UCLA CWS Capsule Preview

June 16, 2013


By CB360 guest contributor Kevin Kennedy (additional content from Pete LaFleur)

Other 2013 CWS Capsules: Oregon State & Mississippi State (others being added)

UCLA Bruins
(advanced through Los Angeles Regional and Fullerton Super Regional) 

Record: 44-17
Conference: 21-9 in Pac-12 (3rd place)

Head Coach: John Savage (12th season overall, 9th at UCLA; 3rd CWS appearance)

First Game in Omaha: Sunday June 16 vs. No. 4 National Seed LSU (7 CT, ESPN2)
Series: UCLA 1-3 all-time vs. LSU 

Previous Meeting: June 5, 2010 (Los Angeles NCAA Regional), UCLA won 6-3
Click here for UCLA recap from most recent meeting vs. UCLA  

NCAA Tournament History: 19th appearance (5th CWS, also 1996, 1997 and 2010)

Team National Statistical Ranks (offensive):
• 26th in walks (264)
• 104th in stolen bases (66)
• 240th in slugging pct. (.334)
• 253rd in batting avg. (.251)
• 296th in scoring (4.8 runs per game)
• 296th in home runs (19)

Team National Statistical Ranks (pitching & defense):
• 4th in low “WHIP” (1.09 walks+hits per 9 IP)
• 6th in fielding pct. (.980)
• 9th in ERA (2.69)
• 12th in low hits per 9 inn. (7.35)
• 12th in fewest walks per 9 IP (2.49)
• 12th in K-to-walk ratio (2.79)
• 97th in strikeouts per 9 innings (7.0)
• 143rd in low opp. on-base pct. (.357)

Top-50 Players Among NCAA Stat Leaders
position players
• Brian Carroll 17th in stolen bases (30)

• Adam Plutko tied for 1st in starts (17) & 44th in WHIP (1.0 walks+hits per 9 IP)
• Nick Vander Tuig tied for 1st in starters (17), 6th in wins (12-4), 33rd in low BB per 9 (1.34) & 45th in K-to-BB ratio (4.76)
• David Berg 2nd in ERA (0.88), saves (21) & WHIP (0.80 BB+H per 9), 10th in low BB per 9 (1.01) & 23rd in low hits per 9 (6.18)
• Grant Watson 33rd in starts (16)

2013 MLB Draft Picks  (7)
RHP Nick Vander – 6th round (Giants)
RHP Zack Weiss – 6th round (Reds)
SS Pat Valaika – 9th round (Rockies)
RHP Adam Plutko – 11th round (Indians)
OF Brenton Allen – 20th round (Nationals)
IF Kevin Williams – 29th round (Mariners)
RHP Ryan Deeter – 32nd round (Brewers)

Road to Omaha – The Bruins come into this year’s CWS as the only school making the trip down the road to Omaha for the second straight year. A year ago, the Bruins came into the 2012 College World Series as the No. 2 National Seed and won its first game against Stony Brook before dropping back-to-back contests versus Arizona (the eventual NCAA champion) and Florida State. 

This year’s squad started the 2013 season 12-3, highlighted by 1 seven-game win streak (its longest of the season) entering Pac-12 play. In the first 15 games, UCLA played only two teams that made the 2013 NCAA Tournament: UC Santa Barbara (a 12-3 win) and Oklahoma (4-0 loss). The Bruins played three more non-conference games versus eventual NCAA tournament teams after conference play began, beating UCSB and losing twice to Cal State Fullerton, the team later would sweep to reach Omaha. 

In 2013 conference play, the Bruins won seven of their 10 series, losing two games out of three at Arizona State, at Stanford and at home to fellow CWS participant Oregon State. UCLA won its series vs. Oregon (No. 8 National Seed) and the Bruins ultimately finished third in the Pac-12, three games behind Oregon State.

UCLA began the 2013 NCAA Tournament at home in a regional where all four teams came from Southern California. The Bruins knocked off San Diego State 5-3 in their opening game and then came back from an early 4-0 deficit to defeat, Cal Poly 6-4. The Bruins finished the regional 3-0, after blanking San Diego 6-0.  Last weekend in the Super Regionals, UCLA swept the No. 5 national seed Fullerton, with a 5-3, 10-inning win in game 1 followed by a 3-0 series-clinching win in game 2 last Saturday. The Titans had given up only one run in their regional the previous weekend and had not lost a series all year.  

