CHAMPIONSHIP POSTGAME: UCLA
Head Coach John Savage
Head Coach John Savage
Scout.com
Posted Jun 25, 2013


OMAHA, Neb.-- Bruins cruised past Mississippi State, 8-0, Tuesday night to sweep the Men's College World Series finals and the program's first national title. We hear from head coach John Savage and his guys..


COACH JOHN SAVAGE: Well, first off, like I said, I want to congratulate Mississippi State for a great season. Whenever you play for a national championship and you lose, we've been there, pretty empty feeling, and it shouldn't be, but it is. You know, I want to congratulate Coach Cohen and his state of for a great season. So proud of our program, players, coaches. This is for the UCLA baseball family, Coach Adams, Coach Reichle, Dan Guerrero, all the people that have been meaningful to this program for many, many years, certainly before I got there, and it's an honor and a privilege to be the coach at UCLA and I'm just so proud of these guys.

They did it on the field. I don't think any of the experts thought we would be here at this stage, and we did it the right way. We played baseball.

We played good baseball. We pitched. We defended. We had quality offense, opportunistic offense for sure, and at the end of the day I think we outlasted everybody. So congratulations to our players, their families and everybody associated with UCLA baseball. Thank you.

Q. Coach, you probably went through the toughest complement of teams I've ever seen in my life from Fullerton all the way through. Could you comment on that? You didn't have a weak sister in the bunch.

COACH SAVAGE: I think that's why you can call us champions. It was a tough road. We had a difficult Pac-12 conference, we finished third behind Oregon and Oregon State, two very good teams. We had a very difficult regional with Cal Poly, San Diego and San Diego State. Then we went to Fullerton, who I thought was the best team in the country and to our credit we played 'em and we played 'em tough.

We came out of that with two wins. So I think that was an indicator. I think a lot of people saw that and knew how difficult that was and there was, I think, telling signs that this team was going to be pretty tough to beat. To make the run we did, I think it's one of the best runs clearly in the history of UCLA baseball and, really, for a single season on the west coast.

Q. Nick, it's kind of a lot like what you did all season long. Didn't seem like you did anything different, but you pitched in so many big games over the course of your career. Do you feel like all that experience helped prepare you for this moment?

NICK VANDER TUIG: Yeah, I think all the experience I have had throughout my three years in college have really helped me. I think how many wins this program has had and the opportunities we have had, I think that's really what has gotten me to where I am.

Just trying to keep things simple and not trying to think this is a big game, every game is just like every other game, just have to be myself and make pitch and execute.

Q. Coach, I heard you quoted that nobody on your team doesn't play good defense, but I would think you don't have anyone on your team either that doesn't execute situational hitting, whether it be the sac bunt or the sac fly. Could you tell us how you develop that and maybe give us examples of how you bring that out in your team? And Eric if you could speak for yourself because you also did that today and got come RBI hits.

COACH SAVAGE: Practice, we call ours a good practice team. For us to play good in the games you have to do it in practice, and you have to do it in front of the coaches. We work hard, conditioning, weights, practice, we got better, we got better in this tournament. That was one of our goals was to get better, you know, with our time off. We had practices. We made the most of Saturday and Sunday, and I can't say enough about the guys to my right because they've earned it and people didn't believe in them. People didn't think they were the best team and I don't know any reason why you couldn't think that. We lost 17 games, but we won 49.

Coach Peters, Coach Bruce, Coach Silverman, it was a team effort. We had a few stars, but Adam, Nick, Pat in my mind are some of the best players ever to play at UCLA and they proved it on the field.

Hard work, to answer your question, and practice.

ERIC FILIA: Coach said it, practice, we have been trying to do it all year, executing and stuff like that. Really it's preparation, and I mean, 1 through 9 we could all execute. And like Coach said we just practiced it from day one until today. In batting cages and BP, I mean, it's just really details, a lot of details that we pay attention to. When we don't get that 5 out of 7 in the first round by executing, we do it again. It's just the details that matter at the end. It showed tonight.

Q. David, you said last night the saves record meant nothing to you until after you won it all. Talk about that now?

DAVID BERG: It was true. I really -- our goal this season was to win the national championship, wasn't for me to go out and set a record for saves.

Just pretty special, I think it was a key role in winning this deal and the guy I took it from is Jack Krawczyk. I wouldn't be here without great pitching that goes in front of me, the starting pitchers, the guys who set me up. They keep the game close and the defense behind me, that keeps the runs under control. We play a lot of tight games. We aren't explosive offensively but we win a lot of games because we do execute. It's in my name but it's a team deal because I wouldn't be here without the guys to my left.

