UCLA: Baseball

Baseball: Bruins lose top three signees

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
11:34
PM PT
The yearly "deadline day" has become a whirlwind of emotion and anticipation for UCLA head baseball coach John Savage. Monday night was no different, as the Bruins' skipper learned that his top three incoming freshmen -- first-round draft selection Joe Ross (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O'Dowd), supplemental first-rounder Tyler Goeddel (Hillsborough, Calif./St. Francis) and second-rounder Austin Hedges (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./JSerra) -- had signed professional contracts shortly prior to the 9 p.m. PT deadline.

And, just like that, years of recruiting, scouting and convincing were gone.

"You're talking about guys that stuck by their [signing] numbers, guys that knew exactly what it would take to sign them," Savage said. "And they got that, so there's no hard feelings."

Ross, a promising pitcher and 25th overall pick in June's draft, signed with the San Diego Padres, reportedly for a $2.75 million bonus. Goeddel, an outfielder chosen 41st overall by the Tampa Bay Rays and younger brother of former Bruins pitcher Erik Goeddel, reportedly signed for $1.5 million. Hedges, considered by many as the top defensive catcher in the draft, fell from the first round due to signability concerns. Still, he bagged a signing bonus of $3 million from the Padres, according to reports.

"The system probably needs to be looked at," Savage said. "There's no such thing as slot. That's clear. There's no hard feelings towards professional baseball or the families. In this business the only thing you ask for is honesty. I don't feel like we were involved with the wrong guys."

Savage said he and his staff spent more than two years luring the group to first choose, then sign with UCLA. The main objective, he said, is to recognize players that are serious about attending college. Savage did manage to hang on to infielder Kevin Kramer (Turlock, Calif./Turlock), a 25th-round pick of the Cleveland Indians, and pitcher Jacob Ehret (San Dimas, Calif./San Dimas), a 37th-round pick of the Florida Marlins.

Pitcher Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall selection, signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night. Over the years, Savage has lost players such as Jason Heyward (Atlanta Braves) and Tyler Chatwood (Los Angeles Angels) at the deadline.

"We still feel like the incoming class is very strong," Savage said, citing players like Eric Snyder (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) and Zack Ortiz (Cypress, Calif./Cypress). "Everybody that we sign is a good player. Whenever you lose three guys on the last day it's always difficult. You're prepared for it. You don't sit here and think you're going to get every player you sign. You're not going to hold on to everyone.

"I'm happy for the players and I'm happy for their families," Savage continued. "We'll be fine. The hard ones are when they say they'll sign for $1 million and they take $500,000. That's when I think the college coach gets upset."

Baseball: Five heading to the Cape

June, 16, 2011
6/16/11
11:53
AM PT
Nineteen UCLA baseball players will compete in collegiate leagues this summer, five of which will get a crack in the prestigious Cape Cod League in Massachusetts.

Beau Amaral, Cody Keefer and Scott Griggs -- each of which is entering the ever-important draft-eligible year -- along with pitchers Zack Weiss and Eric Jaffe will head to the Northeast looking to improve their stock against the nation's premier prospects.

Seven other Bruins will play in the West Coast Collegiate League, four in Northwoods League, two in the California Collegiate League and one in the Far West League. Among the group is catcher and potential starting quarterback Richard Brehaut, who will stay in California as a member of the Academy Barons, a team that plays its games at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

A list of the 19 players, with league and team in parentheses:

Brenton Allen (West Coast, Walla Walla)
Beau Amaral (Cape Cod, Chatham)
Richard Brehaut (California, Academy)
Trevor Brown (Northwoods, LaCrosse)
Brian Carroll (Northwoods, Wisconsin)
Ryan Deeter (West Coast, Bellingham)
Pat Gallagher (West Coast, Bellingham)
Jeff Gelalich (West Coast, Bellingham)
Matt Giovinazzo (Far West, Neptune Beach)
Scott Griggs (Cape Cod, Brewster)
Tyler Heineman (Northwoods, Wisconsin)
Eric Jaffe (Cape Cod, Chatham)
Cody Keefer (Cape Cod, Yarmouth-Dennis)
Michael Kerman (California, Academy)
Cody Regis (Northwoods, Wisconsin)
Eric Snyder (West Coast, Wenatchee)
Pat Valaika (West Coast, Wenatchee)
Zack Weiss (Cape Cod, Yarmouth-Dennis)
Kevin Williams (West Coast, Walla Walla)

Links to league websites: California Collegiate League, Cape Cod League, Far West League, Northwoods League, West Coast League.

