Throughout the course of their illustrious history, the UCLA Bruins have won 108 national titles: 19 in Men’s Volleyball, 16 in Men’s Tennis, 11 in Women’s Softball, and perhaps most famously, 11 in Men’s Basketball. But of those 108 titles, one sport was unrepresented.
UCLA had never won a national championship in baseball.
They had qualified for the NCAA tournament 19 times (including 7 of the past 8 years) and made the trip to Omaha four times previously, but each time had come back empty-handed.
When freshmen and walk-ons join the UCLA Bruins baseball team, a representative from the Atheltic Department walks them through the UCLA Hall of Fame, where those 108 titles are proudly displayed. They see the achievements of UCLA greats John Wooden and Lew Alcindor (now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), the Rose Bowl trophies, the banners won by the women’s softball team. Certainly awe-inspiring.
But yet…no baseball championships.
The message of these trips was clear: “Boys, it’s up to you to bring to UCLA a baseball title.” For years, that plea fell on deaf ears.
That is, until Tuesday.
On Tuesday, June 27, 2013, the UCLA Bruins defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 8-0, winning their tenth consecutive postseason game, going 5-0 in Omaha, and taking home the school’s first NCAA Baseball Championship.
They were perfect in the Los Angeles Regional, perfect in the Fullerton Super Regional, and perfect in Omaha. They deserve all the accolades they receive.
Although the College World Series itself was far from perfect (indeed, there is something to said about the lack of offense generated in TD Ameritrade and plenty of missed calls by the umpires), the UCLA Bruins were. Although the large ballpark certainly limited the number of home runs hit, that should take nothing away from the impeccable performance of the UCLA pitching staff, who gave up only four runs in five games. Five games featuring LSU, NC State, and the aforementioned Mississippi State, three of the top eight teams in the country.
Congrats to head coach John Savage and his entire UCLA squad. You are the college baseball’s best in 2013.