T.J. Bruce Named Nevada Head Baseball Coach
RENO, Nev. (NevadaWolfPack.com) – University of Nevada Director of Athletics Doug Knuth announced Friday that T.J. Bruce has been named the head baseball coach at Nevada. Bruce spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach to Nevada alum John Savage at UCLA, where he helped the Bruins win the 2013 College World Series.
“We found a person of great character in T.J., who fits our community and is a great person and family man,” Knuth said. “He has an outstanding baseball background and has an incredible recruiting reputation.”
Bruce succeeds Jay Johnson, who accepted the head coaching position at the University of Arizona after leading the Wolf Pack to the Mountain West regular season title. The Pack went 41-15 this past season, becoming one of three teams in program history to reach 41 wins in a season.
In his time at UCLA, the Bruins posted a 198-102-1 record and made four postseason appearances, which included two trips to the College World Series in 2012 and 2013. The 2013 CWS title was the first for the Bruins. The Bruins won three Pac-12 Conference titles in his five years and set the school record with 22 conference wins in 2015.
As the team’s recruiting coordinator, he was largely responsible for the Bruins signing the second-ranked class according to Baseball America in the fall of 2012.
Bruce worked with the infield during the championship season in 2013 and the Bruins set a school record with a .980 fielding percentage, which ranked sixth in the nation. In his five seasons, the Bruins have fielded over .971 each year. The 2015 squad posted the second-best fielding percentage in school history at .977. The 2011 and 2012 squads both fielded .976, which is tied for third-best at UCLA.
Under his tutelage, shortstop Pat Valaika earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors and was named to the Rawlings Gold Glove team in 2013.
Prior to UCLA he spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Long Beach State. He helped the 49ers to NCAA Regional appearances in 2007 and 2008. As an undergraduate assistant in 2005, LBSU earned an NCAA Regional berth.
Bruce worked with All-Big West Conference selections Troy Tulowitski (2003-05), Evan Longoria (2005-06), Danny Espinosa (2007), Matt Duffy (2010) and Devin Lohman (2010) while at LBSU. Tulowitski (Rockies), Longoria (Rays), Espinosa (Nationals) and Duffy (Giants) are all currently on Major League rosters.
Bruce was an assistant coach at Cerritos College in 2006 where he helped the Falcons to the Southern California College playoffs. Cerritos finished the season 27-17 and tied for second in the South Coast Conference. Two of his players were selected in the 2006 MLB draft.
As a player at LBSU, he helped the 49ers to within one game of advancing to the 2004 College World Series. The team lost the third game of the Super Regional to Arizona 4-3 in 11-innings. He played alongside Tulowitski at LBSU.
He attended Texas Tech in 2003 following two years at Cerritos College. While at Cerritos, he earned All-South Coast Conference honors in each of his two seasons.
Bruce earned three letters as a prep athlete at St. John Bosco High School and twice was named to the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s “Dream Team” as a shortstop. His junior and senior seasons he was named league MVP and helped the Braves to the league championship his senior season.
Bruce and his wife, Heather have two daughters; Rhowan (4) and Harloe (3) and a son, Jaxon who turns two in October.
Wolf Pack baseball ticket information for 2016 will be available soon. For all Nevada tickets call 775-348-PACK or visit NevadaWolfPack.com.
What they are saying about T.J. Bruce
“We are very excited for T.J. and his opportunity at Nevada. He did a very good job at UCLA and we look forward to following him in Reno.” – UCLA head baseball coach John Savage
“T.J. Bruce is a tremendous hire for the University of Nevada. When I heard Jay had left for Arizona, my first thought was T.J. was the perfect man for this job. He was great to my son and my family through his recruiting process to UCLA. I knew that he was going to be in good hands there, and a big reason was T.J. His baseball knowledge is off the charts and leadership skills will keep Nevada on a great path going forward that Jay built.” – Reno Aces Manager Phil Nevin