Baseball: Savage adds to 2012 class

June, 9, 2011
6/09/11
5:30
PM PT
UCLA head coach John Savage announced Thursday the additions of Jacob Ehret (San Dimas, Calif./San Dimas), Justin Hazard (Tustin, Calif./Beckman) and Grant Watson (Bakersfield, Calif./Centennial) to the 2011-12 recruiting class.

Ehret, a right-handed pitcher, was selected in the 37th round by the Florida Marlins in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft Wednesday. Hazard, a catcher, batted .402 this spring in leading Beckman to a CIF-Southern Section title at Dodger Stadium. Watson, a left-handed pitcher, went 9-1 with a 2.02 ERA this past season.

“Jacob is a projection guy who has really good stuff and will be able to pitch right away in our program,” Savage said in a statement. “He has tremendous upside in regards to his abilities.

"Grant is a pitcher who has been very competitive over his career at Centennial High School,” Savage continued. “He is as left-handed strike thrower who will be an immediate help to our pitching staff.”

The late additions might be an indication that Savage anticipates the loss of signees. In all, nine Bruins and four potential incomers -- Joe Ross (25th overall, San Diego), Tyler Goeddel (41st overall, Tampa Bay), Austin Hedges (second round, San Diego Padres) and Kevin Kramer (25th round, Cleveland) -- were picked in the draft.

Baseball: Four more players picked

June, 8, 2011
6/08/11
9:45
PM PT
Tyler Rahmatulla, Chris Giovinazzo, Adrian Williams and Brandon Lodge were selected Wednesday in the final day of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft, bringing UCLA's total number to nine in the three days.

Giovinazzo (Los Angeles Angels, 39th round) is the only senior among the group. Rahmatulla (St. Louis Cardinals, 34th round), Williams (Milwaukee Brewers, 45th round) and Lodge (Los Angeles Angels, 47th round) could possibly return to the Bruins to improve their draft position.

Rahmatulla had an underachieving junior campaign, hitting .250 in 18 games while missing the final 40 because of academic ineligibility.

Giovinazzo, one of the team's four captains, was drafted in the 21st round by the Colorado Rockies in 2010.

Williams, a backup infielder in his three years in Westwood, batted .206 in 20 games last season.

Lodge made 18 appearances out of the bullpen in the last two years.

Baseball: Rodriguez, Espy, Beacom picked

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
6:21
PM PT
Catcher Steve Rodriguez, infielder Dean Espy and left-hander Mitchell Beacom were selected on the second day of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft Tuesday, bringing UCLA's total to five through 30 rounds.

Rodriguez and Espy were each chosen in the 15th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals, respectively. Beacom was taken in the 20th round by the San Francisco Giants.

Rodriguez, a starter in each of his three years, projects as a valuable, defense-first type of catcher. He threw out 22 of 54 attempted base stealers this past season and hit .215 in three seasons. Espy, who transferred to UCLA from South Mountain Community College (Phoenix) in the summer of 2009, led the Bruins with a .320 average. Beacom was the primary left-handed reliever this past season.

Baseball: Hedges taken in 2nd round

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
11:05
AM PT
UCLA signee Austin Hedges (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./JSerra) was selected Tuesday in the second round by the San Diego Padres in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft.

Considered the best defensive catcher in the draft, Hedges reportedly fell from the first round because of signability concerns. He was the fifth catcher taken and second by the Padres. San Diego also picked Bruins signee Joe Ross (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O'Dowd) in the first round.

Cole and Bauer leave a legacy at UCLA

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
6:40
AM PT

On the eve of the Major League baseball draft, Trevor Bauer sat alone in the back row of the empty stands at Jackie Robinson, gazing out into the nothingness of a chilly night with a blank stare that masked the swirl of emotion running through his head.

Moments earlier, UC Irvine had eliminated UCLA from the NCAA playoffs with a walk-off win, delivering a shocking and sudden end to Bauer's UCLA career.

Down the left field line in a tent set up near the UCLA clubhouse, Bruins Coach John Savage had his own moment of reflection. He, too, looked off into the distance with a contemplative stare, shocked and stunned about the loss, yes, but also by the realization that the end of an era had befallen UCLA.

Less than 24 hours later, the Arizona Diamondbacks made Bauer the No. 3 pick in the Major League Baseball draft. Just before that, the Pittsburgh Pirates made Gerrit Cole the No. 1 overall pick and just like that, the premier pitching tandem in UCLA history was history.

