OMAHA, Neb. — Nick Vander Tuig scattered four hits over seven-plus innings and UCLA produced just enough offense to defeat North Carolina State 2-1 in the College World Series on Tuesday night.
UCLA (46-17) moved within one victory of next week’s best-of-three finals. The Wolfpack (50-15) will play an elimination game against North Carolina on Thursday, the fifth meeting of the teams this season. North Carolina defeated LSU 4-2 in Tuesday’s other CWS game.
UCLA used two walks, two singles and a wild pitch to scratch out a couple runs and go up 2-1 in the fifth. Two innings before, Vander Tuig tagged out a runner at the plate to keep the Wolfpack from adding to a 1-0 lead.
Vander Tuig (13-4) retired 13 of 14 batters heading into the eighth inning. David Berg came on after Vander Tuig gave up a leadoff single to Bryan Adametz. Berg worked out of trouble in the eighth and earned his NCAA record-tying 23rd save.
NC State starter Logan Jernigan (1-1) took the loss.
UCLA opened the CWS with a 2-1 victory over LSU and now is 17-2 in one-run games.
The Bruins’ four runs in two CWS games are the fewest by a team that won its first two games in Omaha in the metal-bat era. The previous record was six, by Eastern Michigan in 1976 and South Carolina in 1977.
Arizona State scored three runs while winning its first two games in 1972, but that was in the wood-bat era. Metal bats were introduced in 1974.
The Bruins’ reputation is as a pitching and defense team that grinds out runs any way it can. They lived up to it Sunday and did again Tuesday.
Jernigan allowed two hits through four innings, but couldn’t get out of the fifth. Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent called on lefty Grant Sasser after Jernigan gave up a single and two walks to load the bases.
Kevin Kramer delivered the tying single. With the bases still loaded, Sasser’s changeup bounced away from catcher Brent Austin, and Brenton Allen scored from third to put UCLA up 2-1.
Vander Tuig set down the first six batters, but the Wolfpack had runners at second and third with one out in third after he hit Adametz and Jake Armstrong singled. Trea Turner singled to drive in Adametz. Armstrong tried to come around from second when Allen’s high throw from left sailed to the backstop. Catcher Shane Zeile ran down the ball and flung it back to the plate, where the covering Vander Tuig tagged out Armstrong.
The Wolfpack threatened against Berg in the eighth. He hit the first batter he faced to put two runners on base. But No. 9 hitter Logan Ratledge couldn’t get a good sacrifice bunt down to move them over, and Berg threw to third to get an out.
That brought up Turner, who launched a deep fly that left fielder Christoph Bono, who entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh, had to go to the warning track to catch over his right shoulder. Berg struck out Jake Fincher on three pitches, then struck out the last two batters in the ninth to end the game.
North Carolina 4, LSU 2
OMAHA, Neb. — Brian Holberton homered, freshman Trent Thornton pitched a strong seven innings and No. 1 national seed North Carolina extended its stay at the College World Series.
The Tar Heels (58-11) play North Carolina State in an elimination game Thursday. The No. 4-seeded Tigers (57-11) went 0-2 in their first CWS appearance since winning the 2009 national title.
Holberton’s 12th homer of the season staked the Tar Heels to a 2-0 lead in the first inning against LSU starter Cody Glenn (7-3), and Colin Moran singled to make it 3-0 in the third.
Thornton (12-1) worked around two singles and three walks to hold the Tigers scoreless until the fifth. Leading 4-2, Thornton walked Christian Ibarra to start the eighth and was relieved by Chris McCue.
McCue hit Sean McMullen in the arm with 2-2 pitch to load the bases with two out. That brought up Mark Laird, who had a double and four singles in his first eight CWS at-bats. But McCue got Laird to fly out to short left field and keep it a two-run game.
McCue worked a perfect ninth for his second save.