Please forgive me for saying “Deja Vu”, as…
Once again, UCLA’s baseball team was facing a squad that was favored, the North Carolina State Wolfpack having beaten the overall number one seed North Carolina in their first College World Series game.
Once again, the Bruins used small ball to score, using a based loaded single and a wild pitch.
Once again, they dodged a bullet when the Wolfpack’s Trea Turner smashed a pitch in the eighth inning that everyone thought was a three-run homer, only to have left fielder Christoph Bono make an over-the-shoulder catch to thwart the threat.
Once again, UCLA’s pitching dominated as Nick Vandertuig spread four hits and a run over a strong seven innings, with David Berg tying the NCAA single season record with his 23rd save.
And once again, the Bruins found themselves winners with their second straight 2-1 victory at Omaha, NE’s TD Ameritrade Park.
They may have pathetically anemic bats as their team batting average is a mere .250, and their playing style may be a throwback to the pre-1920s dead ball era, but…
UCLA (46-17) is now only one win away from the College World Series’ two-out-of-three final as the winner of the N.C. State (50-15) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels rematch on Thursday will need to beat the Bruins twice to deny John Savage’s team their spot in the championship series.
And best of all, the Bruins now get two days off to rest before they go back into action on Friday, which completely benefits their pitching.
“…with pitching like (ours), we know if we put up a couple runs and play good defense, it can take us a long way,” UCLA third baseman Kevin Kramer said after the game.
“It’s grueling. It’s tough to watch, I’m sure,” Savage commented. “…but our kids hung in there, and they persevered.”
As for what I currently think about the Bruins chances for a national championship, though they have a very good chance to do so, with their lack of hitting prowess I’m still not 100% sure if they can bring home their first NCAA title (and the school’s 109th), but…
The Dodgers won three pennants and two World Series in the 1960s using the same formula as UCLA – great pitching and fielding with punch-and-judy hitting – so if the Dodgers can do it, why not the Bruins?