UCLA baseball hires LMU’s Bryant Ward as assistant coach

UCLA baseball has hired Bryant Ward away from Loyola Marymount, filling in a spot on its staff that opened a month ago.

Ward will serve as the Bruins’ assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, overseeing the infield and hitting instruction the same way T.J. Bruce did for the past five years. Bruce, a tenacious recruiter, took Nevada’s head coaching job in late June.

Ward appears to be cast out of a similar mold. At LMU, he helped pull in a top-25 recruiting class in 2011, the school’s first in 15 years — and replicated the feat two years later. The East Carolina alum also coached previously at the University of South Florida and Cal State Fullerton.

His two-year tenure with the Titans (2005-06) put him on the same staff as former UCLA assistant Rick Vanderhook, who just completed his fourth season as CSUF head coach.

“We are very excited about Bryant joining the program,” UCLA head coach John Savage said in a statement. “He is a dedicated coach who excels at teaching infielders and is an outstanding recruiter. He will bring tremendous passion and energy to the program.”

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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’s David Berg named top relief pitcher in college baseball

UCLA closer David Berg pitches against Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA Super Regionals on June 7, 2013. Berg won the first of his two NCBWA Stopper of the Year awards later that month. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA closer David Berg pitches against Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA Super Regionals on June 7, 2013. Berg won the first of his two NCBWA Stopper of the Year awards later that month. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

When UCLA’s season ended earlier this month, John Savage wanted to make something clear: David Berg was finishing his career as the greatest reliever in college baseball history.

Berg certainly has a good argument. On Saturday, he became the only two-time winner of the NCBWA’s Stopper of the Year award, given each year to the top reliever in the country. The Bruins’ star closer had also won during his team’s title run in 2013, when he set an NCAA single-season record with 24 saves.

As a senior, he was just as good, also earning him his second Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year award. He only had 13 saves — playing in fewer close games — but was second in the country with a 0.68 ERA. He allowed just one run in conference play, notching a 0.22 ERA in 22 appearances. He paired with eventual first-round pick James Kaprielian for the first no-hitter in school history.

Earlier this week, Berg was taken in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs, justifying his decision to turn down a 17th-round selection by the Texas Rangers last year and return for his senior year.

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UCLA baseball has eight players picked in 2015 MLB Draft

Four more UCLA baseball players were picked today to end the 2015 MLB Draft, making for a total of eight Bruins selected.

Outfielder Ty Moore, left-handed pitcher Grant Watson, infielder Chris Keck and reliever Tucker Forbes were each drafted, with all of but Forbes going by the end of the 18th round.

Here is the total draft haul out of UCLA this year:

RHP James Kaprielian, Jr. — First round, 16th overall, Yankees
SS Kevin Kramer, RJr. — Second round, 62nd overall, Pirates
RHP Cody Poteet, Jr. — Fourth round, 116th overall, Marlins
RHP David Berg, Sr. — Sixth round, 173rd overall, Cubs
OF Ty Moore, Jr. — 12th round, 367th overall, Pirates
LHP Grant Watson, Sr. — 16th round, 486th overall, Giants
INF Chris Keck, Sr. — 18th round, 527th overall, Rockies
RHP Tucker Forbes, RSo. — 30th round, 906th overall, Giants

A number of Bruin signees were also drafted: 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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