Notes: UCLA sets numerous marks in title run

» 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.

The superlative defense, marked by the play of all-tournament shortstop Pat Valaika, helped hold opponents to 1-27 with runners in scoring position. Continue reading

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College World Series all-tournament team

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.

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UCLA on cusp of title after 3-1 win over Mississippi State

OMAHA, Neb. — One more to go.

After a 3-1 win over Mississippi State to open the College World Series final, the UCLA baseball team can earn its first-ever national championship with 27 more outs.

You wouldn’t know it by the celebration. The Bruins jogged toward the mound after the final groundout, exchanging a few handshakes and high fives.

“It’s one game,” coach John Savage said. “I told the team there’s not much to get excited about. … We can enjoy this one for about half an hour, 45 minutes.”

Added closer David Berg, now alone in holding the NCAA single-season saves record: “All that matters is the next one. … Gotta live in the present. Can’t worry about the past. If we win a national title, I’ll enjoy that.” Continue reading

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Three Bruins taken in Day 2 of MLB Draft

RHP Nick Vander Tuig — San Francisco Giants, 6th round, No. 192
RHP Zack Weiss — Cincinnati Reds, 6th round, No. 195
SS Pat Valaika — Colorado Rockies, 9th round, No. 259

The big surprise was the absence of Adam Plutko, a three-time all-conference pitcher who nevertheless slipped past 10 rounds. He went off the board early today, going No. 321 overall to the Cleveland Indians. If he signs, he’ll join former teammate and Golden Spikes winner Trevor Bauer.

Bruin signees Dom Nunez — a third baseman out of Elk Grove — and righty pitcher Dustin Driver were taken No. 169 overall by the Rockies and No. 221 overall by the Athletics, respectively. Steven Farinaro went to the Cardinals in the 11th round (No. 335).

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David Berg, Pat Valaika win Pac-12 honors

David Berg was officially crowned the conference’s best pitcher Wednesday afternoon, but coaches likely kicked themselves sore long before then.

Lightly recruited out of Bishop Amat High, the sidewinder came out of nowhere a year ago to lead the league in ERA (1.46) and set a record for appearances (50). As a sophomore, he became Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year with an even more dominant effort, one that has seen him collect a school-record 18 saves.

A quick run down of some other impressive numbers: a 0.70 ERA, best in the country; 0.78 WHIP, second in the country; 64 innings pitched, only 6.2 behind midweek starter Cody Poteet.

“You can’t really have a year as a reliever than he’s had this year,” coach John Savage said. “You’re talking about innings, hits per innings, walks per nine. You’re talking about strikeouts, saves, wins. He’s done it all. He should be up for not only Pitcher of the Year, but Player of the Year.”

Berg entered the season as a setup man, the position he’ll likely play in the pros, but became the closer when freshman reliever James Kaprielian was injured early in the season. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the 6-foot righty became the third Bruin to win Pitcher of the Year — after Trevor Bauer (2011) and Pete Janicki (1992).

“We wouldn’t be where we are without him,” Savage said.

Pat Valaika also became the first Bruin to win Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, bolstering his first appearance on the all-conference team. The junior committed just five errors in 174 chances, tying the lowest mark for Pac-12 shortstops. He also leads the team in multiple hitting categories, including home runs, RBI and slugging percentage.

Pitchers Nick Vander Tuig and Adam Plutko made the All-Pac-12 team for the second and third time, respectively. Outfielder Brian Carroll and infielder Kevin Kramer earned honorable mentions.

Conference champion Oregon State took the other three major awards: sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto won Player of the Year after leading the league in OBP (.457); pitcher Andrew Moore took Freshman of the Year after notching 12 wins; Pat Casey was named Coach of the Year.

You can see the entire all-conference roster below the jump. Continue reading

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