Vander Tuig propels UCLA past NC State with 2-1 victory in Game 8
OMAHA, Neb. -- Nick Vander Tuig scattered four hits during seven-plus innings and UCLA produced just enough offense to defeat NC 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.
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 against LSU and now is 17-2 in one-run games.
"It's Bruin baseball," coach John Savage said. "Sometimes it's grueling, and it's tough to watch, I'm sure. Our kids hung in there. We were opportunistic. It's like walking a tight rope, that's for sure."
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.
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.
"It's more a mentality for us, taking advantage of opportunities," Kramer said. "We're not going to put up any gaudy numbers. It does get a little frustrating at times, but when you have great pitchers like this, we know we can put up a couple of runs and play defense because we know these guys will take us a long way."
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. 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.
"UCLA's going to give you absolutely nothing, and they didn't,'' Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said. ''We fought hard. We played hard. We played pretty well. Their pitcher kept hitting the spots."
"That's about as good as I can hit a ball right now,'' Turner said. ''Unfortunately, it fell a few feet short. That could have been the difference in the game."