The University of California, Los Angeles had a baseball season worth remembering in 2013. After a season of hard fought wins—many of which were comeback victories—and a 21-9 conference record, the Bruins rolled through the NCAA Regionals and the NCAA Super Regionals on their way into the College World Series tournament for the second consecutive year.
On Tuesday, UCLA earned the perfect bookend to its season with an 8-0 victory over Mississippi State—the College World Series Championship trophy. It was the first baseball championship in school history.
The win was one of a two-game series in which the Bruins allowed the Bulldogs only one run. In total, with the likes of North Carolina State and LSU in the way of championship glory, UCLA allowed only four runs during the entire tournament.
“It was pretty crazy. This whole season was not easy. We were always doing well and we won games, but it was never easy for us,” Kevin Kramer said. “No one ever thought we would beat Fullerton, LSU, or North Carolina State. The whole journey was just awesome; it was a pretty epic journey.
“It still hasn’t set in yet, I’m sure it will once I get back into Turlock in the next couple days,” the former Turlock High Bulldog added.
Kramer was a key leader at third base this season for UCLA. The sophomore helped the Bruins tack on their first run with a first inning bunt that sent Brian Carroll to third and set him up for the subsequent score off a Eric Filia sacrifice fly. Kramer got a chance to add a run to the scoreboard in the third inning when he crossed the plate on a Pat Valaika single.
“We had complete confidence in the team and complete confidence in every single player,” Kramer said.
Kramer capped his championship performance from the plate with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning that scored Cody Regis and an 8th inning single that set up a Filia two-run single to effectively end the game.
Kramer wasn’t the only product of Turlock to help the Bruins, however. Winning pitcher Nick Vander Tuig—born in Turlock and an Oakdale High alumni—pitched eight innings and finished with five hits and no earned runs.
After the dust settled in Omaha, the Bruins returned to LA to enjoy their victory to the delight of the community. But in true championship fashion, the celebration will not last for long.
“Anytime you can go to Omaha two years in a row, it’s pretty special. We’re definitely going to be confident next year being the reigning champs,” Kramer said. “No one can ever take that away from us, but at the same time you have to move on and get back to work. It’s nice to win a college world series but when the whole reflection stage is over it’s time to get back to work and not let this be a distraction next year.”
And while the reaction to the first UCLA baseball championship might be a bit surreal on campus, Kramer is really looking forward to returning home and sharing the pinnacle of this season with those who matter most.
“I’ve gotten a lot of tweets, texts, and posts and it’s great that everybody was watching the games,” Kramer said of the hometown reaction. “I always knew I had a lot of supporters in Turlock and it’s been awesome to see them and talk to them and share the experience with them. I’m excited to get back home and visit with all my friends and family that I haven’t seen in six months.
“I can’t thank everyone enough in Turlock for watching and supporting us.”