UCLA Baseball Misses NCAAs After Injury-Riddled Season

Pac12LogoThe NCAA baseball tournament field was announced on Memorial Day, and UCLA—a recent fixture in college baseball’s postseason slate—was officially left off the bracket.

Of course, this is no surprise. UCLA finished with a 25-30-1 record, and thus weren’t considered a bubble team by any college baseball fans or observers.

In any case, this will be the first time the Bruins failed to make the postseason tournament since 2009, and only the second time since 2005. Since the arrival of head baseball coach John Savage, this is only the third time the Bruins have failed to make the NCAA regionals in his decade-long tenure. UCLA’s 25 wins is also the lowest win total of a John Savage-coached UCLA team since his inaugural season in 2005. 

Expectations for UCLA baseball weren’t particularly high at the start of the season—the Bruins were selected to finish third in the conference, despite coming off their first NCAA title in program history in 2013. However, the rationale for that placing had mainly to do with the talent that left the program for a chance to go pro, with pitcher Adam Plutko and shortstop Pat Valaika headlining a slate of UCLA departures.

UCLA finished far worse than they were projected to, though, primarily due to the injuries UCLA suffered before and during their 2014 campaign.

Starters Kevin Kramer, Eric Filia, and Kevin Williams were all hit with injuries prior to the start of the season, a major blow to UCLA’s chances at conference contention. Filia and Kramer figured to provide much-needed support on offense for a Bruins team that relied heavily on its defense in 2013. Kevin Williams was also considered a core member of the team in his senior year.

Matters got worse for the Bruins when, after a 19-15 start to the year, junior third baseman Chris Keck was sidelined for the rest of the year with a blood clot in his arm. After the news, the Bruins would win just six of their remaining 22 games, effectively eliminating them from postseason contention.

These injuries, of course, were accompanied with less-severe but impactful injuries sustained by pitcher David Berg and outfielder Brian Carroll.

The Bruins figure to return to full health in the 2015 season, and could be major conference contenders in Savage’s 11th season as head coach.

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