UCLA team feeds off MSU’s support

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

OMAHA, Neb. – Members of UCLA’s baseball team said they fed off the electricity generated by the legions of Mississippi State fans packing TD Ameritrade Park.
An estimated 10,000-plus MSU fans were part of the Monday crowd of 25,690 for Game 1 of the best-of-three series for the NCAA College World Series national championship.
Bruins coach John Savage certainly loved the super-charged feeling he got from the maroon-clad followers.
Monday “was big time. I mean, there was all kinds of Mississippi State people, and it’s great to see. They support their program,” he said. “They’re close enough to get here and it’s a great environment.
“I applaud them for showing up and supporting their team, they’re classy fans. They love baseball. Tip your hat to them.”
Savage and the Bruins have adapted an “Us Against the World” approach at the CWS. The Bruins have a small contingent of vocal fans following them.
“We’ve embraced kind of that stadium against us philosophy. And our guys enjoy that,” he said. “We like people in the stands; and on the West Coast you don’t get that as much as the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast.
“I think anybody that’s been out on the West Coast can tell you that.”
The coach noted that his program attracts maybe a 1,000 fans a game or less.
“We’re a top-five, top-10 team,” Savage said. “We’re starting to draw better. The people of Los Angeles and the UCLA community are starting to take notice.
“So you’ve gotta grow it. You’ve gotta build it. And we think they’ll come.”
All the MSU support didn’t go unnoticed by coach John Cohen and his players.
“A lot of them are giving up everything to be here for our baseball program,” the coach said. “A lot of them are giving up work time and vacation.”
Added MSU pitcher Chad Girodo, “We have a bunch of fans and they’re great. They always show tons of support.”
gene.phelps@journalinc.com