UCLA, Mississippi State are seeking their first NCAA baseball title
UCLA and Mississippi State meet Monday in the opener of their best-of-three final at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
The Associated Press
OMAHA, Neb. – UCLA has won a record 108 national championships in team sports. Baseball is not among those.
That will change this week if the Pac-12 Bruins beat Mississippi State in the best-of-three College World Series finals that start Monday.
UCLA coach John Savage said Sunday there is no shame in his school’s dearth of baseball titles. Of the 66 NCAA championships that have been won in baseball, eight schools account for 44.
The Pac-12 has won the most baseball titles with 16, and USC has 12 of those.
“It’s not like they hand them out. Let’s be clear on that,” Savage said. “You have to earn it.”
The Bruins are in the CWS for the fifth time and are 7-9 in Omaha. The closest they have come to a national title was in 2010, when they were swept by South Carolina in the final series.
“A national championship is always going to hang over any program that’s an elite program that hasn’t won one,” Savage said.
Mississippi State of the Southeastern Conference is looking for its first title in any team sport. The Bulldogs thought they might win one in baseball in 1985 with future major-league players Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Brantley and ex-Mariner Bobby Thigpen, but they went 2-2 in Omaha.
“To have the opportunity to do what we’re going to do starting Monday is something that’s special,” Mississippi State pitcher Kendall Graveman said. “It really resonates with Starkville and the people of Starkville.”
Mississippi State and UCLA players noted the cultural differences between Mississippi and California.
“I don’t know how much deer hunting or bass fishing they do in Los Angeles, so off the field is probably going to be a little bit different,” Bulldogs first baseman Wes Rea said.
UCLA pitcher Adam Plutko said, “We do the bass fishing on the video games.”