Q. Coach, when you look at this team, talk about how many outstanding role players this team seems to have and specifically Cody, he was on the team a few years ago, much happier now, but talk about how big he was in this game today.

COACH SAVAGE: We're very proud of Cody. He is our only true senior, we have a couple of red shirt juniors. Cody was devastated, wasn't drafted his junior year, his senior year, and he's had a great career, been to Omaha three times, most in the history of the school, played in the most playoff games. Now he's won a national championship, the first in school history.

Just goes to show you that, you know, guys that sometimes stay in school get rewarded. Everybody wants to sign and sign and sign and, you know, I think it's a great story. A lot of stories up here. David Berg was a walk-on. Nick had Tommy Johns his senior year. Eric was the all-time hit leader in South Orange County. And then you had Cody, a four-year player at UCLA.

So we have roles, they embrace their roles and what can you say? They're the best team playin'.

Q. For any of the players, or for all the players you guys said it was a goal to win a national championship. When did it become a realistic goal? At what point during the season did you say this is a reality? Was it in the tournament or did it come along the way?

NICK VANDER TUIG: Before the season started I remember we went to -- we had weight lifting the very first day and we went to the national championship. We were in the weight room and he saw all the national championship and went to baseball and there was none and I remember Coach was saying, "We gotta get our name on that board." So I think we worked hard from day one.

As far as a turning point, where we really believed, I don't know if you can say anything about that. We have worked hard all year, weight lifting, practice, conditioning, everything. We're a detailed team and I think that's why we're standing up here.

CODY REGIS: We believed we were the best team in the country from the get-go, the fall practices, 6 a.m. weights, conditioning after practice. We had that mind-set we weren't going to stop until July 1st. That's what Coach always said, "Season ends July 1st when the tournament is over." And I think we are here because we believed throughout the process of thing.

ERIC FILIA: Our core of captains told the young guys and everybody that we had a chance of succeeding this whole year. They led by example in the weight room and at practice and we really just, the whole team paid attention to details. By cleaning the bus, I mean, those little things matter, absolutely. Preparation really just played a huge role in this and when it became a reality was today. I mean, after we got the third out. But we just tried to keep getting better and better each and every day and we took today as just trying to win pitches since the first pitch of the game.

DAVID BERG: You know, I think that if you ask any of these guys they would remember this meeting I'm talking about, when we all sat in the locker room and looked at each other at one point in April, the Oregon State series, maybe, I don't remember the exact game, but it was in April and we had gone through a little bit of a rough patch. The bats weren't goin' and it felt like, hey, we're not achieving what we could, and we weren't sure we were putting our all into everything we did. So we sat in that meeting and looked each other in the eyes and made that commitment to each other that, hey, we have a chance to do something special here.

You look around the room, there is tons of talent, hard-working guys, intelligent guys who know how to get it done, and our captains just got us together and told us if we didn't turn it around now we could let a great opportunity get away.

So after that meeting, you could really just see kind of a spark where every single detail we really put 100% into everything we did. We played attention to the smallest of things. Eric said cleaning the bus and y'all laughed but we take that as seriously as anything else we did. When you don't pick each other up and make sure you are covering every detail, that's when you can get by the. That's what made our team great. We cover the details. I think it was that meeting that was the turning point.

Even though it wasn't actually when we believed they were good enough to do it. We knew we were good enough to do it the whole time, but it was at that point when we turned it around and that's what got us here today.

Q. Coach, three years ago when you were here I asked you about your influences from Coach Wooden and Gary Adams and I forgot to ask about Mike Gillespie. Did you hear from him in the last few days? What has his influence been on you?

COACH SAVAGE: I can't say enough about what Coach Gillespie has done for me and my family. He's the reason why I'm here. He hired me. I was working for Coach Powers at the University of Nevada and we had good teams and Mike hired me in 1997 and it changed my entire life, my family's life, my wife, Lisa, my kids, we all moved to Los Angeles; and, you know, I just can't thank Mike enough for what he did.

We won a national championship in 1998, fifteen years ago. We were 49-17. 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. I knew the game wasn't going to be 21-14, thank God (Laughter).

But at the same time, I just owe my entire career to Coach Gillespie. He meant everything to me, as my family does.

They sacrifice so much, Lisa and the kids. I just, you know, it's a family bin, it's a family affair and we move forward.

(Courtesy of the NCAA)

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For more, visit BruinReportOnline.com



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