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Summer Instruction Series: The Art Of Bunting

Summer Instruction Series: The Art Of Bunting

The Art Of BuntingBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

Bunting has been a big part of offensive play for many top college baseball teams since the late 1990s when changes were made to tame the performance of aluminum bats.

Augie Garrido, head coach at the University of Texas, is considered the best in the business at teaching the art of bunting. In the October 11, 2002 edition of Collegiate Baseball, Garrido explained how he teaches hitters this skill.

“The first thing to do is have the players understand the value of bunting,” Garrido said.

“Part of the psychological problem with bunting is that you can’t simply ask a less than successful hitter to bunt. If you ask such a player to bunt, he thinks you don’t have confidence in his hitting, and that doesn’t work. The player needs to know that he is bunting because it is his contribution to the rally.

“Players much practice bunting consistently in game environments and use it in games and not be afraid to do it. There is no question they would rather hit. That’s another thing I like about the bunting game. To do it well, it forces the player to be unselfish and make his contribution to the offense when you are advancing runners and so on. But you must use bunts in games.

“The fundamentals of bunting are pretty simple. You keep your balance, see the ball and get the bat out in front and watch the ball off the bat. Get your angle early. Most guys who don’t bunt very well don’t get into the proper position prior to the ball getting to them. So they don’t track it very well, and they don’t get the angle because they are rushed. So there is a timing and rhythm to it that needs to be followed. You need to keep it simple to be consistent.”

Garrido discussed when his batters begin showing bunt in a game.

“If the infield is back, I would rather have our hitters not show a bunt early if we are going to bunt for a base hit. If the infield is already in, you might as well just turn around and do it because it eliminates one of the elements of timing.

“It is important for the bunter to position himself in the front of the batter’s box prior to bunting the ball to allow for better bunting angles in fair territory. We have a batting cage that is set up for the bunting game and have targets that the bunters aim for. We also have targets on the field as well when they bunt. We try to bunt at specific areas and try to play games with it so they have fun with it.

“We don’t want our hitters attempting to deaden the ball because that is when hitters pop it up. So I just have them be firm with the bat and try to get the ball on the ground quickly. This allows the bunter to stay on top of the ball and let the ground deaden.

“When you get an early first bounce on a bunt, it helps the runner so he can get a good jump.”

Balance Crucial
There are different ways to grip the bat for a bunt, but Garrido has a certain method he likes.

“I like to see the top hand up on the bat to a point where the barrel is resting between the thumb and fore finger with those fingers out of the way of the ball striking the barrel. Those fingers are firm on the bat. Then you slide the bottom hand up a little bit as well so you have balance. When you have balance, it is easier for you to control the bat and see the ball.

“Another key teaching point is to keep the barrel of the bat in position so you have the proper angle prior to the ball hitting the bat. Then you can see the ball and the bat come together, so that contact zone is out in front of the eyes and slightly off to the side and you don’t foul a ball off into your face.”

How sophisticated do his teams get with the short game?

“To be honest, you will never, ever get control of this game. You just try to work on the percentages and get players a chance to contribute to the rally at the time they are involved with the rally. Then the results will take place. There are no guarantees in this game.”

Bunting Puts Balls in Play
Garrido said he resorted to utilizing the bunting game during his high school coaching career many years ago out of necessity.

“I think what motivated me to teach players to bunt early in my coaching career was that it was a way for the high school players to contribute. For a young player or any player for that matter, it is about their confidence. If you can’t contribute to the offense then you start playing with less intensity on defense. That’s just the way it works. With high school players, I wanted to give them a way for them to be successful and put the ball in play. That’s where it all started from.”

It was pointed out to Garrido that good bunts on any level can cause nightmares for defenses. Good bunts cause errors because throws are rushed and defensive players are usually thrown off balance.

“It puts the ball in play, and that’s one of the major issues with bunting. When you put the ball consistently in play, you have an edge. Bunting allows the batter to hustle down to first base and let the defense make mistakes. If the batter strikes out, it comes down to whether the catcher catches the ball or not.”

Toughest Bunt To Defend
Garrido discussed the most difficult bunt to defend.

“A real tough bunt to defense is the one that is in between the pitcher, second baseman and first baseman. If you get all three of those defensive players going for the ball, you have them beat because nobody is covering first base. That is the ideal situation. If the ball is in the right place, it forces three players who all have the responsibility to cover first or get the ball.