Bauer and Cole rewrote the pitching record books at UCLA, took the Bruins to unprecedented heights by leading them to the College World Series final last year and left an indelible mark on the program by raising the standards of excellence.

Now, both are head to the professional circuit and will almost certainly be in the big leagues before long.

"I think UCLA saw two of the best pitchers they’ve ever seen pitch in this program," Savage said during his moment of reflection. "They made an unbelievable footprint for younger guys and for the future. They’re special guys."

We found out Monday just how special.

(Read full post)

Baseball: Goeddel taken in first day

June, 6, 2011
6/06/11
8:54
PM PT
UCLA signee Tyler Goeddel (Hillsborough, Calif./St. Francis) was selected 41st overall in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft on Monday.

Goeddel, a lanky third baseman, is the younger brother of former Bruins pitcher Erik Goeddel (2009-10), who is now in the New York Mets organization.

Baseball: Ross drafted in first round

June, 6, 2011
6/06/11
7:34
PM PT
UCLA head coach John Savage pulled off a heist three years ago when former first-rounder Gerrit Cole, the top pick in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft on Monday, decided to attend college rather than sign professionally.

Savage finds himself in a similar scenario this year.

Bruins signee Joe Ross (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O'Dowd) was drafted 25th overall by the San Diego Padres on Monday, perhaps dealing a blow to Savage's pitching staff months before Ross' expected campus arrival. The right-hander would be a candidate to replace Cole (Pittsburgh Pirates) and third-overall selection Trevor Bauer (Arizona Diamondbacks) in the weekend rotation.

"Every situation is different," Savage said. "Depending on the family, depending on the level of education, the team, what year they draft you, it really comes down to what a guy thinks is in his best interest. I know Joe and his family will make the right decision."

Ross is the younger brother of former Cal and current Oakland Athletics pitcher Tyson Ross.

UCLA's season ends in familiar fashion

June, 5, 2011
6/05/11
11:45
PM PT
UCLA's baseball season came to an end with a 4-3 loss to UC Irvine in an NCAA regional game Sunday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium in a manner that has become quite familiar to Bruins' fans.

Some will blame Bruins closer Nick Vander Tuig for allowing the tying and winning runs to score on three hits in the bottom of the ninth as UC Irvine clinched a spot in the Super Regionals next week against Virginia.

But the Bruins lost this game, as they had lost so many this year, because they put too much weight and too much pressure on the shoulders of their elite pitching staff by continually failing to finish rallies.

UCLA left 13 men on base in Sunday's game, bring their total to 40 in four regional games. They scored only 10 runs in those four games and that was little for even one of the top starting pitching rotations in the nation to overcome.

"That was really the story of our season," coach John Savage said. "We just could not get people in."

Freshman Zack Weiss, a rising star, was the victim of that lack of run support on Sunday, but it could just have easily have been any one of the Bruins stellar starters. Weiss pitched eight innings and gave up three runs on six hits and three walks with six strikeouts.

He gave up consecutive singles to start the game, then didn't give up another hit until the fifth. UCLA managed to get a 3-0 lead by then, but had also left two men on base in each of the first four innings. Clinging to a 3-2 lead, the Bruins loaded the bases in the eighth, but left all three men out there.

The Bruins had gotten away with stranding 14 runners on Saturday thanks to a dominant pitching performance by Trevor Bauer in a 3-1 victory over Fresno State. They stranded eight runners Sunday afternoon, but Adam Plutko pitched a gem and UCLA won, 4-1.

But the high LOB total finally came back to haunt UCLA as Irvine rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth, a rally capped by Ronnie Shaeffer's two-strike walk-off single just inside the first base line to score pinch-runner Scott Gottschling with the winning run.

"I was just trying to get the guy in from third, that’s the main goal there," Shaeffer said. "I was sitting there ready for a fastball. Once I got to two strikes, I tried to battle and I stuck the bat out there and snuck it by the first baseman."

It's the type of clutch hit with men on that UCLA had trouble getting all season.

The Bruins this season averaged only 4.6 runs per game and ranked 249th of 292 teams in Division I before the regional started. They'll be even lower after averaging 2.5 in the four regional games. UCLA scored four runs or fewer in 38 of their 59 games this season. That's 64% of the time.

They also ranked 243rd with a .263 batting average and had only two regulars--Dean Espy and Cody Keefer--finish the season at .300 or higher. And they averaged 8.14 men left on base per game.

