UCLA: Mitchell Beacom

Baseball: Rodriguez, Espy, Beacom picked

June, 7, 2011
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.

UCLA is well-armed for NCAA regional

June, 2, 2011
UCLA is the team nobody in the country wanted to face in an NCAA baseball regional, so you can imagine how San Francisco coach Nino Giarratano felt when he found out his team received the unenviable honor of playing the Bruins first.

“I was petrified,” Giarratano said.

The UCLA pitching staff tends to have that reaction on opposing coaches.

Juniors Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer give the Bruins the best 1-2 pitching punch in college baseball and Adam Plutko and Zack Weiss add the type of pitching depth that can help a staff dominate a regional by putting zeros on the board.

Cole (6-7), who will start UCLA’s regional opener against San Francisco Friday at 6 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium, is projected by some as the No. 1 pick in Monday’s MLB draft because of his ability to consistently throw fastballs in the 95-97 range and regularly top 100. He also mixes in a hard cutting slider and a devastating changeup.

Bauer (12-2) leads the nation with 189 strikeouts, 4.72 hits allowed per nine innings and is fifth with a 1.27 ERA. He was named Pac-10 pitcher of the year, is among the favorites to win national pitcher of the year and is a projected top-five pick in the MLB draft.

Add in Plutko (6-4), a blossoming freshman with a 2.16 ERA in 14 starts, and Weiss (5-3), the freshman whose 2.79 ERA and 5.9 hits allowed per nine innings stack up nicely against any fourth starter in the country, and you can see why the Bruins strike fear in the minds of anyone who must face them in a short series.

“It was fun for us to face them the first time, but I’m not so sure we ever wanted to see them again,” said Giarratano, whose team scored only one run while getting swept in a three-game, season-opening series at UCLA. “They’re that good.”

Indeed, UCLA ranks fourth in the nation with a team ERA of 2.45 and is second with 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings and also second with 6.57 hits allowed per nine innings. The Bruins used similar dominant pitching to win a regional last year, giving up only six runs in three games, as they propelled themselves toward a runner up finish in the College World Series.

It's not all good news on the UCLA pitching front, however. Left-handed reliever Mitchell Beacom, tied for the team lead with 25 appearances, is out for the regional with a broken foot. Beacom (0-2) is one of only two lefties in the UCLA bullpen and he last pitched May 20 against California. He broke his foot in an off-field accident at home and will be re-evaluated prior to the super regionals if UCLA advances, Savage said.

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Trevor Bauer is Pac-10 pitcher of the year

May, 31, 2011
UCLA's Trevor Bauer has been selected the Pac-10 Conference pitcher of the year and freshman pitcher Adam Plutko and sophomore outfielder Beau Amaral were first-team all conference selections.

Bauer (12-2) lead the Pac-10 with a 1.27 ERA and leads the nation with 189 strikeouts as UCLA heads in to the NCAA regionals beginning Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Opponents have batted only .151 against him and he set a conference record by earning six conference player of the week awards this season. He is projected as a top-five pick in Monday's major league baseball draft.

Bauer, a junior right-hander, has made the all-conference team in all three of his years at UCLA. He was 8-1 with eight complete games in nine Pac-10 starts this season. In those games, he had a 1.24 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 80 innings and pitched three shutouts.

Plutko (6-4) ranked fourth in the Pac-10 with a 2.16 ERA and has 86 strikeouts and 22 walks in 100.0 innings. He went 3-2 with a 2.51 ERA and one complete game shutout in nine Pac-10 starts. Amaral batted .307 with two home runs, 29 RBI and led the Bruins with 16 doubles, 35 runs scored and a .411 on-base percentage. Amaral batted a team-best .347 in Pac-10 games.

Junior pitcher Gerrit Cole, junior pitcher Mitchell Beacom, junior catcher Steve Rodriguez, sophomore outfielder Cody Keefer and freshman right-hander Nick Vander Tuig were named honorable mention all-conference.

