June 26, 2013 12:24:14 AM
OMAHA, Neb. - Mississippi State University coaches, players and fans now have 235 days until the start of the 2014 season to stew over the disappointment of not playing their best in the College World Series.
"What we've now done is knock on the door," MSU coach John Cohen said. "UCLA has knocked down the door tonight and we didn't do that."
The University of California at Los Angeles picked up its first ever national championship in baseball with a dominating 8-0 victory Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Park in front of an all-time record 27,127 fans. After losing in the CWS finals in both 2010, UCLA finally won it all in Omaha, Neb., in its fifth ever trip to the College World Series.
"We played good baseball and that's means we pitched, we defended, had quality, opportunistic offense and at the end of the day I think we outlasted everybody," UCLA coach John Savage said.
UCLA has now won 109 total national championships as a school but the empty case for baseball is no longer a problem in Westwood.
"We were during our offseason weight lifting program and saw the national championship wall," UCLA starting pitcher Nick Vander Tuig said. "We went to baseball and there was none and I remember Coach Savage was saying 'We gotta get our name on that board'."
After the following evening where MSU (51-20) flew out to the deep cavernous outfield 13 times, Vander Tuig (13-4) held the Bulldogs lineup in check for only five hits in a eight-inning performance.
"We have a lot of hear and I couldn't be more proud of this performance," Vander Tuig said. "Our defense has been like that all year. I really can't explain how good they are."
UCLA junior right handed pitcher Adam Plutko was named the tournament's most outstanding player after he controlled both MSU's and Louisiana State University in his two starts in the 2013 College World Series. In 13 innings, Plutko gave up just eight hits and two runs and potentially ends his college career undefeated in postseason play.
UCLA shortstop Eric Filia ended the night with a career-high five RBIs off a pair of clutch hits. Eight of UCLA's starting lineup recorded a hit in Tuesday's finale with Filia, Kevin Kramer and Cody Regis all recording multi-hit nights.
"I'd love to know what everybody was hitting in this tournament because well, everybody wanted to make a big deal about our batting average," Savage said. "I thought we had guys go up to the plate as threats and if you looked at the scoreboard stats, they weren't threats. They knew their roles."
MSU managed just one run and 11 hits in 18 innings of play in the CWS finals and is now 0-3 all-time in the postseason against UCLA. The Bulldogs were shut out for only the second time in the 2013 season.
MSU simply didn't get any production Tuesday from the middle of the order as Renfroe, Pirtle, Rea and Bradford went a combined 0 for 14 at the plate.
"It bothers me that we didn't play well the last two games but I think we played 15 postseason games and we played two bad games total," Cohen said. "I'll never understand why we picked this time to play one of our worst games of the year but we did."
It is the second straight year a team from the Pacific 12 Conference has defeated a Southeastern Conference school in the CWS finals after the University of Arizona topped the University of South Carolina in a sweep.
Tuesday night completed MSU's first ever appearance in the CWS finals in their ninth ever appearance in Omaha, Neb., as the Bulldogs will likely finish with their highest final ranking in the Baseball America Top 25 poll. The 1985 MSU team finished third after going 2-2 in the College World Series.
"I said at the press conference (five years ago) that we would win a national championship," Cohen said. "This is why we do it - to win the whole thing. What this club has done is lay some foundation for future teams because we're going to come back here and win this thing."
Four MSU players were selected to the CWS All-tournament team including first baseman Wes Rea, outfielder Hunter Renfroe, second baseman Brett Pirtle and designated hitter Trey Porter.
MSU administration announced a fan celebration at Dudy Noble Field to honor MSU's national runner up finish on Thursday as gates will open at 5 p.m. with admission being free.
"I'll always have a special place in my heart for this group of kids because everything they did was new to them," Cohen said. "It's hard to explain what these (older) kids have done for this program."
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