UCLA assistant TJ Bruce leaves to coach Nevada baseball

UCLA baseball assistant TJ Bruce has taken the head job at Nevada, becoming the latest member of John Savage’s growing coaching tree.

Bruce, who turned 33 in March, always seemed bound for a bigger opportunity. He had served as the Bruins’ infield coach for the past five years, as well as their hitting assistant. But one of his primary duties was recruiting coordinator, where he helped the program reel in three top-10 classes.

After UCLA won its first College World Series title in 2013, I asked Bruce what he had planned as a celebration. He was set to hit the recruiting trail the next day.

“We are very excited for TJ and his opportunity at Nevada,” Savage said in a statement on Friday. “He did a very good job at UCLA and we look forward to following him in Reno.”

Nevada is where Savage got his start as a collegiate coach, working as an assistant under Gary Powers from 1992-96.

Four other former UCLA assistants who worked under Savage have become head coaches: Brian Green (New Mexico State), Jason Gill (Loyola Marymount), Steve Pearse (Reedley College) and Rick Vanderhook (Cal State Fullerton).

“It was a special time at UCLA and with Coach Savage,” Bruce said. “He has meant a great deal to me. I can’t thank him enough.”