“They all must make a quick decision as to who will do what. That is where the problem is for the defensive player One must cover the base, another get the ball and the other get out of the way. It’s a tough, tough play to make when the ball is hit in the right spot.”

Garrido was asked if he utilizes any special bunting charts to track bunts during the season.

“No, not really. I know who can bunt and who can’t through the many practices we have. So that isn’t necessary.”

Garrido was asked if the hitting vision of his players, such as tracking pitches and reacting to them, is enhanced by spending a considerable amount of time on bunting.

“There is no question that bunting helps a hitter’s tracking ability. When you bunt a ball, it is one of the few skills that allows a player to track it from the pitcher and see the ball come off the bat at contact.”

The Texas skipper had one final tidbit of advice for coaches on the subject of bunting.

“If you don’t practice bunting, your players will probably not be able to do it during a game. If you don’t practice it in game-like situations where you have high intensity, you will probably not be able to bunt during games. The best way to do this is for the players to play games with high intensity concerning the bunting game. Have them hit targets on the field with their bunts. You can also have 2-man teams going against other 2-man teams for competition.”

For more great instructional clinics, subscribe to Collegiate Baseball newspaper, CLICK HERE.

Summer Instruction Series: Stealing & Defense

Summer Instruction Series: Stealing & Defense

Special To Collegiate Baseball

PORTLAND, Ore. — This is a multiple drill that combines the teaching of both base stealing techniques and defensive skills to be used against those attempting to steal.

• Protective Screens.

• Place protective screen behind second base to protect runners from errant throws from the catcher.

• Place protective screen behind first base to protect runners from errant pick off throws from the pitcher.

• Throw down bases.

• Stopwatch.

Pitchers will practice throwing from the “set position,” holding runners at first base and quick delivery to home plate.

• Place a pitcher on the mound.

• Works from set position.

• Pitcher tries to pick runner off first base.

• Works on quickness to home plate.

• Works on varying time between pitches to home to keep runner guessing.

• Quickness to home plate should be timed from start of pitcher’s first movement until ball hits catcher’s glove.

1.6 seconds = Poor

1.4 seconds = Good

1.3 seconds = Excellent

Catcher will practice proper shifting and proper footwork to improve quickness and release time on throws to second base as well as accuracy of throws to second.

• Behind home plate and in full gear.

• Receives pitches and throws to second base.

• Coach will use a stopwatch to time catcher’s throw to second.

• Stop the stopwatch the instant the ball is caught at second base.

• Ideal time is 2.0 seconds or less.

First Baseman will practice correct position and stance for holding runner at first and how to apply the tag correctly.

• Assumes correct position at first base to hold runner on.

• Receives pick-off throws from pitcher and applies tag.

Middle Infielders will practice covering second base correctly, receiving catcher’s throw, applying the tag correctly and “cheating” toward second base to be there in time to receive the catcher’s throw.

• Place shortstop and second baseman in their positions.

• Shortstop and second baseman alternate covering second base and backing up the throw.

• Middle infielders learn how far to “cheat” (play closer to second base) to be at second base in time to receive catcher’s throw.

• Middle infielders receive catcher’s throw and apply tag.

Base Runners will practice how to lead off first base correctly, return to first base correctly after a pick-off attempt, read the pitcher’s moves, make the correct initial step when “breaking” for second base and how to “look-in” when attempting to steal as ball enters impact zone.

• No runner on first base…for reasons of safety.

• Players line up behind first base along the right field foul line.

• Use throw down bases.

• Space bases about four feet apart.

• Three or flour players practice “breaks and leads” at one time.

• Runners break for second base as pitcher delivers to home.

• Runners do not slide, but run behind protective screen at second base.

• Runners should be timed.

3.4 seconds — Very Fast

3.4 to 3.6 seconds — Alert to Steal

3.6 to 3.8 seconds — Questionable

3.8 to 4.0 seconds — Hit and Run

4.0 seconds — Forget Stealing

Jack Dunn is the former head baseball coach at Portland State University. He has written many articles over the years for Collegiate Baseball. His articles focus on actual drills that can be used by coaches and players to improve specific skills. To subscribe to Collegiate Baseball, CLICK HERE.

El Dorado, San Diego Advance In NBC ’Series

El Dorado, San Diego Advance In NBC ’Series

2013 NBC World SeriesWICHITA, Kan. – The El Dorado (KS) Broncos and the San Diego (CA) Force each won four games to advance to Championship Week in the 79th Annual National Baseball Congress World Series.

