'85 club still casts long shadow at Mississippi St

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm •  Published: June 22, 2013
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UCLA coach John Savage said his team is better offensively than the numbers indicate.

"It's a combination of offense, it's a combination of quality at-bats, it's the opponent making a mistake," he said. "That's the kind of team we are. We've kind of taken advantage of every little (break)."

UCLA has walked 12 times, advanced runners eight times with sacrifice bunts, stolen three bases and scored on a sacrifice fly. And 14 of its 16 hits have been singles.

"I think the park kind of fits into what we try to do," Pat Valaika said. "We're not a home run-hitting team — we don't even have that many doubles. We try to just get runners on and move them over, and get a single and score them. That's how we've done it all year, and that's what we've got to continue doing, because at TD if you put the ball in the air, it's not going anywhere."

Plutko and fellow starters Nick Vander Tuig and Grant Watson and three relievers have combined to allow three earned runs, and the Bruins have committed only one error.

The 6-foot-5, 272-pound Rea has led the Bulldogs, going 6 for 13 with three doubles and three RBIs. San Diego Padres' first-round draft pick Hunter Renfroe hit one of the three home runs at the CWS and has driven in four runs, and Brett Pirtle is 5 for 12 and has reached base in 42 straight games.

The Bulldogs' "village of pitchers," as Cohen calls it, hasn't had a starter get out of the sixth inning. But reliever Ross Mitchell has pitched a combined 5 1-3 innings of shutout relief over two appearances, Chad Girodo struck out 10 in 6 1-3 innings of relief against Indiana, and Jonathan Holder has recorded three saves to extend his school record to 30.

Renfroe said time will tell if the 2013 Bulldogs will produce as many prolific major-leaguers as the '85 team. But this squad already has won one more CWS game and is on the cusp of bringing home the school's first national title.

"You have the Palmeiros and Will Clarks," Renfroe said. "But we have depth in the pitching, we have unity and real balanced offensive and defensive strategies. I think we're one of the greatest baseball teams to come through Mississippi State. I guess they'll be talking about us in later history."

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