There’s a formula for getting to Omaha, and UCLA baseball coach John Savage knows it.
Savage has taken the Bruins to the College World Series in two of the last three years and while the players and opponents have changed over the years, the key to success hasn’t.
UCLA hosted its own NCAA regional in each of those three seasons, a fact not lost on its coach.
“There is some science to that, there’s a reason for that,” Savage said.
“You look at the teams that finish and go to Omaha, of the eight teams, usually five or six or seven of them usually host.”
The No. 9 Bruins currently find themselves on the bubble as far as being one of the 16 teams to host an NCAA regional and one of the eight that get to host a Super Regional.
With Pac-12 cellar dweller Utah coming to Jackie Robinson Stadium for a three-game series beginning today, UCLA (28-13, 11-7 Pac-12) is trying not to focus on whether it will be home for the postseason.
Instead, the Bruins have the mentality that nothing is guaranteed – not even a trip to the postseason.
“We don’t feel like we’re in, we want to play like we’re not in,” Savage said.
UCLA’s patient approach to the end of the season extended to the team’s play on Tuesday against UC Irvine.
While the Anteaters threw a barrage of pitchers the Bruins’ way, six in all, UCLA kept its cool at the plate long enough to break things open when it got a chance. The team scored five in the bottom of the seventh, busting the game open on a bases-loaded triple to left-center field by sophomore third baseman Kevin Kramer.
“We’ve done a good job of getting guys on base, but we’ve been lacking in trying to get the big hit. But Kevin came through for us (Tuesday) and hopefully in the future we just keep having good at bats with guys in scoring position,” said junior center fielder Brian Carroll.
Savage praised the win afterward as one of the best all-around team victories of the season.
Kramer noted the team approach was most important in allowing him to come up with the timely base knock.
“My hit was big, but I think even bigger was the team’s at bats (Tuesday) throughout the whole game,” Kramer said. “I give the credit to the guys before me.”
UCLA was also cognizant of starting off its eight-game homestand on the right foot Tuesday. Tied for third place in the conference standings with four Pac-12 series left, Savage said the Bruins are hoping to get on a bit of a roll at Jackie Robinson.
The team got the ball rolling on Tuesday and will try to continue its winning formula against last-place Utah this weekend.
“We can make a move,” Savage said. “We can make a little bit of a statement to get back in the race a little bit.”