The Broncos used aggressive offense and solid pitching to win four games and win the First Week Championship. Taking an early 4-0 lead to defeat the San Diego (CA) Force 6-2 in the meeting of the last two undefeated teams. Tyler Ware went 3-for-5 and scored twice and Clayton Taylor went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs.

Eric Schuermann, the second of four pitchers, earned the win in relief, allowing one hit and striking out three in 2 1/3 innings.

El Dorado, in winning a $5,000 compensation prize, led all teams in the First Week with a .331 batting average and was second in pitching with a 1.36 ERA. Taylor batted .500 (7-for-14) with 7 RBIs and three extra-base hits.

San Diego, which was unable to recover from that deficit, bounced back in the final game of the first week to beat Cape Girardeau (MO) 7-3. Timothy Williams went 3-for-5 and scored two runs, while Tyler Nordgren and K.J. Miramontes each drove in a pair of runs. Adrian DeMar went 5 2/3 innings to get the win.

The Broncos will open Championship Week on Aug. 2 against the Nevada (MO) Griffons.

The Force also earned a $5,000 compensation check and will play Clarinda (IA) Aug. 3

Those teams join 14 others, including two-time defending champion Santa Barbara (CA), in the second week double elimination phase.

This is the first year of the new format, in which the tournament is divided into two week-long segments.

ABCA’s Dave Keilitz Announces Retirement

ABCA’s Dave Keilitz Announces Retirement

Dave KeilitzMOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Dave Keilitz has announced that he will step down as Executive Director of the American Baseball Coaches Association in June of 2014.

He has served with distinction in that capacity for the last 20 years. Prior to that, he was the Athletics Director at Central Michigan University for 10 years, leading the Chippewas to 26 Mid-American Conference championships, a span in which every coach was named MAC Coach of The Year at least once.

He also was the head baseball coach at Central Michigan for 14 years and never had a losing season, compiling an impressive 456-203 record. He coached eight All-Americans, and 51 of his players signed pro contracts with seven eventually making it to the major leagues. He was involved with the baseball program for 20 years and was a graduate assistant and coach of the freshman baseball team for five years as he established an 84-26 record.

Keilitz was Central Michigan’s first All-American baseball player and established 19 game, season and career records for the Chippewas.

During Keilitz’s time as Executive Director of the ABCA, the association’s membership and number attending the annual convention have grown significantly.

In addition, he had his hand in important NCAA legislative accomplishments for baseball over the years as ABCA Executive Director including NCAA Division I bracket expansion, change of season, bat standards, academic performance, as well as recruiting and practice schedules, just to name a few. He helped stop attempts to reduce the number of games in NCAA Division I on several occasions and other potentially damaging NCAA legislation.

He is a member of the ABCA Hall of Fame, Midland County Sports Hall of Fame, Central Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame, NAIA Hall of Fame and MAC Hall of Fame.

A in-depth look at what Keilitz has meant to baseball coaches on all levels of baseball will be in the Sept. 6 issue of Collegiate Baseball newspaper.

Greatest Closer Was Once An Afterthought

Greatest Closer Was Once An Afterthought

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

OMAHA, Neb. — UCLA closer David Berg is able to juggle four balls at a time and six with a partner.

It only seems fitting since he is the greatest closer in college baseball history and seems to juggle anything batters have waiting for him.

No closer in college baseball history has put up the staggering numbers that Berg has in his first two years with the Bruins.

As his sophomore year recently concluded with UCLA’s first national baseball championship, Berg has now appeared in 101 games in two years (50 as a freshman and NCAA record-tying 51 this season) as he saved an NCAA record 24 games in 2013.

In 101 appearances, he only has two blown saves. And both times, he came back to post a win.

The Louisville Slugger first team All-American also posted a 7-0 record this season in 78 innings with a 0.92 ERA (second best in the nation) and struck out 78 batters with only 11 walks.

As hard as it is to believe, three seasons ago at Bishop Amat High School (La Puente, Calif.), his pitching career was on the rocks.

During his junior year, he only was allowed to pitch 9 1/3 innings as he was learning to throw as a sidewinder from his normal ¾ arm slot. He had a 6.00 ERA with 4 walks and 3 hit batters as he gave up 8 earned runs. 