So that's why even with a starting rotation that boasts Gerrit Cole, the projected No. 1 pick in Monday's MLB Draft and Bauer, the premier pitcher in college baseball this season, the Bruins finished with a 35-24 record. UCLA had a team ERA of 2.44, the lowest at UCLA since 1969--in the wooden bat era--yet lost 24 games.

"For whatever reason, we didn’t produce enough runs for how many runners we had on," Savage said. "It’s frustrating."

It is a disappointing end for the Bruins, who had high hopes this season after advancing to the College World Series finals last year and returning a strong nucleus of players from that team. But the Bruins will be staying home this year with memories of missed opportunities to keep them company.

"I would say for us, we're disappointed that we didn't get where we want to go," designated hitter Jeff Gelalich said. "I know the guys that will be coming back will remember this and hopefully we will learn from this."

UCLA survives against USF; UC Irvine next

June, 5, 2011
6/05/11
5:59
PM PT
UCLA survived another elimination game, riding a masterful performance by freshman pitcher Adam Plutko to a 4-1 victory over San Francisco in an NCAA regional game Sunday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The Bruins advanced to play UC Irvine Sunday night with the hopes of extending the regional to a deciding game on Monday night. Should UC Irvine win Sunday night, the Anteaters will advance to the Super Regionals.

Plutko (7-4) dominated from the beginning, allowing only one hit and two walks in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out six and induced 15 fly ball outs, seven of which did not leave the infield. Closer Nick Vander Tuig gave up a run in the ninth, but closed out the Dons for his ninth save of the season.

"I really wasn’t that nervous," Plutko said. "I’ve pitched in a lot of big games in my life. I really used past experiences that I’ve had to not worrying about winning the game but worrying about each pitch that I throw."

Plutko got 15 fly ball outs to go along with six strikeouts and two ground outs. He had a no-hitter through four, and provided a nice follow up to Trevor Bauer's complete-game 3-1 victory over Fresno State on Saturday.

"You’re only as good as your starting pitching, Coach John Savage said. "You have to have good starting pitching in the regionals or you are going to go home pretty quick. To have Trevor do what he did on Saturday and then to have Adam do what he did, you tip your hat to those guys because they put their team in position."

UC Irvine takes control of L.A. Regional

June, 4, 2011
6/04/11
9:46
PM PT
UC Irvine moved into the driver's seat at the L.A. Regional with a 4-3 victory over San Francisco in a second-round game of the NCAA baseball playoffs Saturday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The No. 3-seeded Anteaters (41-16) now await the winner of the elimination game between No. 1 UCLA and No. 4 USF. Those teams meet at 2 p.m. Sunday and the winner plays Irvine at 6 p.m. Another victory for Irvine would send the Anteaters to the Super Regionals for the first time since 2008.

"Clearly we love being the team that’s 2-0," Irvine coach Mike Gillespie said. "We prefer to be the team that’s 2-0, not as much as we’d like to be the team 3-0. This is the position that every team wants to be in, so that’s a good thing for us. We trust that all of us know that there’s lots of work to be done so we have to stay after it."

Irvine pitcher Matt Whitehouse (4-0) held San Francisco in check, giving up two runs and four hits with seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings. San Francisco rallied with two runs in the ninth, but relievers Brian Hernandez and Jimmy Litchfield got the final two outs. Litchfield struck out San Francisco catcher Mason Morioka to end the game and picked up his third save of the season.

Irvine left fielder Drew Hillman provided the big blow, knocking a slider over the left field fence for a two-out, two-run home run in the sixth inning that gave Irvine a 4-0 lead.

San Francisco pitcher Matt Hiserman (6-4) took the loss despite a 98-pitch, complete game. He gave up seven hits and four runs with one walk and a strikeout, but made the crucial mistake to Hillman.

"I left a slider over the middle of the plate," he said. "I thought it was a good pitch, not a good location."

Bauer, UCLA survive Fresno St. hat trick

June, 4, 2011
6/04/11
8:50
PM PT
Opponents of UCLA have tried many different strategies against Trevor Bauer -- attack the fast ball, wait on the change up, go after the first pitch -- but most have come up empty.

Fresno State coach Mike Batesole tried a different approach Saturday: He went after Bauer's hat.

And in the end, it had the same result.

Bauer continued his season-long dominance on the mound Saturday at Jackie Robinson Stadium, shutting down a potent Fresno State offense as UCLA defeated the Bulldogs, 3-1, to fend off elimination and send Fresno State back over the Grapevine.

