UCLA (47-17) are in their second College World Series final in the school’s history, the first being in 2010. The Bruins are 8-0 during this postseason and are the only unbeaten team left, to go along with having the longest postseason winning streak in school history. UCLA has a +20 run differential only giving up three runs thus far in the College World Series. Their three runs given up are the fewest by a team since 1974 in aluminum bat era. UCLA coach, John Savage, is 30-14 in the post season, which is a school record for career postseason wins. The Bruins pitchers have combined for a 1.00 ERA through 20 innings in the CWS. UCLA battled UNC on Friday night and came out on top with a 4-1 win despite a late 9th inning rally from the Tarheels. Their win over UNC was the 31st time this season the Bruins have been able to hold their opponent to two or fewer runs. Some pitchers to watch are as follows; Pac-12 pitcher of the year David Berg will be one to keep an eye on for sure with a season ERA of 0.96, 77 strikeouts, and a 7-0 record. Berg also had an incredible 23 saves this season which leads the team along with being named to the All-Pac-12 team for the second time in his career. Another pitcher to watch is Adam Plutko who’s ERA is 2.29 with 79 strikeouts and a 9-3 record. UCLA isn’t a high scoring offense by any means but their stellar defense allows them to win low scoring games. A few hitters to watch include Pat Valaika who is hitting .250 and has team highs with five homeruns and 46 RBIs, Pat Gallagher leads the team with a .283 batting average with 20 RBIs and one homerun. The last player to watch is Kevin Kramer who has 41 RBIs, three homeruns, and a .276 batting average. Look for these guys to make a major impact for the UCLA Bruins as they try and win their first national title at Omaha.
Mississippi State (51-18) is going to the College World Series final for the first time in school history. Mississippi State defeated Oregon State 4-1 to advance to the final series against UCLA. With this the Bulldogs have put an SEC team in the championship series for the sixth season straight. The Bulldogs are 3-0 in Omaha which bests their pervious eight appearances in the College World Series. Mississippi State has set a school record with 11 wins in the postseason and their overall record of 51-18 is second best in school history trailing the 1989 Bulldogs who won 54 games. Coach John Cohen has a record of 176-129 as the MSU head coach but this is his first College World Series appearance, so look for his enthusiasm to inspire his team to compete at peak performance. The Bulldog’s talented roster has received great recognition with junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe picking up All-American Honors along with two other Bulldogs being named to the 2013 All-South region team. Renfroe also won the 2013 C Spire Ferriss Trophy in Mississippi and was drafted 13th overall by the San Diego Padres. Key pitchers to watch in this matchup include Ross Mitchell who has 44 strikeouts, an ERA of 1.27, and a stellar 13-0 record. Jonathan Holder will also be one to watch with his team leading 21 saves, team leading 86 strikeouts, and a 1.24 ERA. Notable hitters include Adam Frazier who’s averaging .355 with 38 RBIs, and Wes Rea with his 40 RBIs, seven homeruns, and .300 batting average. Slugger Hunter Renfroe will definitely be a player to watch at all times with his team high .358 batting average, team leading 65 RBIs, team leading 16 homeruns. The Mississippi State Bulldogs behind Renfroe will do everything they can to win the school’s first ever national title in baseball.
This game will be a battle with UCLA’s defense trying to hold off Renfroe and the Bulldog offense. I predict that the series will go three games with Mississippi State winning the school’s first ever baseball national title.