Taking a major-league mound for the first time, Gerrit Cole wasted no time filling his highlight quota.
Two years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates took Cole first overall out of UCLA, where he struck out 346 batters over three seasons. On Tuesday, he did the same against Gregor Blanco, punching out the the San Francisco Giants leadoff man on three pitches.
Cole also connected for a two-RBI single on his very first at at-bat, giving the Pirates their first two runs in an 8-2 win. He easily outdueled former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum for the victory, finishing with two strikeouts, no walks, two earned runs and seven hits through 6 1/3 innings.
While his overreliance on his fastball could be a concern going forward, the 22-year-old is a potential star on a club chasing its first winning season since 1992.
“He was impressive,” said UCLA coach John Savage, who watched the game with his team after practice. “I thought he filled up the strike zone. He didn’t get ahead of himself. I think you saw a potential No. 1 starter growing up, maturing. I contribute that to going to college, what he went through here, being a Friday night guy for three years. I think he’s just grown up too.”
John Savage sat in front of the press late Saturday night and insisted that Cal State Fullerton, the team whose season he’d just ended, was still the best in the country.
“People may not believe me,” the UCLA coach allowed.
Savage had paid the Titans the same compliment before sweeping them in two games — putting the Bruins in the College World Series for the third time in four years. CSUF had entered the weekend with a top-five ERA, top-25 fielding percentage and top-50 home run total. It had lost back-to-back games only once all season, and never dropped a series.
Since the Super Regional format was added in 1999, no team has reached the College World Series more times than Fullerton’s seven. Now the Titans have missed four straight, their longest drought since they first went to Omaha in 1975.
In that same timeframe, only 14 teams had reached Omaha in back-to-back seasons. With 5-3 and 3-0 wins, UCLA became the 15th. Continue reading →
FULLERTON — For the first time in school history, UCLA has punched back-to-back trips to Omaha.
With a 3-0 win over Super Regional host Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, the Bruins are headed to the College World Series for the third time in four years. Coach John Savage — who over nine years became the architect of a national power — earned his 27th postseason victory, setting a new UCLA record.
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).
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 →
On June 6, 1983, John Savage graduated from Reno High and became the New York Yankees’ sixth-round draft pick. On June 6, 1986, after a collegiate career at Santa Clara, he was plucked out of the 16th round by the Cincinnati Reds. On June 6, 1992, he was married at Our Lady of the Snows, a red-bricked Reno church that hosted a crowd of about 400 — an unintended coincidence, he insists with a laugh.
But it wasn’t until six years later that Savage, now nearing a decade as UCLA’s head baseball coach, noticed the odd chronology. Then in his second season as USC’s pitching coach, he found himself in Omaha celebrating a national championship. June 6, 1998.
“That’s when it became apparent that day was special to me,” he says.
As June 6 rolls by again, another national championship is perhaps the only hole left on his stellar resume — the bulk of which he’s built in Westwood. Continue reading →
Rancho Bernardo’s Gosuke Katoh was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round yesterday, 66th overall. An All-American second baseman, he doesn’t carry a big bat but is lauded for his defensive skills.
From what he told the Pomerado News, it’s unlikely that he’ll end up in blue and gold:
“I was sitting on the couch waiting around and I wasn’t expecting my name to be called, but then my advisor gave me a quick call and told me I was going to get picked in two picks and it was the Yankees,” Katoh said of the moment leading up to his selection. “I couldn’t talk for a minute because I was really shocked and I didn’t believe him at first. I then put the phone down and looked up at the TV and they said ‘with the 66th pick, the Yankees select Gosuke Katoh’ and I couldn’t believe it.”
Katoh, who signed a scholarship to UCLA earlier this year, seems to have his heart set on joining the Yankees instead of the Bruins. The signing bonus where Katoh was taken is usually around $780,000.
“If everything works out like it should with no road bumps, then I should be a Yankee by next week,” he said.
To reach the College World Series for the third time in four years, UCLA needs to get past Cal State Fullerton — a team Bruins coach John Savage called the best in the country. Tickets for this weekend’s best-of-three Super Regional at CSUF’s Goodwin Field went on sale this morning, and can be purchased either through UCLA’s Central Ticket Office (310-825-2101) or the Titans.
All-session tickets range from $25-32, and single-game tickets from $10-20. All games will be broadcast on ESPN2.
UCLA (42-17) at CSUF (51-8) Friday, June 7, 4 p.m.
Saturday, June 8, 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 9, 7 p.m. (if necessary)
LOS ANGELES — A few days before the postseason, UCLA coach John Savage wondered how many fans would pack Jackie Robinson Stadium for the team’s fourth straight hosted regional. Despite two trips to Omaha in the last three seasons, Bruins baseball is hardly the campus’ hottest draw.
Some extra buzz couldn’t hurt.
On Saturday evening, the noise came. The Bruins kickstarted the crowd of 1,749 with an impressive turnaround, spoiling Cal Poly’s no-hit bid with a 6-4 win. UCLA advanced to Sunday’s 6 p.m. tilt against either the Mustangs or San Diego, needing just one more win to reach a Super Regional.
The transformation was palpable. After five feeble innings — no hits, one walk, a 4-0 deficit — the Bruins battered freshman lefty Matt Imhof and sent him to the dugout. First baseman Pat Gallagher led with a drought-ending double that pumped life into the stands, sparking applause and a “Let’s go, Bruins!” chant.
The flame, however small, was lit. UCLA kept stoking it: a single and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases, a sac fly for the team’s first run.
The fire came soon. Right fielder Eric Filia singled up the middle to again put three Bruins on. Two at-bats later, Kevin Williams knocked the ball high into right field — a routine pop-up that turned into a base-clearing triple as right fielder Nick Torres lost it in the lights. Tie game. Continue reading →
LOS ANGELES — This wasn’t Adam Plutko at his sharpest.
A three-time all-conference selection, his best doesn’t include mishandling a bunt or hitting a batter on a 0-2 count. But the right-handed hurler never broke as he secured his fifth postseason win in a gutsy effort.
His solid, if unspectacular, outing Friday sufficed as he guided UCLA to a regional-opening 5-3 victory over San Diego State. The Bruins have now moved into the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament, with a 6 p.m. matchup against Cal Poly looming Saturday.
Along the way, Plutko became the school’s all-time postseason wins leader — passing former Golden Spikes winner and No. 3 draft pick Trevor Bauer. Continue reading →