“David came in as an outfielder/pitcher as a freshman and was a good athlete,” said Bishop Amat Head Coach Andy Nieto.

“Entering the fall of his junior year, he was having some difficulty pitching on the varsity level. It just wasn’t happening. I talked to my pitching coach Chris Beck and told him that we had to ‘Muckey’ him.

“There is a well known coach in Southern California by the name of Scott Muckey at Crespi High School who annually turns one of his pitchers into a sidearmer to give opponent hitters a different look.

“Both Chris and I felt David would be a good candidate to try this. There was no guarantee it would work.

“So we talked to David about it, and he took it from there as he worked extremely hard to learn this new delivery. And he wasn’t allowed to throw over the top any more.

“From that point on, he was only allowed to throw as a sidearmer.”

Nieto acknowledged that Berg had a tough junior year as he worked on his new arm angle.

“In fact, it took about a year for him to figure out how to throw from this arm slot with a completely new release point.”

During Berg’s junior year, he appeared to be a nervous wreck when he did pitch as he walked halfway to the plate to retrieve balls from his catcher and constantly paced around the mound.

Nieto and pitching coach Chris Beck had to remind Berg to stay on the pitching circle.

“He was definitely a pacer at that time. But now he has grown up physically and mentally and has a chance to pitch in the Big Leagues in a certain role.

“He has shown he can pitch to both right and left handed hitters which is rare for a sidearmer.

“We could see the potential he had, but David just needed some work at the change.

“We knew he was a diamond in the rough. The movement he had with the new arm angle was terrific, and the deception was superb.

“We felt if he tackled this new arm slot with the commitment he had in the classroom, he would make it work. And boy has he ever.”

Amazing Senior Year
His senior year at Bishop Amat was sensational with a 7-1 record, 1.05 ERA and 4 saves as he led the Lancers to the CIF championship with a 29-4 overall record.

He had 21 appearances in 33 games that season and threw 46 2/3 innings. It was a transformation for the ages.

“During his senior year at Bishop Amat, he was our salvation,” said Nieto.

“He pitched in every big game we had. I will never forget his outing against Torrance High School in the CIF semi-final game. We were down 4-0 after two innings, and he came in and no-hit Torrance for the next five innings as we rallied to win, 5-4. We then won the CIF title at Dodger Stadium in the final.”

Berg’s pitches darted under and over bats as hitters had trouble even making contact.

With renewed confidence, he was now a mentally tough pitcher who could conquer anything.

The breakout game of his senior season was at the National Classic when Bishop Amat took on St. Francis High School (Mountain View, Calif.) which was ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time.

The game didn’t start well for Bishop Amat as starting pitcher Daniel Zamora was chased from the game after 2 1/3 innings.

Berg came in to face this remarkable ball club and struck out 10 of the final 14 batters over 4 2/3 innings of relief work. Nobody could hit him as a re-tooled sidearmer.

Strangely, no college offered him an athletic scholarship despite his superb senior season.

His only offer was an academic grant from NCAA Division III Cal. Lutheran. Late in May, UCLA Recruiting Coordinator T.J. Bruce felt the Bruins should take a chance on him, and Bruin Head Coach John Savage agreed. U.C. Irvine and Nevada-Reno also started showing interest.

More On David Berg: The full story of David Berg is in the July 12, 2013 edition of Collegiate Baseball. He explains that he hasn’t been on any scholarship his first two years at UCLA despite throwing in 101 games and why he might not next season as well. He delves into how he made the adjustment to throwing sidearm, what type of pitches he has and the challenge of being a closer. Head Coach John Savage discusses why Berg is so special is as well as UCLA baseball team sports psychologist Ken Ravizza. To obtain this issue, CLICK HERE.

Summer Instruction Series: Throwing Drills

Summer Instruction Series: Throwing Drills

Throwing Game-LikeBy CHARLIE GREENE
Special To Collegiate Baseball

MIAMI, Fla. — Practicing to throw in game-like drills has long been needed in baseball to allow players to maximize their throwing skills.

The typical practice routine involves two players throwing the ball back and forth in order to build up arm strength and develop some degree of accuracy and quickness. However, the game requires wide variety of throws, few of which are found in just playing catch.

At the Major League level, teams rarely take “infield” anymore, and as one longtime Major League coach confided in me, “I can’t find four guys who want to.”