The Bruins will face San Francisco in another elimination game Sunday at 2 p.m. and they would certainly like to send Bauer back to the mound.

Bauer, the Collegiate Baseball national pitcher of the year, pitched a six-hitter with 14 strikeouts and two walks. It was his ninth consecutive complete game and he has now gone five consecutive starts without giving up more than one run.

Bauer (13-2) lowered his season ERA to 1.25 and increased his season strikeout total to 203 to set a new Pac-10 record. Just another day at the park for Bauer.

"It’s a big game obviously, the season is on the line, but it wasn’t any different for me," Bauer said. "It was another Saturday, 2 p.m. start against another good team."

(Read full post)

USF comes up aces against UCLA

June, 3, 2011
6/03/11
10:50
PM PT
Gerrit ColeJayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireGerrit Cole had 11 strikeouts against San Francisco, but he also gave up 11 hits.

All eyes were on Gerrit Cole Friday night as the UCLA ace made what is perhaps his final home start before heading off to the professional circuit next season, but San Francisco's unheralded pitcher Kyle Zimmer stole the show.

Zimmer, a sophomore right-hander, blanked the Bruins with a four-hitter as the No. 4-seeded Dons upset No. 1 UCLA, 3-0, in the first-round of the NCAA regionals at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

With about a dozen scouts pointing radar guns at the hard-throwing Cole, projected to be the first pick of Monday's MLB draft, Zimmer looked more like the future major league ace as he carried a two-hitter into the ninth and finished with 11 strikeouts and no walks.

UCLA (33-23) made things interesting by loading the bases with a two-out rally in the ninth, but Zimmer caught Cody Regis -- UCLA's home run leader -- looking at a fastball on the outside corner to end the game. San Francisco (32-23) moves on to play UC Irvine on Saturday at 6 p.m. while UCLA will face Fresno State in an elimination game at 2 p.m.

"Zimmer, I thought was as good as we’ve seen all year," UCLA coach John Savage said. "I don’t know what it was, he threw three pitches for strikes and threw strikes all night."

It was the first career complete game for Zimmer (6-4), who has only been the No. 1 starter for the Dons since May 7, when Matt Lujuan suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. He's now 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in the Friday night starter role.

"Nothing really changed," Zimmer said. "It's the same mound, the same game, I was just going out the night before I usually do. Just trying to go out here and keep things simple and attack like I saw Matt do so many times on Friday nights and give the team a chance to win."

(Read full post)

A battle of nerves in L.A. regional opener

June, 3, 2011
6/03/11
8:03
PM PT
Fresno State baseball coach Mike Batesole and UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie might have to have an arm wrestling contest to sort this out.

Irvine defeated Fresno, 12-6, in the opener of the Los Angeles regional Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium and the game featured a combined seven errors.

It was uncharacteristically sloppy for both teams as Fresno State, which made four errors, entered the regional ranked 34th in the nation in fielding percentage and UC Irvine was fourth.

Batesole argued that postseason jitters had nothing to do with either the errors or the performance of pitching ace Greg Gonzalez, who came into the game with an 11-0 record and a 1.43 ERA but gave up 12 hits and five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.

"He wasn’t nervous," Batesole said, interrupting a question directed at Gonzalez. "We've got to make some plays behind him. That ball that jumps up and almost hits [shortstop Garrett] Weber in the shoulder, that’s not him being nervous either. That’s him staying down there where he’s supposed to be and the ball jumps over his glove. You can’t say anybody was nervous out there."

Gillespie, however, had a different take when asked if nerves were to blame for the sloppy defense.

"Absolutely, without a question," he said. "I don’t see how they couldn’t be. I think you would have to check the pulse of the guy who isn’t excited and even nervous."

Jordan Leyland had two hits, including a three-run home run in the first inning, and five RBIs for the No. 2-seeded Anteaters. Irvine catcher Ronnie Shaffer had two hits and three RBIs while second baseman Tommy Reyes had three hits. Leyland, Shaffer and Reyes, the 7-8-9 batters for Irvine, were a combined 7-for-12 with nine RBIs.

Anteaters pitcher Matt Summers (11-2), coming off a no-hitter in his last start, gave up only one earned run on five hits with six strikeouts and a walk in six innings. The Bulldogs (40-15) entered the regional ranked No. 7 in the nation in home runs and No. 14 in slugging percentage, but had no extra base hits.

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