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Pat Valaika (photo by Rich Heins)

Courtesy: UCLA Athletics
UCLA and Mississippi State Set to Clash for NCAA Title
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  06/23/2013

June 23, 2013

Updated CWS Notes Get Acrobat Reader | NCAA CWS Central
CWS Pre-Finals Press Conference | 2013 Media Guide

Omaha, Neb. - The UCLA Baseball team (47-17) will look to earn its first NCAA Championship in program history this week, as the Bruins will clash with Mississippi State (51-18) from the SEC in a best-of-three championship series beginning on Monday at 5 p.m. PT. All three games will be televised live by ESPN. The Bruins will send junior right-hander Adam Plutko (9-3, 2.29) to the mound in game one while Mississippi State will counter with sophomore right-hander Trevor Fitts (0-0, 2.86). UCLA will serve as the visiting team in games one and three (if necessary) and the home team in game two.

Mississippi State (51-18) vs. UCLA (47-17)
All games slated for 5 p.m. (PT)/7 p.m. (CT), televised on ESPN
Game 1 - Monday, June 24 - UCLA visitor, Mississippi State home
Game 2 - Tuesday, June 25 - Mississippi State visitor, UCLA home
Game 3 - Wednesday, June 26 - UCLA visitor, Mississippi State home (if necessary)

PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha

Monday, June 24 - 5 p.m. (PT) - TV: ESPN
UCLA - Adam Plutko, RHP, Jr. (9-3, 2.29)
MSU - Trevor Fitts, RHP, So. (0-0, 2.86)

LIVE AUDIO AVAILABLE (audio here)
UCLA will provide a live audio broadcast of Monday, Tuesday and if necessary Wednesday's games on uclabruins.com, free of charge. UCLA's John Ramey and Tim Wilhelm will have the call live from TD Ameritrade Park. In addition, live stats of all College World Series games will be available through CBS College Sports.

ABOUT THE BRUINS
• UCLA is appearing in its second College World Series Finals in the last four years.
• The Bruins are 8-0 in the postseason, the longest postseason winning streak in school history.
• UCLA's three runs allowed in the CWS so far is the fewest by a team in its first 3 CWS games in the aluminum bat era.
• The Bruins have outscored their opponents by a 33-13 margin in the postseason.
• UCLA is 4-0 against national seeds in the NCAA Tournament (No. 5 Cal State Fullerton, No. 4 LSU, No. 1 UNC).
• Seven UCLA ballplayers were selected in the 2013 MLB Draft.
• The Bruins are tied for sixth, nationally, with 181 wins in the last four seasons (ranks first among Pac-12 teams).
• UCLA is one of three schools to have hosted NCAA Regionals the last four years (South Carolina and Virginia).

BACK-TO-BACK CWS TRIPS
UCLA is playing in the College World Series for the second year in a row and for the third time in the last four years. A total of 21 players are back from the 2012 team that reached the College World Series while 12 of those players saw action in last year's CWS. Senior Cody Regis is the only member of this year's roster to have played in the 2010 and 2012 College World Series. UCLA has compiled a 7-9 all-time record in five appearances at the College World Series. Head coach John Savage has all seven of those wins. The Bruins are looking for their first NCAA Championship in baseball. As a school, UCLA has a national-best 108 NCAA Championships.

HOW UCLA GOT HERE...
The Bruins enter their second College World Series Finals in the last four years after sweeping the first three games of the Series. UCLA opened the CWS with a dramatic 2-1 win over LSU, getting the winning run in the top of eighth when Christoph Bono scored on an error by Tiger shortstop Alex Bregman. The Bruins followed that up with another 2-1 win over N.C. State in the winners bracket before defeating top-seeded North Carolina 4-1 to advance to the Finals. UCLA and Mississippi State have met once before in the College World Series, meeting back in 1997. The Bulldogs won that contest, 7-5, to eliminate the Bruins from the CWS. The only other postseason meeting between these two teams occurred in 1992, when the Bruins defeated Mississippi State, 3-2, in the Mideast Regional in Starkville.

40-WIN CLUB
The Bruins have posted a 47-17 record after winning the first three games of the College World Series. UCLA has totaled at least 40 wins for the third time in four seasons and for the ninth time in program history. The Bruins have won at least 40 games in each of their four previous College World Series seasons (1969, 1997, 2010, 2012). Prior to 2010, UCLA had not recorded 40 or more wins since going 45-21-1 in 1997. The Bruins have only reached the 50-win plateau during their record-setting 51-17 campaign in 2010.