This has led to a decreased level of throwing skill. It is my opinion that players do not want to re-warm their arms when batting practice has been completed for both teams, and therefore are inclined to skip infield drill.

Starting in the early ‘80s our teams started to take infield immediately after warming up, and before batting practice at home games.

The advantages of having a freshly maintained field and the players properly warmed up were obvious.

No longer did the players have to be alerted to prepare for “infield in a few minutes” and rush to warm up their arms, sometimes insufficiently. Injured arms were often the result.

I would like to propose a series of throwing drills that involve the use of a various sized square formations, each providing a chance to practice game-related options. Groups of four in square formation can be set up near each foul line.

Getting sufficient repetitions is the basis for all acquired skills and throwing is no exception. Start out slow before picking up the tempo. Insist on proper footwork and arm action.

20-Foot Square
Four players form the corners of a square 20 feet apart and execute short throws in a clockwise, counter clockwise and diagonal direction.

The two types of throws are the underhand toss and the arm side “flip” where the player extends his arm while pronating (thumb down).

The coach can call out clockwise, counter clockwise, diagonal or allow player options.

Reminders: The underhand toss should be executed with a firm wrist extended directly at the receiver’s chest.

The arm side extension is best executed when the fingers also extend to the receiver’s chest. Both types of throws should be completed with a walking follow through.

60-Foot Square
Four players form the corners of a square 60 feet apart and execute overhand throws, also in a clockwise, counter clockwise, diagonal and player optional direction.

The emphasis at this distance is quickness.

Proper footwork will almost automatically occur, something that is missing in just “playing catch.”

Catch ball close to body. Don’t get quick until you secure the catch.

120-Foot Square
The enlarged square give the players a chance to stretch out their arms in the same directions as the smaller squares and will make the 90-foot infield dimensions seem easier.

90-Foot Square
This regulation distance is a test for the effectiveness of the other drills.

Coaches may want to use a stopwatch to objectively measure how much improvement is taking place.

Drills afford increased opportunities for needed repetitions. Footwork will come naturally with an occasional reminder from the coach.

Use all four drills each day or place emphasis on one or more. Skills are difficult to store and should be reviewed often.

The square formations provide an efficient method to duplicate game-like throwing challenges.

They are particularly effective for infielders and catchers, but pitchers and outfielders can also benefit.

(This story is part of an ongoing Summer Instructional Series Collegiate Baseball newspaper will be running in July and August. Please check back for more great ideas on playing baseball from top coaches and players. To subscribe to Collegiate Baseball, CLICK HERE.)

Summer Instruction Series: Catcher Communication

Summer Instruction Series: Catcher Communication

Coach/Colorado Rockies

Catchers must always be in communication with defensive players.

Here is how I suggest they work with pitchers, umpires and infielders.

To Your Pitchers
1. Subtle body language mechanical reminders.

2. No more than one simple verbal cue.

3. Positive reinforcement whenever necessary and appropriate.

4. Remind the pitcher before the pitch to get over to first base with a left-handed pull hitter up.

5. Get pitcher off the mound whenever the ball is hit. It’s especial important on balls hit to the right side. (“Get over there” loud and early.)

6. Make sure that the pitcher knows who he is working with on come backers. Make sure that the pitcher is reminded to throw to second on a come backer with runners on first and second with less than two outs or to second with runners on first and third with one out.

With runners on first and third and no one out, the dugout should tell you where they want a come backer to the pitcher thrown. It’s usually to second unless it’s late in the game. Just find out before the pitch.

Occasionally the dugout will want you to come home with one out and runners on first and third base on the running speed of the batter-runner or on a 3-2 count when the runner on first will most likely be running.

You must help the pitcher react to this situation if the runner from third does not break and there is no play at second.

Make sure that the pitcher stops the runner at third before he throws to first base.

1. Make sure the pitcher knows when the first baseman is playing behind a runner on first.

2. Remind the pitcher to stop especially with a runner on third and he is pitching out of the stretch. This should be a subtle sign or verbal so as not to heighten the umpire’s awareness and lead to a balk being called.

Use something other than “make sure to stop” or hold your hands at your waist.

1. When the pitcher is winding up with a runner on third, remind him to look the runner back at third before starting his windup.

2. Bases loaded and less than two outs remind the pitcher to come home on a comebacker.

3. With a runner on third or a runner on second and less than two outs, remind the pitcher to look the runner back before throwing to first base.

