UCLA's Cody Regis looks to capture title on third, final trip to Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. — Cody Regis is no stranger to Omaha.

The city and UCLA's senior third-baseman-turned-first-baseman-turned-second-baseman know each other well. Regis is in the midst of his third visit to the College World Series, the only player participating in this year's final eight who can make such a claim. Regis is the only senior on UCLA's roster and each of his three trips to the Midwest marks different points on his roller coaster of a college baseball career.

[Related: UCLA beats North Carolina State 2-1 in College World Series]

Regis was recruited to Westwood by coach John Savage in the fall of 2009 along with 12 other freshmen, four of which were starters when the Bruins fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the final game played at Rosenblatt Stadium, UCLA's deepest-ever run in the Series. Regis led that team in home runs (nine) and was second in RBI (47).

Despite owning two of the top five draft picks in 2011, UCLA failed to get out of its own regional due in large part to a lack of offense. Regis' numbers started to drop. Although the Bruins returned to Omaha in 2012, the plunge continued for Regis during his junior year, the season Major League scouts were watching closely. He hit just .239 with only one home run. Seven of his classmates heard their names called on draft day. Regis was left with no choice but to return to school.

[Related: Fifty-two from Pac-12 taken in 2013 MLB draft]

Now, he's back in Omaha. The numbers haven't improved and he went undrafted again but he's still a vital part of UCLA's team. He is filling in at second base as junior Kevin Williams recovers from injuries and sophomore Kevin Kramer took his spot at third. Regis walked twice in the Bruins' 2-1 win over No. 4 seed LSU on Sunday and helped turn a double play after the Tigers put the leadoff man aboard in the bottom of the ninth. He also went 1-for-3 with a walk in UCLA's 2-1 win over North Carolina State on Tuesday.

He sat down after the win over the Wolfpack to talk about his journey:

Sam Strong: Your college baseball career obviously hasn't gone the way you drew it up. Are you finding a silver lining in that you're in Omaha for the third time?
Cody Regis: It's so worth it. On top of the life lessons I've learned, staying another year and finishing that much more school and coming back for the third time, it's really been a dream come true.

SS: When you learned you weren't drafted, did you tell yourself you're going all in on this trip to the College World Series?
CR: This year was a lot different. I came into this year with a better attitude, not even toward baseball but just toward life in general. I wasn't as disappointed, I guess, but I'm definitely trying to make this the last hurrah.

SS: You're playing second base out of necessity. When you think back to being the starting third baseman here in 2010, did you ever think you would be playing second base in Omaha in 2013?
CR: That definitely isn't even close to what I could have ever thought, but it's all worth it.
SS: What has this whole experience taught you?
CR: It's humbled me and it's given me a better outlook on life. Nothing is handed to you. You have to work for it and if it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be.

SS: When people look at your hitting numbers over your career, many of them point to the new, NCAA-mandated bats that cut power numbers in college baseball during your sophomore year. How much stock do you put into that?
CR: I don't really even look at that stuff. Last year, I got caught up in all that. On top of having a bad year, it made life miserable. I'm not even focused on that now. All I'm focused on is the team and trying to win it.

SS: Do these younger guys look to you for advice?
CR: It seems like it. I would like to think so. I love it. I love seeing all these young guys grow up throughout the year. It's awesome. We're a family so it's just incredible to see them grow up. Anything I can do to help that is just icing on the cake, I guess.

SS: How close are you with the guys you came in with as freshmen?
CR: I'm still really close to all those guys. I'm living with (former pitcher Scott Griggs, currently in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization) during fall quarter.

SS: Do you think they're a little jealous that you're still wearing the blue and gold?
CR: I don't know if it's jealousy. It's more of just Bruin pride. They're loving it. I hear from them almost every night after these games. They're rooting for us. They're excited. They're just as excited as we are after we win. They're calling us fired up and screaming. I don't think it's jealousy, I just think it's excitement.

SS: What's next? Is baseball included in your plans?
CR: I haven't really thought about that much. As of right now, I'm just trying to win it all here, finish up school and after I finish up school, I might see what I can do with baseball. But those are my two priorities right now.

UCLA plays for a shot at the best-of-three championship series Friday at 5 p.m. PT versus the winner of North Carolina-North Carolina State on Thursday.

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