Cole (6-7) has a 3.28 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 23 walks in 107.0 innings. Beacom, a key reliever, has a 2.20 ERA with 38 strikeouts and nine walks in 32.2 innings. Rodriguez has 17 RBIs and started 41 games as UCLA's catcher. Keefer has batted .305 as UCLA's everyday left fielder and Vander Tuig leads the Bruins with eight saves.

California's Tony Renda is the Pac-10 player of the year and Oregon State's Pat Caseywas named the Pac-10 coach of the year. Arizona State infielder Deven Marrero earned defensive player of the year and Stanford infielder Brian Ragira is the conference freshman of the year.

Zack Weiss gains confidence in UCLA loss

May, 24, 2011
IRVINE, Calif.--No. 21 UCLA lost to No. 16 UC Irvine, 2-1, in a nonconference baseball game Tuesday night at Anteater Ballpark, but it had to be considered a victory for freshman pitcher Zack Weiss.

The UCLA right hander rebounded from a rough start two weeks ago at Long Beach State and a skipped start last week when the lights went out just before his scheduled turn in the rotation last Tuesday and UCLA canceled its game against Cal State Fullerton.

So to come into a tough road environment late in the season having had two weeks to sit on that loss to Long Beach and hold a top-20 team to two runs on four hits meant a lot to Weiss and to UCLA.

"I was itching to get back out there," Weiss said. "I had a long wait between starts and some bad memories to think about that whole time. I made some mechanical adjustments and just attacked with the fastball."

That's something he didn't do two weeks ago, when the 49ers tagged Weiss for four runs on five hits, two hit batters and two wild pitches in four innings of a 4-2 loss.

Against Irvine, Weiss (5-3) was perfect through four innings and retired the side in order in six of his seven innings. He struck out four and walked one and threw 51 of his 85 pitches for strikes. He lowered his ERA to 2.54.

Freshman closer Nick Vander Tuig also performed admirably, coming in to a 1-1 game with runners at first and second with nobody out in the eighth and nearly getting out of it. He got a strikeout then gave up a single to load the bases. Irvine scored the eventual winning run when Sean Madigan hit a dribbler about 10 feet in front of home plate and the only play UCLA catcher Tyler Hineman had was to first base.

Still, Bruins Coach John Savage had nothing but praise for his freshmen pitchers.

"They gave up five hits," Savage said. "They pitched in front of a big crowd on the road. They looked the part tonight. And that's good because we’re going to need them in the post season. We’re going to need them down the road."

Getting Weiss back on track was particularly important. With their series victory over California last weekend, UCLA all but assured themselves a postseason berth so losing Tuesday's game wasn't that big of a blow.

It would have been if Weiss had another shaky outing, however, because a deep rotation is imperative in the playoffs. The Bruins are pretty set with Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer and Adam Plutko in the rotation and now Weiss has confidence as the Bruins head to Arizona State this weekend with a chance to win the Pac-10 Conference title.

"It's huge for him to pitch like this at this point in the season," Savage said. "We're going to need him in crucial situations coming up. We're talking about maybe coming out of the bullpen this weekend with the conference title on the line. We're talking about starting the fourth game of a regional. Four starters are better than three and we know we have a fourth starter in Zack Weiss."

What the Bruins don't know is what kind of offense they will have. Their disturbingly inconsistent offense sputtered Tuesday against UC Irvine freshman Andrew Thurman, who entered the game with a 3-3 record and a 4.11 ERA. UCLA only managed four hits against him and six for the game.

Thurman, who had previously struck out 45 batters in 57 innings, struck out nine Bruins in seven innings Tuesday night. UCLA struck out 13 times total, including three times to end innings with runners on base.

"It’s definitely a concern," said third baseman Cody Regis, who had two hits, including a fourth-inning home run that gave UCLA a 1-0 lead. "We tried to do too much instead of letting it come to us and letting things happen, we tried to overcompensate for things.

"But it was just an off night. I think if we just stick to the process and trust ourselves, I think we can beat any team in the country. We just have to do that."

Inconsistent hitting has been a season-long issue for UCLA, which is batting .260 for the season and is averaging 4.4 runs per game. The Bruins scored 10 runs May 14 against Cal state Bakersfield, but have scored only 11 runs in the five games since.

