May 29, 2013
Walnut Creek, Calif. - Sophomore reliever David Berg and junior shortstop Pat Valaika picked up Pac-12 honors today, with Berg being named the conference Pitcher of the Year and Valaika securing Defensive Player of the Year honors. In addition, Berg and Valaika were named to the All-Conference team along with junior pitchers Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig.
Berg is the third UCLA pitcher all-time to win the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year award (Trevor Bauer, 2011; Pete Janicki, 1992), and the second UCLA pitcher to earn the honor in the last three years. The Covina, Calif. native has posted a record of 6-0 with 18 saves in 2013, while leading the nation in ERA with a 0.70 mark. Berg's 18 saves are also a new UCLA single-season record and rank third in all of Division I baseball. In addition, he is second in the country in WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) with a mark of 0.78.
This is the second time in his career that Berg has been named to the All-Pac-12 team, making him just the 25th UCLA player all-time to receive all-conference acclaim at least twice. Berg has allowed the lowest opposing batting average (.190) and fewest runs (5), walks (7) and hits (43) in the Pac-12, all while appearing in the most games in the conference (41) as well. At one point this season, he did not allow a run in 37 consecutive innings, which was the longest consecutive scoreless innings streak in the nation this season. Finally, Berg is also a semifinalist for the NCBWA Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award and earlier this season was selected to the National Pitcher of the Year watch list.
Valaika becomes the first UCLA player to win Defensive Player of the Year honors from the conference. The Valencia, Calif. native has started every single game at shortstop for the Bruins this year, committing only five errors in 174 chances all season. His five errors are also tied for the fewest by any shortstop in the Pac-12. At the plate, Valaika is third on the team with a .262 average while leading UCLA in doubles (13), triples (3), home runs (5), RBI (39), slugging percentage (.421) and multi-hit games (17). He is also one of 14 candidates up for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award. This is the first time that Valaika has been named to the All-Pac-12 team in his career.
Plutko received All-Conference honors for the third year in a row, joining Garrett Atkins (1998-2000), Bauer (2009-11) and Dennis Delany (1976-78) as the only UCLA players to earn All-Conference acclaim three times. Plutko owns a record of 7-3 this season, logging a 2.60 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 97 innings pitched. Serving as UCLA's Friday starter all season, the junior-right-hander has allowed just a .207 batting average against him, the fourth-lowest opposing average in the Pac-12. In his three-year career, Plutko is tied for third on UCLA's all-time career wins list with 26 victories and is currently tied with Josh Karp for eighth on the Bruins' all-time strikeout list, logging 262 strikeouts.
Vander Tuig received All-Pac-12 honors for the first time in his career after posting a 10-4 record with a 2.30 ERA during the regular season. The right-hander from Oakdale, Calif. has been outstanding all year, leading the Bruins in strikeouts (74) and allowing just 14 walks all season. His 10 wins are also tied for fourth-most in the conference. In Pac-12 play, Vander Tuig went 7-2 in 10 conference starts, logging a 2.35 ERA and two complete games. Additionally, he has thrown at least six innings in 13 of his 15 starts thus far.
In addition to UCLA's four All-Conference selections, junior outfielder Brian Carroll and sophomore infielder Kevin Kramer were named to the honorable mention team. Carroll finished the regular season with 29 stolen bases in 36 attempts, good for second-most in the conference. His 29 stolen bases are also the most by a UCLA player since Eric Byrnes had 30 in 1998. Carroll leads the Bruins in runs scored with 40 and is second on the team with a .375 on-base percentage. Kramer leads UCLA in multiple hitting categories, including on-base percentage (.407), batting average (.290), hits (61) and hit by pitches (14).
Oregon State took home the conference's other three major honors, with Michael Conforto winning Pac-12 Player of the Year, Andrew Moore Freshman of the Year and Pat Casey Coach of the Year.
UCLA (39-17) opens up postseason play on Friday evening against San Diego State (31-29) in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium.