26 Jun

a heavily armed champ

In its college preview issue back in February, Baseball America put UCLA at No. 12, a ranking based in part on the fact that the Bruins lost most of their best hitters from a 48-win team that reached the College World Series. The magazine’s editors summed up UCLA’s prospects: “The Bruins morphed into an offense-driven club in 2012. This year they should be balanced again, but their strength is pitching. It should be a winning formula.” It was – sort of. In the 2013 CWS, the Bruins didn’t hit much, but their pitching was nothing short of amazing, as Mississippi State (BA’s preseason No. 5) can attest. The Bulldogs, who trotted out a fairly potent attack that featured two MLB draftees, were held to 11 hits and one run in 18 innings as UCLA swept the championship series 2 games to none. Over five CWS games, all wins, UCLA’s staff ERA was 0.80. The Bruins threw MLB draftees Adam Plutko (the CWS’s Most Outstanding Player) and Nick Vander Tuig at the Bulldogs and both right-handers were as good as advertised. Sidearming closer David Berg was pretty tough, too. In today’s college game, with the toned-down bats, pitching has never been more important. UCLA had it, and now the storied program owns its first baseball national title, something State is still chasing. P.S. With Colorado playing Boston for the first time since the 2007 World Series, memories have been evoked of State alum Jonathan Papelbon fanning Ole Miss product Seth Smith for the final out of the Red Sox’s four-game sweep. Those two have moved on, but there are Mississippi connections in the current series. Ex-Holmes Community College star Roy Oswalt started today for the Rockies, and Meridian CC alum Corey Dickerson went 1-for-3 as the Colorado DH on Tuesday. … Former State standout Tyler Moore is back in the big leagues with Washington, though he did not play on Tuesday.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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