"We didn’t swing the bats very well," Savage said. "It’s disappointing because I thought we were kind of past that a little and we come out and strike out 13 times."

Notes: UCLA reliever Mitchell Beacom was in a walking boot and on crutches Tuesday, the result of a stress fracture in his foot. Beacom, one of only two left-handed pitchers the Bruins have, has a 2.20 ERA in 32.2 innings--all in relief. He is scheduled to have an MRI, but Savage said he's probably out for the weekend series at Arizona State.

"Right now he's out indefinitely," Savage said. "It's probably a post season thing at best depending on what they find with the MRI. It's unfortunate because we need him, especially against lefties."

UCLA offense struggles in 4-0 loss to Cal

May, 20, 2011
LOS ANGELES -- The college baseball season has entered the home stretch and UCLA can't seem to find the late-season magic that carried the Bruins to the College World Series finals last year.

And, it seems, they might be trying just a little too hard to find it.

UCLA lost to California, 4-0, Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, getting only three hits and wasting a solid effort by ace Gerrit Cole in the opening game of a crucial three-game Pac-10 Conference series.

The Bruins (29-20, 14-8) got only four runners past first base against California pitcher Erik Johnson, and struck out 10 times in the game -- seven times with runners on base. It was only the third time this season UCLA had been shut out, but it was the Bruins' fourth loss in six games.

"I think everybody is trying just a little too hard," Cole said. "I think everybody realizes how big the games are late in the season and I think everybody is pressing a little bit. In terms of the caring factor and the trying factor, I think it’s there, just maybe a little too much."

Maybe it's the pressure of trying to live up to the magical run of last season when UCLA won 13 of its last 17 regular season games and rode that momentum all the way to a national runner-up finish.

Case in point: With UCLA trialing, 1-0, Friday night, Bruins shortstop Pat Valaika was on first and was stealing when a 3-and-2 pitch to Jeff Gelealich got away from Cal catcher Chadd Krist. Valaika saw the passed ball, put his head down and headed for third base, ignoring the stop sign from third base coach T.J. Bruce, but Krist threw him out to end the inning.

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Baseball: Cal State Fullerton 5, UCLA 3

March, 29, 2011
FULLERTON -- Things may appear bleak now, but UCLA head coach John Savage is confident that brighter days are ahead.

He senses a shift coming.

The Bruins fell again Tuesday night, this time to local rival Cal State Fullerton, 5-3, before 1,910 at Goodwin Field. It was UCLA's seventh loss in the last 11 games and ninth on the season. Last spring, the national runner-up Bruins (11-9) didn't lose their ninth game until May 1.

"It's been frustrating," Savage said. "We've played a lot of tight ballgames. Tonight was a microcosm of our season."

UCLA, which began the season at No. 1 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and had dropped to No. 24 heading into Tuesday, had the tying runs on base in the eighth, but Marc Navarro popped out to end the threat. The Bruins stranded seven runners.

"We were close, one or two at-bats away," said junior Dean Espy, who had two of the Bruins' seven hits.

Despite the offensive struggles, Savage remains optimistic that his team will soon turn things around. UCLA went into Tuesday night touting a 1.97 team ERA -- 38 earned runs in 19 games -- while holding opponents to a .185 batting average.

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Baseball drops series opener

April, 9, 2010
The UCLA baseball team made Oregon State's Greg Peavey look more like Chicago White Sox star Jake Peavy on Friday night.

The No. 3 Bruins could never figure out Peavey, falling 4-1 before 2,517 at Goss Stadium in Corvallis, Ore. Peavey went the distance, surrendering a run and only two hits and striking out six. He retired 16 of the last 17 batters he faced. UCLA (23-3, 2-2 Pac-10) has lost three of four after winning its first 22 games.

UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole struck out 10 in six innings. He left with the score tied 1-1.

Left-handed reliever Mitchell Beacom came on in the seventh and failed to retire a batter, loading the bases before Erik Goeddel gave up a double to make it 4-1 Beavers.

No. 17 Oregon State improved to 20-6 overall and 3-1 in Pac-10 play. The teams meet again Saturday afternoon.



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D. Fuller4347111.04