OMAHA, Neb. — The magic started on June 1, nearly a month before UCLA found itself playing for a national title.
In the second game of the Los Angeles Regional, the Bruins faced down a four-run deficit against Cal Poly. They weathered an uneven start from sixth-round pick Nick Vander Tuig, spoiled the Mustangs’ no-hit bid and won 6-4.
The way it happened — the friendly bounces, the fly ball that swam into the lights and became a triple — only reinforced their inner faith.
“We kind of had a feeling there like, ‘Hey, this is getting going,’” sophomore closer David Berg said. “We had a bit of a refuse-to-lose attitude. That’s really when we started gaining a lot more confidence.”
It’s worked. UCLA (47-17) has made the College World Series in three of the past four years, but this latest run has been the most remarkable. No one on the roster hits above .283. For the first time since 2009, no Bruin was taken on the first day of the MLB draft.
Kenneth Walker will likely sit out UCLA’s upcoming season after undergoing back surgery, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The 5-foot-9 receiver caught 11 passes for 87 yards as a freshman last season, and also returned seven kickoffs for 138 yards. Although he showed encouraging flashes through spring practices, Walker had a tendency to drop catchable passes and wasn’t near the top of the depth chart.
The Bruins return senior Shaq Evans, mentioned in some preseason All-Pac-12 lists after leading UCLA with 877 yards in 2012. Sophomore Jordan Payton took starting reps through spring opposite Evans, while sophomore Devin Fuller has the potential to become a multi-position weapon.
Former top-five running back recruit Rushel Shell will not be transferring to UCLA.
The 6-foot, 215-pound Pitt back had announced his intent to become a Bruin after a mid-April visit to Los Angeles. After rumors circulated on Twitter over the past few days, Rivals.com reported that Shell changed his mind and was trying to return to the Panthers. According to the Los Angeles Times, he wanted to remain closer to his twin daughters.
Three-star receiver Jordan Lasley committed to UCLA Saturday evening, less than 24 hours after he first received the offer.
The 6-foot-2 wideout clocked a 4.4 40-yard dash at the Bruins’ elite camp on Friday, and is currently rated a top-100 receiver nationally by both Scout.com and Rivals.com. He confirmed the news on Twitter followingnumerousreports.
Lasley plays at Gardena’s Junipero Serra High with five-star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and four-star linebacker Dwight Williams. He also has a 3.6 GPA, so academic eligibility won’t be a problem.
Today, the Rose Bowl begins running the first formalized tour in its 90-year history. Fans will be able to walk onto the field, through the locker rooms, and learn a little bit more about one of the country’s most iconic stadiums.
General manager Darryl Dunn said the goal is to create a museum-like experience: “You go in, you have some fun, you learn a little bit. Maybe you appreciate it a little more.”
Walk-up tours cost $17.50 for adults and $14.50 for children, available at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. They will be led on Saturday and Sundays until 4th of July, when tours will increase to every Thursday through Sunday. You can find additional information at rosebowlstadium.com or 626-275-2714.
During the abbreviated version of the tour given to media this week, I found the 1922 locker room to be the most interesting part. The room itself isn’t all that special, but still gave off a certain aura simply by virtue of being very old. (The tour guide did bring up “Five-Yard Fogerty” and the invention of the high five, but the story’s origins seem dubious. Former Dodger Glenn Burke is commonly credited for the gesture.)
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