THE MISSING TROPHY –  UCLA athletics is known for the 10 Championships won by John Wooden and the men’s basketball team in the 1960s and 70s. The school also became the first program to win 100 national titles in NCAA history, reaching that milestone in 2007. UCLA also won 21 championships in sports that do not sponsor an official NCAA championship, including football in 1954. Bruins teams now have combined to place 108 NCAA title trophies in their cases, but none of those top honors have come from the baseball team. The program is the one of five teams at the school to never win it all, but baseball is the most notable (the other four: are men’s and women’s cross country, women’s swimming, and women’s soccer.

For years UCLA baseball was thought by many underachieving, sleeping giant, with only two College World Series appearances before 2010 (1969 and 1997). But in the past four years, the Bruins have made three CWS trips, including a runner-up finish in 2010.

BATS FINALLY MATCHING the ARMS – UCLA certainly didn’t earn a regional host spot because of their hitting, entering the NCAA Tournament with a .249 team batting average that is lowest in the Pac-12. In their five 2013 NCAA tournament games, the Bruins have managed to hit nearly 30 points higher (.276) than that regular season average. Though the team isn’t exactly raking it at the plate in this tournament, the offense has been able to support a very strong pitching staff – anchored by veteran ace righthander Adam Plutko – that has lived up to its impressive regular-season numbers in the NCAA. UCLA’s 2.79 regular-season ERA ranked second in the Pac-12 and 16th nationally, and the Bruins have compiled a 1.57 ERA in the 2013 NCAAs (second-best among this year’s CWS teams). 

TOP RELIEF  – UCLA closer David Berg won Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year for the 2013 season, becoming the first relief pitcher to win the award since Arizona State’s Noah Peery in 1994. Berg, recently named the national Stopper of the Year, enters the CWS tied for first in the country in ERA (0.88) and tied for second in the nation with 21 saves. His 21 saves are a UCLA season record. Berg is 7-0 and has allowed only seven earned runs all season, striking out better than one hitter per innings (73 Ks in 71.1 IP). One of Berg’s two blown saves came last weekend in game-1 of the Super Regional series at Cal State Fullerton, but he finished the game by throwing three innings and getting the win.

EXPERIENCE FACTOR – The Bruins arrived in Omaha as the most experienced 2013 CWS team and the only returnee from 2012. Among this year’s field, UCLA and North Carolina are the only schools that have made the College World Series during the past four years. This year’s CWS is the second in the past seven years where only one team returned to Omaha from the previous year (2010). One returning team is the fewest in that span. UCLA’s roster consists of 21 players ho were on the 2012 CWS team, with 12 seeing playing time last year at TD Ameritrade Park. Veteran infielder Cody Regis (a converted third baseman currently playing at second) is the only Bruin who played in both the 2010 and 2012 CWS.

• Roster Breakdown: 1 Senior, 10 Juniors, 7 Sophomores and 16 Freshmen

• Home States: California 33 and Nevada 1


Probable Lineup (* – team-leading total) 

(1) CF Brian Carroll – bats: R, 5-10/177, Jr., San Diego, CA
All Pac-12 Honorable Mention
.259 avg., 44 Runs*, 20 RBI, 0 HR, 2 Triples, 2 Doubles, .284 Slg %, 26 BB, 14 HBP*, 34 Ks, 30-37 SB*

(2) 3B Kevin Kramer – bats: L, 6-0/197, So., Turlock, CA
All Pac-12 Honorable Mention
.279 avg.,* 39 Runs, 40 RBI, 3 HR, 2 Triples, 11 Doubles, .384 Slg %, 28 BB, 14 HBP*, 44 Ks*,  9-18 SB 

(3) RF Eric Filia – bats: L, 6-0/180, So., Huntington Beach, CA
.278 avg., 40 Runs, 25 RBI, 1 HR, 1 Triple, 13 Doubles*, .357 Slg %, 31 BB, 10 HBP, 21 Ks, 8-15 SB

(4) SS Pat Valaika – bats: R, 5-11/206, Jr., Valencia, CA
Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All Pac-12
.257 avg., 32 Runs, 44 RBI*, 5 HR*, 3 Triples, 13 Doubles*, .404 Slg %, 32 BB*, 6 HBP, 38 Ks*, 8-11 SB, .980 Fielding % in 61 games
– Selected by the Colorado Rockies in 9th Round of 2013 MLB Draft
– Valakia’s two older brothers play professional baseball

