John Savage wins 400th game as UCLA baseball coach

Arguably the most successful baseball coach in UCLA history, John Savage has reached a new milestone: 400 wins.

The 12th-year head coach earned that victory in dramatic fashion on Sunday night, as the No. 14 Bruins (6-5) pushed past USC, 5-3, in a 14-inning thriller. Senior outfielder Christoph Bono batted in UCLA’s go-ahead runs with a bases-loaded chopper in the top of the final frame at Dodger Stadium.

Savage now has a 27-14 record against the Trojans, more wins than he has against any other opponent. The two teams will meet again on May 13 to start a three-game series at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The 51-year-old now is the fourth active Pac-12 coach to hit the 400-win threshold, joining Stanford’s Mark Marquess, Oregon State’s Pat Casey, and Cal’s David Esquer — and is the only one except Marquess to do it in fewer than 12 full seasons.

He remains the Bruins’ third-winningest coach behind Gary Adams (985) and Art Reichle (747), but holds a higher winning percentage (.592) and brought back the program’s only national title in 2013. Savage is under contract through 2025.

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Is UCLA baseball ready to make a run after 2015’s sudden ending?

Outfielder Eric Filia (4) was a crucial part of UCLA's national title run in 2013, but missed the last two seasons due to injury and an academic suspension. (Ted Kirk/Associated Press)

Outfielder Eric Filia (4) was a crucial part of UCLA’s national title run in 2013, but missed the last two seasons due to injury and an academic suspension. As a senior, he is expected to be the Bruins’ biggest bat. (Ted Kirk/Associated Press)

The UCLA baseball team clinched the No. 1 overall seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, but sputtered out against Maryland in the regional round. Heading into John Savage’s 12th season, are the Bruins ready to make a deeper run despite the departures of several stars?

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UCLA spring camp notes: Steve Manfro to undergo knee procedure

» A few injury notes out of Thursday … Cornerback Ishmael Adams left the field yesterday looking like he’d slightly sprained his ankle, and spent today’s practice on the exercise bike.

Senior running back Steve Manfro is heading back to Westwood to get checked out after being bothered by both his shoulder and his knee. He had surgery on the latter after tearing his ACL in September, and will very likely have a minor procedure to shave off part of the meniscus. He’ll probably be sidelined through San Bernardino, but it’s not considered a serious setback.

» Josh Rosen had all the first-team reps today, and it turned out to be one of his roughest practices as a Bruin. He looked like he was forcing some deep balls in a way he didn’t do too much in spring, throwing one interception and a few others that were nearly picked off.

If he does win the starting job, there’ll definitely be at least one game where mistakes like that snowball; UCLA can only hope that that comes early in the season.

“I think he’s pushing to get better and he has a good grasp of the day,” head coach Jim Mora said. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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UCLA pitchers David Berg, Cody Poteet drafted by Cubs, Marlins

UCLA closer David Berg delivers against Mississippi State in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the College World Series on June 24, 2013. Berg earned his 24th save, setting a new NCAA single-season record. (Nati Harnik/AP)

UCLA closer David Berg delivers against Mississippi State in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the College World Series on June 24, 2013. Berg earned his 24th save, setting a new NCAA single-season record. (Nati Harnik/AP)

A day after James Kaprielian became a first-round pick, two more UCLA pitchers were selected in the 2015 MLB Draft.

Relievers Cody Poteet and David Berg were drafted in the fourth and sixth round, respectively, joining the Miami Marlins and the Chicago Cubs. They are the latest professional products out of a college program that has become known for its pitching.

Berg, picked No. 173 overall by the Cubs, finished his career as arguably the best closer ever in collegiate baseball. Through four seasons as UCLA, the former walk-on set NCAA records in single-season saves (24 in 2013) and career appearances (175). He is the only Bruin to ever be named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year twice, and was this year’s NCBWA District IX Player of the Year.

Drafted in the 17th round last season, the submariner returned for his senior season and registered a 0.68 ERA, third-best nationally. Last month, he paired with Kaprielian for the first no-hitter in school history.

“David Berg will go down as the best reliever in the history of the game,” UCLA coach John Savage said on June 1, after the Bruins’ season-ending loss to Maryland in the NCAA Regional. “That’s not an overstatement.” Continue reading

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