BRUINS DEFEAT CAL STATE FULLERTON
UCLA traveled on the road for a Super Regional for the first time in six years and defeated Cal State Fullerton in two games to advance to the College World Series for the fifth time in school history. The Bruins earned a dramatic 5-3 10-inning win over the Titans in the first game to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Sophomore Eric Filia led UCLA with a 4-5 night that included the game-winning RBI in the top of the 10th. Junior Adam Plutko was terrific on the mound once again, pitching seven strong innings and allowing just one unearned run. David Berg picked up the win with three innings in relief. Then on Saturday, the Bruins scored three runs in the bottom of the first to propel them to a 3-0 shutout win over Fullerton. Junior Pat Gallagher hit a two-run single in the bottom of the first to give UCLA the lead while junior Nick Vander Tuig held the Titans scoreless on the mound for 6.1 innings. Freshman James Kaprielian, junior Zack Weiss and Berg then combined to hold the lead for 2.2 innings in relief.

REGIONAL SWEEP
The Bruins advanced to the NCAA Super Regional round by winning three consecutive games in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional. Adam Plutko pitched seven strong innings and Pat Gallagher posted a three-hit game to lead UCLA past San Diego State, 5-3, in the opening game. The Bruins then overcame a four-run deficit in game two with help from Kevin Williams' three-run game-tying triple in the sixth inning to defeat Cal Poly, 6-4, to advance to the NCAA Los Angeles Regional finals. In the finals, UCLA met San Diego and earned its third postseason shutout in program history, downing the Toreros, 6-0. Grant Watson, Zack Weiss and David Berg combined to throw a one-hitter against San Diego.

PAC-12 PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Sophomore reliever David Berg continued to pick up more accolades in his terrific sophomore season, as he was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. 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 7-0 with 23 saves in 2013, while leading the Pac-12 in ERA with a 0.96 mark. Berg's 23 saves are also a new UCLA single-season record and are tied for the most saves in a single season in Division I history, matching Jack Krawczyk's (USC) 23 in 1998 and Tyler Roger's (Austin Peay) 23 in 2013. In addition, he is second in the country in WHIP (walks and hits allowed per innings pitched) with a mark of 0.85 and has 24 career saves, the most all-time in UCLA history.

MORE BERG
In addition to his Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year honors, Berg was named to the All-Pac-12 Team for the second time in his career, making him just the 25th UCLA player all-time to receive all-conference acclaim at least twice. Berg also was named the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, given out to the nation's top relief pitcher, making him the first UCLA pitcher to earn the prestigious award. He has allowed the lowest opposing batting average (.197) and fewest runs (8) in the Pac-12, all while appearing in the most games in the country (49), two shy of matching the NCAA Division I single-season record. 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, and has recorded a save in 10 of UCLA's last 15 games. Finally, Berg was named a first-team All-American by Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball, the NCBWA and Baseball America, a second-team All-American by Perfect Game USA and was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award.

ACE NUMBER ONE
Adam Plutko (9-3, 2.29) will take the mound in game one tomorrow night for the Bruins. The junior from Glendora, Calif. has served as UCLA's Friday starter all season, posting 79 strikeouts in 118 innings pitched and allowing a .209 batting average against him, the fifth-lowest opposing average in the Pac-12. Plutko is also in sole possession of second place on UCLA's all-time career wins list with 28 victories and is currently seventh on the Bruins' all-time strikeout list, logging 270 strikeouts. In his last 10 starts, Plutko is 8-1 with a 1.75 ERA. In seven career postseason starts, he is 6-0 with a 0.87 ERA. In his career, Plutko is a three-time All-Pac-12 honoree and in 2012 earned All-America honors from Baseball America and Perfect Game USA.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES
The Bruins are outscoring their opponents 117-75 through the first three innings...UCLA is also 30-6 on the year when scoring first and 17-2 when scoring in the first inning..UCLA has a record of 39-5 when scoring three or more runs in a ballgame...In one-run games, the Bruins are 17-2 on the season...They are also 39-0 when leading after seven innings and 37-1 when holding their opponent to three runs or fewer...The Bruins have held their opponents to two runs or fewer in 31 of their 64 games...UCLA's eight-game postseason winning streak is now the longest postseason winning streak in program history...UCLA's three runs allowed in the CWS so far is the fewest by a team in its first 3 CWS games in the aluminum bat era (since 1974)...UCLA is the only team left in the CWS who is undefeated in the postseason...The Bruins are tied with Arkansas for the most wins in the country when scoring two runs or fewer (8)...Finally, since 2010, head coach John Savage has won 181 out of 255 games played, giving him a winning percentage of .710.

