James Kaprielian, David Berg pitch the first no-hitter in UCLA history

John Savage has groomed a long line of outstanding pitchers at UCLA. None of them ever pulled off what happened on Friday night.

To start the Bruins’ last Pac-12 home series of the season, James Kaprielian and David Berg combined to pitch 10 no-hit innings in a walk-off win over Arizona. It was the first no-hitter since UCLA baseball began taking records in 1946, and the first time the Wildcats had been no-hit since 1970 — eight years before they even joined the conference.

Kaprielian, who leads the league in strikeouts, tied his season-high with 11 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. He was brilliant through nine innings, retiring 14 straight batters from the third to the seventh. Berg, arguably the greatest closer in NCAA history, closed out the 10th before Kevin Kramer plated the winning run on a walk-off sac fly.

Earlier on Friday, UCLA softball began postseason play in a very different style, opening the NCAA Regional by mercy ruling CSUN in a 9-1 win. The Bruins hit three home runs in the third, shelling Matador pitcher Zoe Conley, who had only given up six homers all season.

UCLA is shooting to return to the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2010.

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UCLA looks to bounce back from 2014’s ninth-place Pac-12 finish

UCLA closer David Berg pitches against Cal State Fullerton in the 2013 NCAA Super Regional. Berg returned for his senior season in 2015, turning down a 17th-round draft selection by the Texas Rangers. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA closer David Berg pitches against Cal State Fullerton in the 2013 NCAA Super Regional. Berg returned for his senior season in 2015, turning down a 17th-round draft selection by the Texas Rangers. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA baseball placed ninth in the Pac-12 last season, an injury-riddled down year that marked its first finish outside the conference’s top three since 2005 — head coach John Savage’s debut season.

Two years removed from their first NCAA title, the Bruins enter 2015 with a mix of experience and young talent as they set their sights on another trip to Omaha. Most notable is the pitching staff, which features Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year candidate James Kaprielian and star closer David Berg. The season starts at 6 p.m. today, with a weekend series against Hofstra.

A few notes that didn’t make the season preview, which ran in today’s paper and also touches on the potential effects of the sport’s new flat-seam ball:

— Asked if he learned anything in particular from last season’s ninth-place finish, Savage said: “Confidence is very fragile. This is a very humbling game. You’re really only as good as your last game. That’s how I look at it. Maybe when I get away and look at the big picture, it’s a little different. But you’re competitive. You don’t like taking the losses that we took last year. You want to fight. You want to compete.” Continue reading

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Three UCLA players named to All-Pac-12 baseball team

An injury-riddled UCLA baseball team just finished with its worst record in nearly a decade, but the Pac-12 still recognized some of the team’s top talent.

Three Bruins earned spots on the 32-man All-Pac-12 team, including closer David Berg, who became the fifth UCLA player to make three all-conference teams. He joins Dennis Delany (1976-78), Garrett Atkins (1998-2000), Trevor Bauer (2009-11), and Adam Plutko (2011-13).

Berg struggled with injuries this spring after making 101 appearances through his first two seasons at UCLA, but still recorded a 1.50 ERA and 11 saves through 31 outings.

Also honored on the all-conference squad were starting pitcher James Kaprielian and catcher Shane Zeile. Kaprielian was 14th in the country with 108 strikeouts, while Zeile led the team by batting .324 with 70 hits and 28 RBI.

After losing several key players before the season even started, UCLA lost 10 straight games in May and finished 25-30-1 overall and placed ninth (12-18) in the Pac-12. It was the team’s worst record since 2005, when head coach John Savage debuted with a 15-41 (4-20) campaign.

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UCLA beats Fullerton in extra-innings thriller

FULLERTON — Of course it would be him.

It wasn’t easy this time, not after he had blown his second save of the season. But David Berg, UCLA’s electrifying closer, held on through three innings and 54 pitches — helping the Bruins to a 5-3 win in extras over Cal State Fullerton.

A sellout crowd of 3,244 packed the Goodwin Field stands Friday evening for game one of the Super Regional, swaths of orange mixed with generous strokes of blue. Plenty protested the iffy calls and curiously wide strike zone, but after the last out, many murmured: That was some game.

With two outs left in the 10th and the Titans in scoring position, Berg jousted with CSUF’s J.D. Davis. After falling behind on an 0-2 count, the designated hitter fouled off pitch after pitch. Then Berg threw his 11th of the at-bat, a full-count slider that froze Davis. The murmurs: Some pitch. Continue reading

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