To Your Infielders
1. Give the infielders the outs frequently both verbally and visually.

2. Remind the corner infielders when base hit bunters are up.

3. Let all the infielders know when there is a plus runner at the plate.

4. Tell corner players to throw home or to second with the bases loaded and less than two outs.

5. Check “no doubles” positioning and make sure infielders have told the outfielders to keep the hitter off of second base.

6. Make sure that the defense is not way out of position based on the pitch call.

7. Give the infielders a dive reminder with a runner on second.

8. Three-two count and two outs and the force one, remind infielders to throw the ball to first base.

9. Subtle hand signal to middle infielders to heighten their awareness to delay without alerting the offensive team that you are ready for a delayed steal.

10. Remind third baseman that you’ll be at third base if he fields a bunt with a runner on first.

11. Remind first and third basemen of their cutoff and relay responsibilities.

12. When there is no possible play at the plate, go down the fence line and help the corner infielders on foul pops down the lines and near the fence.

To The Umpire
1. Non-confrontational discussions regarding pitches. No one should be aware of your conversation. (Do not turn around and don’t change your body language. Call him by his first name, never “Blue.”) If you show up an umpire, he’ll eventually win and you’ll lose. Umpires share information within their fraternity, so an overly aggressive confrontation with one umpire or umpiring crew is known to all.

2. Remind him to make sure the batter-runner is in the running lane the last 45 feet to first base when the bases are loaded and there is a potential force play at home.

3. Ask for an early and loud call when there are runners on first and third or first and second and there is a three ball count on the batter. The exception would be a 3-2 and 2 outs. So you are not needlessly throwing to second base or third base on a close pitch.

There is a fine line between community and over communication. If it slows the game down or people stop listening, you are probably over communicating.

(Since summer is a time to improve and work on your baseball skills, Collegiate Baseball is offering a special instructional series for coaches and players. Various top coaches from around the country will share information on all aspects of playing the game.) To subscribe to Collegiate Baseball, CLICK HERE.


UCLA’s Savage Named Coach Of The Year

UCLA’s Savage Named Coach Of The Year

UCLA Head Coach John SavageUCLA Head Baseball Coach John Savage has been named National Coach of The Year by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.

One of the most respected coaches in college baseball, Savage led the Bruins to their first national baseball championship at the recent College World Series with an 8-0 win over Mississippi St.

The Bruins, 49-17, rolled through the NCAA Tournament with a 10-0 record and finished 5-0 at the College World Series.

UCLA faced possibly the most difficult gauntlet of teams in history during its undefeated run to the national championship. The Bruins started off by beating two ranked teams in Cal. Poly and San Diego in Regional action along with San Diego St.

Then UCLA travelled to No. 4 ranked Cal. St. Fullerton and eliminated the Titans two straight.

At the College World Series, UCLA knocked off No. 1 ranked LSU, No. 5 N.C. State, No. 2 North Carolina and then swept Mississippi State two straight in the Championship Series.

Incredibly, the Bruins’ pitching staff only allowed four runs over five CWS games against these elite teams.

That achievement is especially relevant because Savage is also the pitching coach at UCLA and one of the best in the business.

In the 67-year-history of the College World Series, only one national champion has given up fewer runs than UCLA this year as California allowed three in 1957.

The Bruins were the first team in CWS history to allow one run or less in each of the five games they played.

UCLA only surrendered one run in two games played against hard-hitting Mississippi State in the Championship Finals. The lone run is the fewest ever given up by a team in the Finals.

UCLA’s pitchers only allowed 14 runs in 10 games during Regional, Super Regional and College World Series games.

The core of every Savage team has been the remarkable pitching staffs he has molded.

The top three starters on the 2013 staff included Adam Plutko (10-3, 2.25 ERA), Nick Vander Tuig (14-4, 2.16 ERA) and Grant Watson (9-3, 3.01 ERA).

The bullpen was incredible with All-American closer David Berg (NCAA record 24 saves in 51 appearances, 0.92 ERA, 78 strikeouts, 11 walks), James Kaprielian (34 appearances, 1.55 ERA in 40 2/3 innings), and Zack Weiss (43 appearances, 2.25 ERA in 40 innings), among others.

Pitchers posted a 2.55 ERA and struck out 457 batters with only 163 walks.

The staff, along with catcher Shane Zeile, only allowed 42 stolen bases in 64 attempts over 66 games and just one stolen base at the College World Series.