PAC-12 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Junior shortstop Pat Valaika became the first UCLA player to win Defensive Player of the Year honors from the conference. The Valencia, Calif. native has started every game at shortstop for the Bruins this year, committing only six errors in 267 chances. At the plate, Valaika is batting .250, leading UCLA in doubles (14), triples (3), home runs (5), RBI (46), walks (33) and slugging percentage (.396). He is second with 17 multi-hit games. Valaika was also one of 14 semifinalists up for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award. In conference play, Valaika led the Bruins with 20 RBI and a .410 slugging percentage.

STRONG STAFF
UCLA's pitchers have posted a team ERA of 2.61, which ranks second in the Pac-12 and ninth-best nationally. The Bruins also rank fourth in the country with an overall WHIP of 1.08. UCLA's starting pitchers have posted a combined ERA of 2.78 in 64 games, striking out 246 batters, while UCLA's bullpen has combined for a record of 12-3 with a 2.29 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 204.1 innings pitched. As a team, the Bruins have held opponents to a .223 batting average against them, second-lowest in the Pac-12, and have allowed the fewest runs (195) and second-fewest walks (160) in the conference. In addition to David Berg leading the nation in appearances, junior Zack Weiss ranks second in the conference with 42 appearances on the year. Weiss is 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA this season.

GOLD GLOVE DEFENSE
UCLA has been outstanding in the field this season, posting a team fielding percentage of .980, which is ranked sixth in the country and second in the Pac-12. The Bruins have committed only 50 errors, the second-fewest in the conference. In 2012, UCLA's defense recorded a .976 fielding percentage, matching the second-highest mark in school history.

ACE NUMBER TWO
Junior-right hander Nick Vander Tuig has enjoyed an outstanding season on the mound for the Bruins, serving as the team's Saturday starter all year. The right-hander from Oakdale, Calif. is 13-4 on the season with a 2.31 ERA. He leads the Bruins in strikeouts (87) and has allowed just 17 walks all season, seventh-fewest in the Pac-12. Vander Tuig's 13 wins are also second-most in the conference and third-most on UCLA's all-time single season wins list. 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 16 of his 18 starts and is currently tied for third with Bill Brasher (1964-66) on UCLA's all-time career wins list (26). Vander Tuig has appeared in nine career postseason games, starting six of them and posting a 5-2 record with a 2.53 ERA. In the 2012 postseason, he went 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA, 24 strikeouts and three walks in 20.1 innings.

OUTFIELD LEADERS
UCLA's outfield pair of Eric Filia and Brian Carroll have led the Bruin offense to a recent surge in production. In his last 30 games, Filia is hitting .321 with 23 runs, six doubles and 15 RBI, all while posting an on-base percentage of .419. Filia has also hit safely in 19 of his last 25 games and has recorded multi-hit games in four of his last eight contests. Additionally, the sophomore from Huntington Beach, Calif. enters tomorrow's matchup with the sixth-highest batting average in UCLA postseason history, batting at a .400 clip in 30 at-bats. Carroll has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup all season, stealing 30 bases in 37 attempts, tied for the most in the conference and 17th-most in the country. Carroll's 30 stolen bases are the most by a UCLA player in a single season since Eric Byrnes had 30 in 1998. In addition, Carroll leads the team in runs scored (46) and has posted an on-base percentage of .367.

SENSATIONAL SOPHOMORE
Sophomore left-hander Grant Watson has continued the success he enjoyed as a freshman, posting another solid season as UCLA's Sunday starter. Watson, who owns a career record of 17-4 as a starter, is 9-3 on the season with a 3.01 ERA. He has surrendered just 16 walks, good for sixth-fewest in the conference, and has struck out 55 batters in 92.2 innings pitched. In his last outing against North Carolina at the College World Series, Watson was dominant, allowing just four hits in six shutout innings to earn his fourth consecutive win and send the Bruins into the College World Series Finals. In 2012, he set a UCLA record for wins by a freshman with nine and was rewarded with freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.

ROAD WARRIORS
Since the start of 2010, UCLA has gone 77-34 in all road and neutral site contests. The Bruins have also gone 40-17 in Pac-12 road games since 2010. In the last two seasons, UCLA has gone 36-12 on the road and 5-2 in neutral site games. The Bruins have logged five Pac-12 road sweeps in the last three years (2010 at Washington, California; 2011 at Oregon; 2012 at Washington, Utah; 2013 at USC) and one non-conference road sweep (2012 at Georgia). The Bruins went 17-8 on the road this season, winning series at Baylor, Oregon, Washington State and USC and winning midweek games at UCSB, Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine.

