For the first time in program history, the UCLA Bruins are NCAA Division I Baseball National Champions, putting to rest a dubious distinction that was clouding the skies in Westwood for quite some time.
UCLA clinched the national title on Tuesday night—its 109th overall team title—by completing a two-game sweep of Mississippi State in the College World Series finals. The Bruins’ 8-0 beat down of the Bulldogs was the denouement of an epic and improbable 10-0 run through the NCAA Tournament that included four wins against national seeds.
Despite belonging to an institution unrivaled in athletic prowess like UCLA, the baseball team had never been able to take the cake at the College World Series and claim a national title. Different generations of Bruins have brought home ‘ships in almost every sport, amounting to the previous total of 108, but the shelf was still empty in baseball’s corner. It was an inexplicably absent achievement that always bothered the True Bluest of Bruins.
But as we stand here today, basking in the glory of being the best, none of that matters anymore. The 2013 baseball team has immortalized itself in UCLA lore by defying the odds and stealing the show in Omaha. With an NCAA Championship in hand, the history of Bruins baseball is just beginning to be written. Five CWS appearances and one national title is our current page, but the chapters left to come could bring riches well worth waiting for.
Led by ninth-year head coach John Savage, UCLA has successfully made the jump from fledgling success story to legitimate college baseball superpower. Most will think of national title No. 109 as the capstone for UCLA baseball, but I believe it’s the first brick of a foundation.
With recent upgrades to Jackie Robinson Stadium, the usual recruiting benefits of UCLA and now a legitimized winning model under Savage, the table has been set for sustained prosperity. Now, it’s simply time to take our seats. And though the Bruins will lose some key pieces heading into 2014, the future has never looked brighter for baseball in Westwood.