June 25, 2013
OMAHA, Neb. - The UCLA baseball team won its first-ever National title on Tuesday night with an 8-0 victory over Mississippi State in the second game of the College World Series. It was the Bruins' nation-leading 109th NCAA championship.
"We worked extremely hard all season and they believed in each other and that's what great teams do," UCLA head coach John Savage said. "We have to congratulate a great Mississippi State team. They had a great year. I just think it was one of those situations where it was our time. Nick (Vander Tuig) threw the ball great for eight innings and kept them off balance and then (David) Berg did his job."
Vander Tuig picked up the win with eight innings of scoreless work while allowing just five hits. Vander Tuig ended the season with a 14-4 record. Luis Pollorena took the loss for Mississippi State (51-20), giving up a run in one of inning of work for the Bulldogs.
"This whole team is so close and I can't really explain how happy I am," Vander Tuig said. "Our defense has been great all year and our pitching staff has a lot of heart. We have each other's back. I can't be more proud of this team. I'm going to miss them."
UCLA spotted Vander Tuig an early lead in the bottom of the first, starting when junior Brian Carroll got hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. The Bruins again took advantage of their opponents' mistakes, as on the next at-bat sophomore Kevin Kramer laid down a bunt, attempting to sacrifice Carroll over to second. Pollorena mishandled the ball on the mound before hurrying the throw to first. Bulldog first baseman Wes Rea then dropped the ball, allowing Kramer to reach base and Carroll to move to third. Sophomore Eric Filia then stepped in and hit a sacrifice fly to right, bringing home Carroll to make it 1-0 Bruins.
"I thrive for this," said Filia, who drove in seven of the Bruins' 11 runs in the CWS. "We just stayed with our approach and stayed small. They have great pitching. Mississippi State has one of the best bullpens and starting pitchers out here. We just kept battling and came out with the win."
Vander Tuig kept the Bulldogs off the board in the early going, retiring 10 of the first 11 batters he faced through three innings. Then in the bottom of the third, the Bruins tacked on two more off of Mississippi State reliever Ross Mitchell. Carroll walked with one out and then moved over to third when Kramer singled through the right side. Filia once again came to the plate with a man in scoring position, and this time brought him home with a perfectly executed safety squeeze, giving UCLA a two-run lead. In the next at-bat, junior Pat Valaika smacked a single down the right field line, scoring Kramer to bring the lead up to three.
Mississippi State looked to cut into the lead in the top of the fourth, getting runners on first and second with one out via a single and an error by Pat Gallagher. As has been the case for UCLA all postseason though, the starting pitching worked out of it, as Vander Tuig got Rea and C.T. Bradford to fly out to left to hold the Bulldogs scoreless.
UCLA continued to put runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth, scoring two to give themselves a 5-0 lead. Williams led off the inning with a hit by pitch, moving over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Shane Zeile. Senior Cody Regis then came to the plate to face Ben Bracewell and singled home Williams to give the Bruins a four-run advantage. Junior Brenton Allen doubled in the next at-bat to put runners at second and third before Carroll got hit by his second pitch of the game to load the bases for Kramer. Kramer put together another quality at-bat for the Bruins, fouling off three two-strike pitches before coming through a sacrifice fly to center to score Regis, making it 5-0 in favor of UCLA.
Filia added another run for the Bruins in the bottom of the sixth, knocking in Regis with a two-out single up the middle to increase UCLA's lead to six.
The Bruins added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to make it 8-0. Freshmen Christoph Bono singled to center field with one out. Then Carroll singled to left field, advancing Bono to second. Kramer made it three straight singles to load the bases for Filia. who drove in his fourth and fifth RBIs of the game with a single to right, scoring Bono and Carroll. Will Cox then came in and struck out Valaika for the second out of the inning. Junior Pat Gallagher flied out to right field to end the inning.
Berg then entered in the ninth and set the Bulldogs down in order to cap an unbelievable season for the sophomore from Covina, Calif. The final out came when Matthew Britton grounded out to Gallagher at first, who promptly tossed the ball to Berg at first to seal the title.
"This championship means everything," Savage added. "This is for all of the Bruins. All of the Bruin baseball players and all of the guys who were here before I was and set the tone. I'm just so proud of the program and our coaches and players and everybody involved. We're a family and we did it together."
The Bruins finished the season with a record of 49-17 and tied a school record with 21 wins in Pac-12 play. UCLA capped off the season on an 11-game win streak, including 10 straight in the postseason. UCLA will hold a NCAA Championship celebration for the team on Thursday, June 27 at 2 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Admission and parking to the event is free.
Game Notes: Junior Adam Plutko was named the College World Series' Most Outstanding Player...Pat Valaika, Nick Vander Tuig and Eric Filia were also named to the All-CWS team along with Plutko...Nick Vander Tuig won his 14th game of the season tonight, tied for the second-most single-season wins by a UCLA pitcher all-time (Mike Magnante, 1988)...Nick Vander Tuig (27) and Adam Plutko (29) have combined for the most pitching wins by two teammates in UCLA history with 56 wins, breaking the previous record of 55 held by Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole from 2009-11...David Berg tied the NCAA single-season record for most appearances in one season with his 51st appearance tonight (Connor Falkenbach - Florida, 2005)...UCLA went 19-2 on the season when scoring in the first inning...UCLA's opponents went just 1-27 with runners in scoring position in the College World Series....the Bruins went a perfect 41-0 when leading after seven innings this year...UCLA's 12 sacrifices in the CWS finished tied for the most in CWS history (Santa Clara, 1962)...UCLA had the lowest ERA in the aluminum bat era of the College World Series at 0.80...the Bruins outscored their opponents 44-14 in the postseason...UCLA became just the third team to finish 10-0 in the postseason (2011 South Carolina, 2012 Arizona)...UCLA was the first team to go through the College World Series without allowing more than one run in every game.