28 games in left field for UCLA this spring. Keefer is third on the team with 34 hits and ranks fifth with 22 runs. He has recorded nine multiple-hit games during his freshman campaign.
BEHIND THE PLATE
Sophomore Steve Rodriguez has started as UCLA's catcher in 23 of 28 games this spring. He leads the team with five home runs and is batting at a .309 clip. Rodriguez delievered the game-winning two-RBI single in UCLA's 16-inning, 3-1 victory at Oregon State (April 10), going 4-for-8 in that contest. He has helped guide the Bruins' pitching staff to a Pac-10-leading 2.36 ERA and .194 opponent batting average. UCLA catchers have limited the opposition to 27 steal attempts, third-fewest among all Pac-10 programs.
LOOKING FOR RELIEF
UCLA's bullpen has gone 6-1 with a 2.36 ERA and eight saves through 28 games. The Bruins' relief corps has logged 106 strikeouts and 29 walks, posting a .210 opponent batting average. Eight relief pitchers have combined to make 65 appearances out of the bullpen. No relief appearance may have been more impressive than that of right-hander Garett Claypool in UCLA's 16-inning victory at Oregon State on April 10. Claypool earned the victory, limiting the Beavers to one hit in 4.2 frames. He had five strikeouts and one walk.
NOTES ON A STREAK
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).
The Bruins have officially reached the halfway point of their 56-game regular-season schedule. From here on out, UCLA will alternate its remaining seven weekend series at home and on the road. Of the team's remaining 27 games, 14 of those will be played at home and 13 will take place on the road. Following Tuesday's midweek game at UC Riverside and this weekend's three-game set at versus Oregon, the Bruins will host Long Beach State on Tuesday, April 20, before playing a three-game Pac-10 series at Arizona (Tucson) from April 23-25.