(5) DH Kevin Williams – bats: L, 6-0/195, Jr., Van Nuys, CA
.232 avg., 14 Runs, 11 RBI, 1 HR, 1 Triple, 3 Doubles, .304 Slg %, 14 BB, 1 HBP, 32 Ks, 2-3 SB
– Selected by the Miami Marlins in 29th Round of 2013 MLB Draft

(6) 1B Pat Gallagher – bats: L, 6-2/224, Jr., Reno, NV
.277 avg., 19 Runs, 20 RBI, 1 HR, 0 Triples, 7 Doubles, .342 Slg %, 20 BB, 7 HBP, 38 Ks, 0-1 SB

(7) C Shane Zeile – bats: R, 6-1/188, So., Valencia, CA
.242 avg., 22 Runs, 20 RBI, 2 HR, 0 Triples, 9 Doubles, .324 Slg %, 22 BB, 8 HBP, 34 Ks, 2-5 SB
– Uncle Todd Zeile played at UCLA from 1984-86 and in the majors for 15 seasons

(8) 2B Cody Regis – bats: L, 6-2/235, Sr., Glendora, CA (converted from 3B, due to teammate’s injury)
.232 avg., 16 Runs, 18 RBI, 0 HR, 0 Triples, 8 Doubles, .284 Slg %, 26 BB, 1 HBP, 34 Ks, 1-7 SB

(9) LF Brenton Allen – bats: L, 6-1/225, Jr., Cerritos, CA
.247 avg., 14 Runs, 13 RBI, 2 HR, 1 Triple, 2 Doubles, .351 Slg %, 12 BB, 2 HBP, 34 Ks, 1-2 SB
– Selected by Washington Nationals in 20th Round of 2013 MLB Draft
– Brother Tony Fisher played football at Notre Dame and went on to play in the NFL for five seasons.

Starting Rotation (* – team-leading total)

1. RHP Adam Plutko – 6-3/192, Jr., Glendora, CA
First Team All Pac-12
8-3, 17 appearances, 17 starts*, 2.35 ERA, 111 IP, 77 Ks, 27 BB, .212 Opp Avg., 84 Hits
– Winning pitcher in UCLA’s 2012 opener at the CWS (vs. Stony Brook)
– Selected by Cleveland Indians in 11th Round of 2013 MLB Draft

2. RHP Nick Vander Tuig- 6-3/195 lbs, Jr., Oakdale, CA
First Team All Pac-12
12-4, 17 appearances, 17 starts*, 2.37 ERA, 114 IP*, 81 Ks*, 17 BB, .237 Opp Avg., 99 Hits
 – Losing pitcher in 2012 CWS vs. Arizona (Bruins second game)
– Selected by San Francisco Giants in 6th Round of 2013 MLB Draft

3. LHP Grant Watson – 6-0/185, So., Bakersfield, CA
8-3, 17 appearances, 16 starts, 3.22 ERA, 86.2 IP, 52 Ks, 15 BB, .271 Opp Avg., 89 Hits


RH closer David Berg- 6-0/190 lbs, So., Covina, CA
First Team All-American, National Stopper of the Year, Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year
7-0, 46 appearances*, 21 Saves*, 0.88 ERA*, 71.1 IP, 73 Ks, 8 BB, .194 Opp Avg., 49 Hits 

RHP Zack Weiss- 6-3/210 lbs, Jr., Irvine, CA
2-1, 41 appearances, 2.33 ERA, 38.2 IP, 27 Ks, 12 BB, .245 Opp Avg., 35 Hits
– Selected by Cincinnati Reds in 6th Round of 2013 MLB Draft 

RHP James Kaprielian- 6-4/195, Fr., Tustin, CA
Freshman All American (Collegiate Baseball magazine)
0-0, 31 appearances, 2 Saves, 1.67 ERA, 37.2 IP, 50 Ks, 23 BB, .150 Opp Avg*., 19 Hits

“We bonded and became a team a couple weeks ago. … To beat I think the best team in the country [Fullerton] says a lot about the character [of the team]. Their discipline and their habits, you name it, we did it. I think we earned it.”
– UCLA Head Coach John Savage, after sweeping Cal State Fullerton in 2013 Super Regionals and advancing to the CWS

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