» John Savage’s two championship teams finished with identical 49-17 records. He earned his first ring as a USC pitching coach in 1998, in a 21-14 victory over Arizona State that saw the teams combine for eight home runs.
“I looked at the record yesterday, and I had a good feeling we were going to end up with the same amount of wins, the same amount of losses,” Savage said after beating Mississippi State 8-0 Tuesday night, earning his first as UCLA’s head coach. “I knew the game wasn’t going to be 21-14, thank God.”
Sixty-two home runs were hit during the 1998 CWS. This year’s saw just three. His team is built as a polar opposite to those “Gorilla Ball” squads, one that squeezes in just enough offense to complement defense and pitching. The Bruins took the bumpier road and sped along untouched, downing No. 5 seed Fullerton, No. 4 seed LSU and No. 1 seed UNC through the postseason.
“I don’t think any of the experts thought we would be here at this stage, and we did it the right way,” Savage said. “We played baseball.”
» UCLA’s pitchers combined for a 0.80 ERA in the College World Series, the lowest mark in the aluminum bat era (since 1974). The Bruins were also the first team to ever run through Omaha without allowing more than one run in any game.
The superlative defense, marked by the play of all-tournament shortstop Pat Valaika, helped hold opponents to 1-27 with runners in scoring position.
» Nick Vander Tuig earned his 14th win of the season to tie the second-best mark in UCLA history (Mike Magnante, 1988). His 27 career wins combined with and Adam Plutko’s 29 for the most ever by two UCLA teammates, putting some statistical proof behind a duo that Savage argued was among the country’s most underrated. The previous mark of 55 was set by Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole from 2009-11.
» Praised weeks ago by San Diego coach Rich Hill as one of the best in college baseball history, the bullpen backed up its reputation. UCLA finished 41-0 when leading after seven innings.
Closer David Berg tied the NCAA single-season record with his 51st appearance of the season. (Connor Falkenbach, Florida, 2005). He became the all-time single-season leader on Monday with his 24th save.
» All season long, UCLA has stressed preparation and consistency. With the trophy on the podium with him, right fielder Eric Filia, who had seven RBI in two games against Mississippi State, said that even trickled down to cleaning the bus.
Added Berg: “You all laughed, but we take that as seriously as anything else we did.”
» UCLA is the third straight team to make an undefeated postseason run. Since the Super Regional began in 1999, South Carolina (2011) and Arizona (2012) are the only other teams to do the same. The Pac-12 has back-to-back championships for the first time since Oregon State’s titles in 2006 and 2007, and leads all conferences with 17 combined titles.