UCLA dominates Bulldogs, wins first-ever baseball title

OMAHA, Neb. — John Savage and his UCLA team have a few well-worn phrases.

Among them: execution, pass the baton, Bruin baseball. After three trips to Omaha in four years, they can add “championship” to the vocabulary.

There is utility in cliche. UCLA raised its first-ever national championship trophy Tuesday night after an 8-0 win over Mississippi State, embodying all those phrases on a run marked by stunning consistency.

In all five of their victories at TD Ameritrade Park, the Bruins (49-17) allowed no more than a single run. Along they way, they laid down 12 bunts, tying a CWS record set by Santa Clara in 1962. It was small ball at its finest, the prize at the end perhaps silencing protests that UCLA had lucked its way to wins.

“Anybody that questions us now, I don’t think knows the game,” Savage said.

As usual, the Bruins jumped on mistakes. Just two at-bats into the game, Mississippi State (51-20) notched two errors on one play: the first when pitcher Luis Pollorena misplayed Kevin Kramer’s bunt, and the second when first baseman Wes Rea couldn’t hold on to the ensuing throw.

Only two of UCLA’s postseason opponents avoided making at least one error.

Leadoff hitter Brian Carroll, who had reached first base when plunked by Pollorena’s fourth pitch, ran to third as the ball bounced off Rea’s glove.

Right fielder Eric Filia then sent an RBI single into the right field corner, giving the Bruins’ a 1-0 lead it never lost.

In a College World Series that drew frequent complaints its lack of power hitting, Filia shined as his team’s hottest bat. He finished the game with five RBI, bringing his postseason total to 11. A major reason for the Bruins’ run, 20 of his 33 RBI on the season came after the start of May.

UCLA sprinkled seven more runs through the rest of the game, forcing the Bulldogs to use All-SEC closer Jonathan Holder in the fourth inning. The final eight-run tally was the team’s highest since mid-May.

“We stayed small, barrelled balls up,” Filia said.

The team was again steady on the mound. Starter Nick Vander Tuig opened the game with two strikeouts — 89 and 91 miles per hour — and wavered little from there, tossing two perfect innings. The San Francisco Giants’ sixth-round draft pick shut out the Bulldogs through eight, striking out six as he walked just one batter.

He worked his curveball with great command, and threw strikes on 77 of his 117 pitches.

It was a run-of-the-mill showing for the junior righty, who earned his 14th victory of the season to lead the Bruins’ staff. In his previous outing against North Carolina State, he retired 13 of 14 batters in a sterling start that stretched into the eighth.

“I’m really at a loss for words,” he said after the game. “What was the question?”

Even before UCLA finished its last at-bat in the bottom of the eighth, all 27,127 in the stands — a new stadium record — knew the game was over. As if to signal that ending, three blonde women ran into the outfield, drawing light applause from the stands and the dugout.

By the time closer David Berg took the mound in the ninth, a win was almost a formality. He used just 11 pitches to close the game.

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  • samollie

    congrats boys…what a run.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    Congratulations to the Bruins baseball team!! Great job all around starting with Coach Savage.

  • huitzilopochtli

    It was not a save situation…

    • Jack Wang

      Fixed. Sorry, got hasty. Stupid mistake.

  • inhonorofpooh

    To say “There is utility in cliche” is to diminish the UCLA dominance of this CWS. Cliche is a pejorative term. UCLA played by the rules, unlike suc when they paid bush to play for them, and they won a championship only to be vacated later. If you cheat to win, you’ve already lost. I strongly object to the ESPN announcers trying to say the stadium is too much a pitcher’s park and needs to have the fences shortened. UCLA played within the rules and won. Don’t diminish their dominant NC, Jack. John Wooden’s father Joshua provided John with two sets of threes – never lie never cheat never steal. Don’t whine don’t complain don’t make excuses. It would behoove all of us to aspire to these.

    • Joe Blow

      WE DID IT. And didn’t have to use Sam Gilbert type players the way Woodie did in BB. Gooooo Bruins!

    • Jack Wang

      Was trying to say they backed up all the consistency talk that usually remains cliche for many teams. Could have chosen my words better, but wasn’t trying to denigrate.

  • Marc

    Amazing post season run and fantastic team championship!

    Championship # 109. Incredible!

  • Joe Blow

    WE DID IT!

    • maze949

      Aww…the drunk, unemployed condom wants to fit in.

      • Joe Blow

        Goooooooooooooo Bruins!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • old_gazzelle

    Yeah, 109! Congrats!