How have national seeds done in the NCAA baseball tournament?

Starting with tonight’s 8 p.m. first pitch against Cal State Bakersfield, UCLA baseball will begin its journey to become the first No. 1 overall seed to win a national title in more than 15 years. Ticket information can be found here, or can be purchased at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

There’s incredible parity in today’s college baseball landscape, one that can be gleaned just by looking at the recent postseason performance of national seeds. Miami was the last to win the College World Series, doing so in 1999. In the first five years of this current system, only national seeds even earned a chance to play for the title. Since then, only two more have won a championship, while eight more have finished as the runner-up.

The good news for the Bruins that they have never failed to reach the CWS, earning a spot in the final eight as the No. 2 seed in 2012, and playing in the championship series as a No. 6 seed in 2010.

Here is the list of all the national seeds that have made it to Omaha since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams. Teams that won the trophy are bolded, and second-place finishers are in italics. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: USC baseball players named in sex tape lawsuit

» Three USC baseball players, including starting pitcher Marc Huberman, have been named in a lawsuit alleging that they distributed a sex tape of an unnamed woman. The other two defendants, Vahn Bozoian and Sean Adler, are no longer on the team.

» Grantland has a feature on former UCLA soccer star Sydney Leroux, and how a gamble to leave home paid off for her career.

» Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium only seats 46,000. Should a future renovation include an expansion? Continue reading

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Marcus Moore becomes second Crespi player in UCLA’s 2016 class

In less than 24 hours, UCLA has secured a pair of commitments from Crespi High, located just 11 miles north of the Bruins’ campus.

The first domino was fullback Jalen Starks, who announced on Thursday night his decision to join UCLA’s 2016 class. On Friday morning, defensive end Marcus Moore followed suit.

This marks the first time that UCLA has received multiple commitments from Crespi since 2008, when they signed quarterback Kevin Prince and defensive back E.J. Woods. Tight end Joe Fauria also ended up in Westwood after originally signing with Notre Dame in 2008.

The last two Bruins to come out of Crespi were receiver Devin Lucien in 2011, and safety Tyler Foreman in 2013. They have since transferred to Arizona State and Portland State, respectively.

Listed at 6-foot-3, 234 pounds, Moore is rated as a three-star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. The latter also ranks him as the fifth-best defensive end in California.

Moore recorded 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a junior last fall. He also made the Los Angeles Daily News All-Area first team as an offensive lineman.

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UCLA lands commitment from three-star fullback Jalen Starks

UCLA has added its first running back to the 2016 recruiting class, securing a commitment from Encino Crespi standout Jalen Starks.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 240 pounds (!), Starks is rated a three-star fullback by Scout.com and two stars at the same position by Rivals.com. He ran for 897 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior last season.

The Bruins’ currently have a lot of depth in the backfield, but not many backs with Starks’ size. Besides fullback Nate Iese (6-3, 250), none are listed above 212 pounds.

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UCLA spring camp position reviews: Defensive backs

UCLA Bruins defensive back John Johnson (7) during a NCAA college spring football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Saturday, April 24, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

UCLA cornerback Johnny Johnson runs with the ball during the Bruins’ “Spring Showcase” at the Rose Bowl on April 24, 2015.
(Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Like UCLA’s offensive line, the secondary is a unit that has grown significantly during the Jim Mora era. Back in 2012, the Bruins were maligned for their pass defense, one that ranked eighth in the Pac-12. In the last two years, they haven’t ranked lower than fourth.

With every starter returning, there’s plenty of depth in the defensive backfield, one that has emphasized positional versatility to facilitate the use of shifting schemes and to better secure against injuries. This fall, the X-factor will be whether or not any one player makes the leap into becoming a dominant, shutdown corner.

The best candidate is likely still senior Fabian Moreau, who looked fantastic in spring and fall camp last year before a very uneven 2014 season. The former running back was burned repeatedly through the first half of his junior campaign, but eventually found more a rhythm as the year wound to a close. Position coach Demetrice Martin said in April that Moreau often appeared to be in great position for a play, then explicably stopped running all the way through. The Florida native has since made an effort to work on his ball skills and fix that habit. Continue reading

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