» John Savage’s two championship teams finished with identical 49-17 records. He earned his first ring as a USC pitching coach in 1998, in a 21-14 victory over Arizona State that saw the teams combine for eight home runs.
“I looked at the record yesterday, and I had a good feeling we were going to end up with the same amount of wins, the same amount of losses,” Savage said after beating Mississippi State 8-0 Tuesday night, earning his first as UCLA’s head coach. “I knew the game wasn’t going to be 21-14, thank God.”
Sixty-two home runs were hit during the 1998 CWS. This year’s saw just three. His team is built as a polar opposite to those “Gorilla Ball” squads, one that squeezes in just enough offense to complement defense and pitching. The Bruins took the bumpier road and sped along untouched, downing No. 5 seed Fullerton, No. 4 seed LSU and No. 1 seed UNC through the postseason.
“I don’t think any of the experts thought we would be here at this stage, and we did it the right way,” Savage said. “We played baseball.”
» UCLA’s pitchers combined for a 0.80 ERA in the College World Series, the lowest mark in the aluminum bat era (since 1974). The Bruins were also the first team to ever run through Omaha without allowing more than one run in any game.
Catcher: Brian Holberton, North Carolina First base: Wes Rea, Mississippi State Second base: Brett Pirtle, Mississippi State Third base: Colin Moran, North Carolina Shortstop: Pat Valaika, UCLA Outfield: Michael Conforto, Oregon State Outfield: Eric Filia, UCLA Outfield: Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi State DH: Trey Porter, Mississippi State Pitcher: Adam Plutko, UCLA Pitcher: Nick Vander Tuig, UCLA
Most Outstanding Player: Adam Plutko UCLA
Votes were cast by the present media. Ballots were filed by the eighth inning of the final game.
OMAHA, Neb. — Before the season started, the UCLA baseball team walked into one of the national championship rooms on campus and gazed up and down the walls: 108 NCAA titles, but none credited to them.
That changed Tuesday night, the Bruins capping a perfect run through the postseason with an 8-0 stomping of Mississippi State. There had been grumbles all week long about UCLA’s lack of hitting, myriad suggestions that the walls needed to move in or the bats fixed or the balls changed.
No more. The Bruins owned the night, one closed with a dogpile as fireworks lit up behind the left field bleachers. Players eight-clapped to the adoring fans that had traveled to Omaha for them, mugging for pictures as they stretched the celebrations out as long as possible.
OMAHA, Neb. — John Savage and his UCLA team have a few well-worn phrases.
Among them: execution, pass the baton, Bruin baseball. After three trips to Omaha in four years, they can add “championship” to the vocabulary.
There is utility in cliche. UCLA raised its first-ever national championship trophy Tuesday night after an 8-0 win over Mississippi State, embodying all those phrases on a run marked by stunning consistency.
In all five of their victories at TD Ameritrade Park, the Bruins (49-17) allowed no more than a single run. Along they way, they laid down 12 bunts, tying a CWS record set by Santa Clara in 1962. It was small ball at its finest, the prize at the end perhaps silencing protests that UCLA had lucked its way to wins.
Over the past few weeks, watching UCLA baseball has produced a sense of near-inevitability.
The Bruins’ stellar pitching will keep any game close. They’ll rarely make mistakes. And more often than not, they’ll do just enough to win.
The size of the stage hasn’t changed that. Through two games in the College World Series, they are batting 2-for-27 with runners on base. They have notched one RBI in Omaha. Yet they have scored four runs, beating both LSU and North Carolina State, 2-1.
One more, and they’ll be back in a best-of-three championship series for the second time in four years.