UCLA’s team ERA the last four years has been remarkable thanks to the tireless work of Savage.

  • 2010 (3.00 ERA).
  • 2011 (2.44 ERA).
  • 2012 (3.13 ERA).
  • 2013 (2.55 ERA).

Never in the history of UCLA baseball has the pitching been so good for so long, and that is a direct reflection of Savage who teaches every aspect of pitching to his hurlers, including the vital mental and emotional side.

Over his nine years, Savage has produced some of the nation’s top drafted pitchers, including Gerrit Cole (first overall pick in 2011 Draft by Pirates), Trevor Bauer (third overall pick in 2011 draft by Diamondbacks), David Huff (first round supplemental pick in 2006 by the Indians) and Rob Rasmussen (second round pick in 2010 by the Marlins), just to name a few.

Savage has guided the Bruins to the post-season in seven of the last eight seasons

He became UCLA’s first head baseball coach to lead the Bruins to the finals of the College World Series in 2010, guiding UCLA to a 51-17 record that year in a second place national finish to South Carolina.

Savage has also led the Bruins to their third College World Series appearance in four years and guided the Bruins to a top three Pac-12 Conference finish in each of the last eight seasons, the only Pac-12 team to do so.

UCLA has had 65 players drafted by professional baseball since Savage came on the scene

Previous Collegiate Baseball National Coaches of The Year include:

• 2012: Andy Lopez, Arizona
• 2011: Ray Tanner, South Carolina
• 2010: Ray Tanner, South Carolina
• 2009: Paul Mainieri, Louisiana St.
• 2008: Mike Batesole, Fresno St.
• 2007: Pat Casey, Oregon St.
• 2006: Pat Casey, Oregon St.
• 2005: Augie Garrido, Texas
• 2004: George Horton, Cal. St. Fullerton
• 2003: Wayne Graham, Rice
• 2002: Augie Garrido, Texas
• 2001: Jim Morris, Miami (Fla.)
• 2000: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.
• 1999: Jim Morris, Miami (Fla.)
• 1998: Mike Gillespie, Southern Calif.
aaaaaaMike Batesole, Cal. St. Northridge
• 1997: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.
• 1996: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.,
aaaaaaAndy Lopez, Florida
• 1995: Augie Garrido, Cal. St. Fullerton
• 1994: Larry Cochell, Oklahoma
• 1993: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.
• 1992: Andy Lopez, Pepperdine
• 1991: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.
• 1990: Steve Webber, Georgia
• 1989: Dave Snow, Long Beach St.
• 1988: Larry Cochell, Cal. St. Fullerton
• 1987: Mark Marquess, Stanford
• 1986: Jerry Kindall, Arizona
• 1985: Ron Fraser, Miami (Fla.)
• 1984: Augie Garrido, Cal. St. Fullerton
• 1983: Cliff Gustafson, Texas
• 1982: Ron Fraser, Miami (Fla.)
• 1981: Jim Brock, Arizona St.
• 1980: Jerry Kindall, Arizona

UCLA, Mississippi St. Seek First National Title

UCLA, Mississippi St. Seek First National Title

UCLA's David Berg Has 23 Saves, 0.96 ERAHistory will be made when UCLA and Mississippi St. square off in the best of three championship series at the 67th College World Series.

Both teams will be gunning for their first national baseball championship.

Heading into the championship series, UCLA has won nine in a row. The Bruins finished third in the Pac-12 this season with a 21-9 conference record behind Oregon St. and Oregon.

Mississippi St. finished fifth in the SEC regular season with a 16-14 record and caught fire in the NCAA tournament by winning eight of its last nine games.

Ball clubs from these two powerhouse conferences have won seven of the last eight CWS titles. Overall, current Pac-12 teams have won 27 national baseball championships.

SEC teams have won nine College World Series The UCLA-Mississippi St. championship series matchup will be the fifth time in CWS history that the Pac-12 and SEC have squared off in the finals (other years being 1977, 2000, 2010, 2012). It is the sixth straight year an SEC team has made it to the CWS final.

Both teams rolled through their 4-team brackets with 3-0 records and feature All-American closers in David Berg of UCLA (23 saves, 7-0, 0.96 ERA) and Jonathan Holder of Mississippi St. (21 saves, 1.24 ERA).

