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John Savage to stay as UCLA’s baseball coach

Baseball coach John Savage will remain with UCLA despite USC's attempt to woo him away.
(Eric Francis / Associated Press)

John Savage will remain UCLA’s baseball coach, with a raise and a long contract extension, after USC tried to pry him away.

UCLA has offered to extend the national championship-winning coach’s contract through 2025, pending approval by the university’s board of regents, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.

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Savage did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment, but the person said USC had come after the coach “very hard” and with a “spectacular offer.” The person spoke anonymously because the deal was not complete.

Savage was paid more than $300,000 annually, including bonuses, by the terms of his previous UCLA contract, which ran through 2017. USC’s offer was more than $1 million per year, which would have made Savage the highest-paid coach in the nation.

Savage, 48, has been UCLA’s coach since 2005 but is also a former USC pitching coach.

The Bruins have participated in the NCAA playoffs in seven of the last eight years and advanced to the College World Series in three of the last four seasons.

UCLA won its first NCAA championship in baseball this season by winning 10 consecutive playoff games after a third-place finish in the Pac-12 Conference.

The Bruins won a regional in three games on their home field, swept Cal State Fullerton in two games at the Titans’ field, then outscored opponents at the CWS in Omaha, 19-4, in five games.

UCLA clinched its title by routing Mississippi State, 8-0, in a game in which the Bruins performed almost flawlessly. Solid defense, excellent starting pitching and expert bullpen work by record-setting closer David Berg were team staples throughout the season. But even without a slugger or .300 hitter in the lineup, UCLA generated more than enough offense during its title run with timely hitting in addition to precision execution of bunts, sacrifices and hit-and-runs.

USC fired Frank Cruz just before the start of the 2013 season and elevated Dan Hubbs, who had been associate head coach, to lead the baseball program.

Hubbs is listed as USC’s coach, not interim coach, but the Trojans had Savage at the top of their wish list.

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Twitter: @MikeHiserman


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