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Bruins return to College World Series

UCLA uses a combination of sacrifice flies, a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball to get back to Omaha.

June 09, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • UCLA's Jeff Gelalich, right, celebrates after scoring on a passed ball during the sixth inning of the Bruins' 4-1 victory over TCU to complete a two-game super-regional sweep on Saturday.
UCLA's Jeff Gelalich, right, celebrates after scoring on a passed… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

UCLA is heading back to Omaha.

The Bruins' 4-1 victory over Texas Christian on Saturday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium completed a two-game super-regional sweep, sending UCLA to the College World Series for the second time in three years.

The eight-team World Series starts Friday at TD Ameritrade Park.

TCU found out that it's difficult to win any game, let alone one on the road against the Bruins, with solo home runs. The Horned Frogs hit two Friday night and lost, 6-2. They hit another Saturday, but that wasn't enough to beat a UCLA team that utilized two sacrifice flies, a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball to close out the series.

UCLA (47-14) swept through a regional and the super regional and will take a nine-game winning streak to Omaha.

The Bruins, seeking their first NCAA baseball title, will be making their fourth appearance in the College World Series. In 2010, UCLA advanced to the championship series but lost to South Carolina.

On Saturday night, the Bruins did all the little things, scoring runs with sacrifice bunts and fly balls, picking off runners, throwing out would-be base-stealers and turning timely double plays.

Nick Vander Tuig (10-3), who gave up only one hit in eight innings and struck out a career-high 11 in a regional victory against New Mexico last week, had another outstanding performance.

The sophomore from Oakdale, Calif., gave up one run and five hits in six-plus innings before David Berg replaced him with a runner on first base. Berg, making his 47th appearance this season, pitched the final three innings.

UCLA, the visiting team, took the lead in the second inning when Trevor Brown hit a triple down the right-field line and then scored on Pat Valaika's fly ball to right field.

TCU (40-22) threatened in the bottom of the second when Jantzen Witte doubled off the left-field fence and advanced to third on Jerrick Suiter's one-out single. But Bruins catcher Tyler Heineman threw out Suiter attempting to steal and Vander Tuig got Josh Gonzales to hit a fly ball to center.

The Bruins increased their lead in the third, Kevin Kramer leading off with a single, moving to third on Beau Amaral's single and scoring on Heineman's safety squeeze. But UCLA failed to further capitalize, Preston Morrison (9-2) getting Jeff Gelalich to ground out with runners at first and second.

TCU pulled to within a run in the bottom half of the inning when Brance Rivera hit a ball over the left-field fence for a homer.

Valaika's one-out triple in the fourth chased Morrison and set the table for Cody Regis, who broke open the game the night before with a three-run double. But Andrew Mitchell struck out Regis and Kevin Kramer to end the threat.

Gonzales' one-out double in the fifth gave TCU an opportunity to tie the score, but Vander Tuig got Rivera to ground out and Keaton Jones lined out to center.

UCLA increased its lead to 3-1 in the sixth on a bases-loaded, two-strike passed ball.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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