Only three teams in the history of the College World Series gave up one run or less in its first four CWS games.
Arizona State did it in 1972 and Holy Cross in 1952.
And UCLA this season.
For the Bruins, that’s simply the continuation of a trend.
UCLA has given up one run or less in 21 of its 65 games, including the last five. At the College World Series, Bruins starters have pitched a total of 26 innings and given up just 16 hits, four walks and three earned runs. That’s a 1.04 earned-run average.
The linchpin of UCLA’s season? Pitching and defense.
The linchpin of UCLA’s postseason?
Coach John Savage was asked that after Monday night’s 3-1 win over Mississippi State, a victory that left the Bruins one win short of their first NCAA baseball championship.
"Our defense has been the key to our success in our postseason run,” he said. “We haven't struck a whole lot of guys out. Our strikeouts are down really in the postseason. … I think any pitcher in our program will tell you that we rely on our defense.”
UCLA’s fielding percentage was sixth-best in the nation during the regular season, and it might be actually better than that. Fielding percentage measures plays not made. There’s no real gauge on how many plays are made – and the Bruins in both the infield and outfield made plenty of them Monday.
UCLA outfielder Brian Carroll has 32 stolen bases, the most by a Bruin since 1994, when Dave Roberts swiped a school-record 45.
Designated hitter Alex Detz is the only Mississippi State player from California. He played at San Luis Obispo Mission Prep, then for two years at Cuesta Community College.
Detz has reached base in 22 consecutive games and is batting .319.
Getting to Omaha is a bucket-list item for many ballplayers, but old hat to UCLA senior Cody Regis.
The Bruins’ second baseman has made three trips to Omaha – in 2010, 2012 and this season.
Regis plays good defense but is also a prime example of how scaled-back metal bats and a larger stadium have changed college baseball and its marquee event.
In 2010, Regis was a middle-of-the-order hitter and had seven hits in 25 at-bats with a home run and five runs batted in and four runs. This season he is batting in the eighth spot, is one for 12 at the CWS, and is batting .228 overall.
Mississippi State’s Brett Pirtle is one of few second baseman to bat cleanup for their teams. Looks as if he would also be good in the lead-off spot:
Pirtle has reached base in 43 consecutive games – 34 by hits, five by walks and four by getting hit by a pitch.
ALSO:Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun