Behind a stellar pitching performance from Nick Vander Tuig, who went eight shutout innings, and the five RBI-performance from right fielder Eric Filia, UCLA had its most explosive game of the playoffs in its most important match-up. Criticized in some circles for a lack of offense throughout the playoffs, UCLA responded with 12 hits and eight runs to crush the Bulldogs and ensure a championship.
Given the way UCLA has pitched thus far in the College World Series, though, the outcome wasn't in doubt past the bottom of the first inning, when the Bruins scored their first run. In five games, UCLA allowed just four runs, with no team scoring more than one on the Bruins.
The victory gives UCLA its first national championship in baseball, and its 109th overall team championship, the most in the country. The baseball program had been mired in a period of relative mediocrity until the hiring of John Savage, who had had some success at UC Irvine prior to his time in Westwood. In short order, Savage has been able to turn UCLA into a perennial playoff contender, and over the last four years, Savage has made three trips to the College World Series, including another Finals appearance in 2010, when the Bruins lost to South Carolina.
It appears, also, that UCLA has discovered a formula for success in Omaha, using an offense designed to manufacture runs via small ball and a pitching strategy designed to use the cavernous confines of TD Ameritrade Park to the Bruins' advantage. It certainly worked this time around, as UCLA's pitching carried it all the way to the final game, when the offense finally got going.
UCLA beat LSU, North Carolina, and North Carolina State to earn the trip to the final series against the Bulldogs. Last night, the Bruins beat the Bulldogs in their customary fashion, with a 3-1 victory led by a gutty performance from Adam Plutko, who didn't have his best stuff but still gave up just one run in six innings.
-- With the baseball national championship, UCLA wins the Capital One Cup, which goes to the best men's athletic program in the country.
-- UCLA will hold a celebration for the returning baseball team Thursday at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Gates will open at 12:30 PM, and the event will begin at 2 PM. The event is free of charge and open to the public.