Blair Dunlap and co have a big game tonight in the OC. Photo Credit: UCLA Baseball (flickr)
Let's start our Tuesday with baseball news. Bruins (now ranked number 7 in the country) have a big game tonight against number 8 ranked Cal State Fullerton (37-15) at Goodwin Field in the OC. CSUF is obviously a traditional baseball power, who have had UCLA's numbers over the years. A victory tonight will be huge for the Bruins (41-11) in terms of solidifying their chances to host a super regional (if they can get through the regional) in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
Reliable senior Garett Claypool (8-2, 2.02) will be our usual Tuesday starter against Titans' Colin O'Connell, RHP, So. (0-1, 4.30). Jon Gold profiled Claypool in today's Daily News. Claypool with his impressive statistics compiled in 71 1/3 innings (holding opposing batters to a "miniscule .176 clip) has been a reliable "bridge" between Rob Rasmussen (Sunday starter) and Gerrit Cole (Friday starter):
"We look at Tuesday as just as important as our weekends," Savage said. "We're playing the Fullertons, the Irvines, the Pepperdines. The teams we play on Tuesday are just as good; this is a college baseball hotbed. For us to have a chance to win 40 games, to have a high RPI, to put ourselves in the position we're in, it's critical to have a guy who's so dependable.
"He's been money, man."
Claypool has been on target on other days as well:
Savage considers Claypool's four-inning effort in UCLA's 3-1, 16-inning win over Oregon State on April 10 as perhaps the team's most important four innings of the season.
After starting the season 22-0, the Bruins had lost three of four going into that Saturday matchup with the Beavers, and they needed to regain that early season momentum.
"That was just a crazy game," said Claypool, who will square off against Cal State Fullerton at 6 p.m. tonight. "I wasn't really expecting to throw more than two innings. I had just thrown six or seven innings, but they needed me to throw a lot. I didn't feel great, but mentally I had to stay focused. That was one of our first big challenges.
Claypool will have a huge challenge against the Titans tonight. You can read up the official notes here. You can also follow the game along tonight through video stream provided by Big West TV. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 pm PST. More Bruin notes including some news from the football front after the jump.
Gold also recently caught up with Kevin Prince. Prince as usual maintained perspective while talking to reporters looking for a provocative line:
You seemed to have a bit of an edge in spring ball compared to last season. Getting a little cocky?
Kevin Prince: "It's not cockiness, it's more of just a self-confidence after going through a season and playing a significant amount. Going into last season, there were those doubts. I hadn't played for two years, it was my first time in a division one college situation. Now, knowing I can do it, knowing I can practice, knowing I can work hard, it brings a lot of self-confidence. I expect myself to do a lot better than last year. I don't expect to be the greatest in the nation, but one of my goals is to be one of the top QBs in the Pac-10, if not the top QB in the conference."
Speaking of QBs, Brandon Huffman from Bruin Report Online is reporting that JC QB Darius Bell could make it official for UCLA by the end of this week. We will have to wait to see if the official paperwork comes to fruition. While many are excited about the prospect of Darius Bell (already discussed at length on BN), we should temper our expectations. I believe the most ideal situation would be for Bell to emerge as a possible backup, allowing Richard Brehaut to red-shirt this upcoming season. However, it's a tall order to expect any JC QB to just come in an rocket up the depth chart bypassing QB who have already had almost 2 years under Norm Chow. Regardless it's still an intriguing development.
Staying with football, Kai Maiava, who started all 12 regular-season games for the Bruins in 2009, was named to the 2010 Rimington Trophy Watch List. The trophy is awarded annually to the nation's top center based on four key All-America teams. Good luck to Kai. Hopefully he is healthy when he comes back to camp later this summer and has also fit in terms of satisfying all his requirements in the classroom.
Lastly, here is a video highlight from this past weekend's True Blue Celebration:
Kudos to Morgan Center for putting it together.