UCLA got the best of Konner Wade when they took on Arizona in April, knocking him out after just three innings, but Sunday night at the College World Series was Wade's night. He was absolutely dominant, working his two-seam fastball inside and out all game in a complete game shutout. The Bruins mustered just five hits against Wade as the Wildcats came away 4-0 winners to advance to the bracket final, while UCLA was been bumped to the loser's bracket and has to win three straight games to get to the Championship Series.
Nick Vander Tuig was very strong for the Bruins, showing the same form that saw him dominate his starts in the Regionals and Super Regionals, with the exception of one stretch in the fourth inning and that stretch doomed him. He gave up five straight hits, which accounted for four runs and that was that. The right-hander only allowed four runs on six hits and struck out eight, but it wasn't good enough to beat Wade. Grant Watson retired the only batter he faced and David Berg rounded things out with 1.1 perfect frames, but it was too late by then.
Nobody on the UCLA roster reached base twice in the game, with all five hits spread out among five batters and nobody drawing a walk or getting hit by a pitch. It was a truly masterful performance by Wade and on this night, with Wade pitching the way he did, nobody was going to beat Arizona.
Early on, Vander Tuig matched Wade pitch for pitch. Wade sat the Bruins down in the top of the first and Vander Tuig sat the Wildcats down in the bottom of the first. That continued in the second and third innings as well, as both pitchers looked unhittable.
A one-out single by Johnny Field in the fourth inning put a man on base for the first time all game, but the Wildcats weren't done then. Two more singles followed and Arizona had the bases loaded for Robert Refsnyder and the Wildcats' number five hitter Seth Mejias-Brean came through, roping a two-RBI single for the first runs of the game. Bobby Brown followed that up with a double to right, scoring two more runs and Arizona was up 4-0.
Five straight hits and four runs was all that Wade would need. He did surrender three straight singles with two outs in the fifth, but Kevin Williams popped up to end the inning and that was it - the Bruins wouldn't really threaten again.
UCLA picked up two more hits in the game a two-out base hit by Cody Keefer in the sixth and a pinch-hit one-out single by Chris Keck in the eighth, but neither even made it to second.
Nothing at all was going to derail Wade on Sunday. He has a devastating two-seam fastball that runs and dives, but earlier in the year he struggled to command it. He didn't command it when UCLA beat him up in April, but he has been a completely different pitcher of late and showed it in Omaha. He worked the black on both sides of the plate, up and down, and never really gave UCLA a chance as Arizona picked up a key win that has them just one win away from the Championship Series.
UCLA will return to action on Tuesday at 6 pm PT in an elimination game against Florida St. If they win that then they will have to beat Arizona on Thursday and Friday or they are going home.