Here is a quick look at both teams:

UCLA: The Bruins’ pitching and defense rank No. 1 in the College World Series. UCLA has given up only three runs in three games(1.00 ERA) as the pitching staff has struck out 18 batters with six walks and only allowed 17 hits in 27 innings. On defense, the Bruins have only committed one error in three games for a .991 fielding percentage and turned two double plays while not allowing a stolen base. On offense, UCLA ranks dead last at the College World Series with a .182 batting average after three games. But the team has been resourceful in scoring eight runs on 16 hits. When batters do get on base, they are usually sacrifice bunted into scoring position. And a timely hit brings those runners home. UCLA beat LSU 2-1, N.C. State 2-1 and North Carolina 4-1 in their bracket to advance to the championship series.

Mississippi State's Jonathan Holder Has 21 Saves, 1.24 ERAMississippi State: The Bulldogs lead all College World Series teams with a .297 batting average after three games with five doubles, one home run and 14 runs scored. The pitching staff has a 2.33 ERA after three games and only allowed seven earned runs. But the bullpen has been special as it has only allowed two runs in 14 1/3 innings. The defense has committed three errors in three games with four double plays and only allowed one stolen base. Mississippi St. came from behind to win its first two games of the College World Series in its bracket (5-4 over Oregon St., 5-4 over Indiana) but never trailed in a 4-1 win over Oregon St.

Power Outage At College World Series

Power Outage At College World Series

Offenses sputter at College World SeriesBy LOU PAVLOVICH
Editor/Collegiate Baseball
© 2013 Collegiate Baseball

OMAHA, Neb. — A staggering downturn in offense has taken place during the past two College World Series because of the BBCOR specification bats which have been required since the 2011 season.

The lowest amount of home runs in 38 years were hit the last two championships. In addition, batting averages have plummeted as well as runs scored which also are the lowest in 38 years.

During the 2011 College World Series over 14 games, only 9 home runs were hit as the eight teams batted .239 with 101 runs scored (average 3.6 runs per team per game).

The 2012 CWS offensive numbers were just as anemic.

Only 10 home runs were hit in 15 games while the batting average was .234 and only 107 runs were scored (3.5 runs per team per game).

The numbers the last two years closely mirror the wood bat era in college baseball which took place up to the 1973 season.

Aluminum bats first started being used in 1974. Over time, the alloys were refined to the point that the balance of the game shifted.

With thinner and thinner bat barrel walls being manufactured, which had a dramatic trampoline effect on balls coming off bats, more and more home runs were hit.

The 1998 season featured the highest offensive numbers in NCAA Division I history as 273 teams set records for batting average (.306), scoring (7.12 runs per team per game), home runs (1.06 per game) and earned run average (6.12 per team).

The College World Series that year featured a home run derby of sorts as an all-time record 62 home runs were hit over 14 games.

In all, 62 homers were hit by 42 different players which was an all-time high. The batting average for all eight teams was .318 while 225 runs were scored.

The championship game saw Southern California beat Arizona St., 21-14 in what many thought was an abomination considering both pitching staffs had elite hurlers.

Nine home runs were hit by eight different players in that game, including Arizona State’s 5-foot-10, 170-pound shortstop Michael Collins who had only hit three home runs all season long heading into the CWS.

The 62 homers that year eclipsed the old standard of 48 hit during the 1995 CWS.

Louisiana St. and Southern California each hit 17 home runs to set a new record. The two teams combined for 34 home runs which would rank as the third highest total in College World Series history for one ‘Series. Only the 48 hit in 1995 and 35 belted in 1996 would rank higher.

During the 1996-1998 seasons, no team practiced “gorilla ball” better than LSU as the Tigers hit 131 homers in 1996, 188 in 1997 and 157 in 1998 for a staggering 3-year total of 476 home runs!

After the 1998 season, the NCAA Rules Committee put a stop to high performing bats and ultimately worked with physicists to utilize a new bat specification protocol (BBCOR) that would bring the game more in balance as metal bats performed closer to wood bats.

Now teams are fortunate to hit 40 home runs during an entire season.

More On This Story: Find out how college coaches feel about changing the bat or ball to infuse more offense into the game. ABCA Executive Director Dave Keilitz explains surveys he has taken from coaches, the potential issues involved in a possible change to a hotter ball and why Clemson’s Jack Leggett feels more offense is vitally needed in the college game with a hotter baseball. To obtain this issue of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe, CLICK HERE.