UCLA Relies On Familiar Formula To Top NC State, 2-1, At College World Series

USA TODAY Sports

Pitching, defense, just enough hitting and David Berg got the job done again for UCLA.

A 2-1 win was good enough to get UCLA a win in their College World Series opener so they did it again in their second game, upending NC State on Tuesday night in Omaha using the same blueprint they have used all season. They got a great start, this time courtesy of Nick Vander Tuig, backed by some excellent defense and just enough offense before handing the ball to David Berg to wrap things up. It was a prototypical Bruin win, and one that has them one more away from their second trip to the Championship Series in four years.

Vander Tuig limited the Wolfpack to just one run on four hits in seven-plus innings, striking out six without walking any to earn his third win of the postseason. Berg then struck out three to pick up a six-out save and match the single-season NCAA mark with 23 on the season.

Neither team threatened until the third as Vander Tuig and Logan Jernigan traded easy innings, Vander Tuig didn't allow a man to reach in either of the first two innings, while a two-out single was all the Bruins managed off of Jernigan as the expected pitcher's dual lived up to its billing in the early going.

UCLA finally made Jernigan sweat with a two-out double in the third and a walk followed, but both runners were stranded. That wouldn't be the case in the bottom half of the frame, when NC State broke the deadlock.

A leadoff hit by pitch got Vander Tuig in trouble and the Wolfpack made him pay for his miscue. A single and sacrifice bunt moved the runner 90 feet away from the opening run for Trea Turner, who singled to give NC State the 1-0 lead.

Jernigan kept the Bruins down the following inning too, retiring them in order as the Wolfpack grabbed hold of momentum. UCLA's anemic offense looked just that and that slim one-run NC State looked like a good bet to stand up, but the Bruins always managed to find a run or two out of nowhere, which is exactly what they did in the fifth.

A one-out walk got the UCLA rally going and a single by Brenton Allen brought a roar out of the blue clad Bruins in the crowd. After a walk by Brian Carroll to load the bases, the Wolfpack gave Jernigan the hook and in came their ace reliever, Grant Sasser. But Kevin Kramer had no problem with Sasser, dumping the ball into short centerfield for a RBI single to tie the game at a run apiece. UCLA has made the most of walks all season, which they did for their first run, and as is their wont, they also took advantage of a defensive error when Brett Austin let an innocent-looking breaking ball get to the backstop so Allen could scamper home for a 2-1 UCLA lead.

After giving up a run in the third, Vander Tuig found a groove and retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced. He only had one three-ball count in that stretch, a level of efficiency highlighted by a four-pitch sixth inning.

But NC State did finally get to him in the eighth, or at least as close as they would get when Bryan Adametz singled to lead off the inning. That marked the end of Vander Tuig's night and Berg made his way to the mound. A hit by pitch wasn't the start he was looking for, nor was the long drive he gave up to Turner, but Christoph Bono chased it down at the warning track to kill the dreams in the NC State dugout.

An easy ninth, including a pair of strikeouts to end things moved Berg into the NCA record books, but more importantly, it moved UCLA to within one win of a place in the College World Series Championship Series. Again.

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