ALL-NCAA REGIONAL TEAM
Pat Gallagher headlined the 2013 NCAA Los Angeles Regional All-Tournament Team three weeks ago, winning Most Outstanding Player honors after going 5-9 with two runs and four RBI. Joining Gallagher from UCLA on the All-Tournament Team included shortstop Pat Valaika, outfielder Eric Filia, and pitchers Adam Plutko and Grant Watson. Plutko and Valaika were named to the All-Regional Team for the second year in a row while Watson and Filia made their first appearance on the team.

IMPRESSIVE RESUME
Head coach John Savage has posted a 30-14 overall record for the Bruins in seven trips to the postseason, making him the winningest postseason manager in UCLA history. The Bruins' ninth-year head coach has gone 17-6 at NCAA Regionals, including perfect 3-0 records at the 2007 Long Beach Regional and at the 2010, 2012 and 2013 Los Angeles Regionals. His ballclubs have gone 6-3 in four trips to NCAA Super Regionals and 7-5 in three trips to the College World Series. The Bruins posted a 3-3 record at the 2010 College World Series, advancing to the championship series for the first time in school history. In addition, by guiding the Bruins to their second straight College World Series, Savage has become of one just 10 coaches all-time from the Pac-12 to lead their teams to back-to-back College World Series appearances (Frank Sancet, Jerry Kindall - Arizona; Bobby Winkles, Jim Brock - Arizona State; Pat Casey - Oregon State; Mark Marquess - Stanford; Sam Barry, Rod Dedeaux, Mike Gillespie - USC). Savage served as the pitching coach at USC from 1997-2000, where he helped lead the Trojans to the 1998 national title and another apperance at the CWS in 2000. Savage has also coached two of the three pitchers who hold the NCAA single-season saves record, as he was Jack Krawczyk's pitching coach at USC when Krawczyk had 23 saves in 1998 and he is currently serving as David Berg's pitching coach in 2013.

GALLAGHER LEADING THE WAY
Junior first baseman Pat Gallagher has been on a tear in his last nine games, batting .485 with two doubles and eight RBI. Gallagher has also slugged .545 in his last nine games while recording an on-base percentage of .486. The junior from Reno, Nev. has four multi-hit games in his last nine appearances, recording at least one hit in each of those nine contests. Finally, Gallagher has posted the fourth-highest postseason batting average in school history, hitting .414 in nine postseason games.

TOP THREE FINISHES
UCLA has finished among the top three in the Pac-12 Conference each of the last eight seasons (2006-2013), the only Pac-12 team to have done so. Under John Savage, UCLA finished third from 2006 through 2009, before finishing second in 2010 and winning the confernece title in 2011 and 2012. This season, UCLA finished third with a 21-9 Pac-12 record. Never before in school history has UCLA enjoyed an eight-year span with as many top finishes in the standings.

KAPRIELIAN NAMED FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICAN
UCLA freshman pitcher James Kaprielian was named to the Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America team. Kaprielian has logged a 1.59 ERA in 33 appearances this season while recording two saves. He has also given up just seven earned runs in 39.2 innings this season has struck out 53 batters in relief, all while allowing just a .143 opposing batting average.

CONSISTENTLY RANKED
UCLA came in at No. 10 in the final regular season Baseball America top-25 poll, marking the 33rd consecutive week that the Bruins have been ranked in the top 25. The Bruins last dropped out of the poll on May 22, 2011. UCLA finished the 2012 season ranked No. 5 by Baseball America and reached No. 1 in the poll back on April 12, 2010. In the last three seasons, the Bruins have been ranked in the top 10 by Baseball America a total of 16 times. UCLA also currently has an RPI of 10 and the No. 2 strength of schedule according to boydsworld.com.

ALL-CONFERENCE SELECTIONS
In addition to Berg and Valaika being named Pac-12 Pitcher and Defensive Player of the Year, the Bruins landed a total of four players on the All-Conference team. Berg and Valaika each were named to the squad, joining junior pitchers Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig. Plutko received All-Conference honors for the third year in a row, joining Garrett Atkins (1998-2000),(Trevor Bauer (2009-11) and Dennis Delany (1976-78) as the only UCLA players to earn All-Conference acclaim three times. 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. Junior outfielder Brian Carroll and sophomore infielder Kevin Kramer received honorable mention acclaim.


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