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UCLA is able to hold off Wolfpack

Bruins need only one more victory to reach College World Series final after 2-1 win over North Carolina State.

June 18, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA's Nick Vander Tuig, left, tags out N.C. State's Jake Armstrong at home plate during the third inning.
UCLA's Nick Vander Tuig, left, tags out N.C. State's Jake Armstrong… (Ethan Hyman / MCT )

It was Nick Vander Tuig's turn to walk the tightrope, which UCLA starting pitchers seem to find themselves on every game.

The runs will come at some point … somehow. All a guy has to do is be near-perfect. Vander Tuig obliged.

The Bruins were left one victory from the College World Series final after beating North Carolina State, 2-1, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on Tuesday. Vander Tuig did his part, pitching seven-plus innings and giving up only one run.

"We're not going to put up gaudy numbers; it's more a team effort," third baseman Kevin Kramer said. "It does get a little frustrating at times. But with pitching like that, we know if we put up a couple runs and play good defense, it can take us a long way."

The Bruins found two runs in the fifth inning. Closer David Berg got the final six outs for his 23rd save, tying the NCAA single-season record held by Austin Peay's Tyler Rogers and USC's Jack Krawczyk.

"It's Bruins baseball," Coach John Savage said. "It's who we are. It's grueling. It's tough to watch, I'm sure."

The Bruins (46-17) will await the winner of Thursday's game between North Carolina State and North Carolina. The winner needs to beat UCLA twice — on Friday and Saturday — or the Bruins are in the final.

This was a carbon copy of the Bruins' 2-1 victory over Lousiana State on Sunday, only it was Vander Tuig who mesmerized batters instead of Adam Plutko.

Vander Tuig gave up four hits and one run, striking out six.

Trea Turner's single gave the Wolfpack (50-15) a 1-0 lead. Vander Tuig (13-4) retired the next 11 batters. He needed only nine pitches to get out of the sixth and four in the seventh.

"He didn't miss a spot unless he wanted to," Turner said.

Even bad things worked out well for Vander Tuig.

Left fielder Brenton Allen's woeful throw on Turner's run-scoring single produced a helpful carom. Bryan Adametz, who had stopped at third, tried to score. Catcher Shane Zeile fielded the rebound and flipped to Vander Tuig for the out.

The other trouble for the Bruins was in the eighth inning. Turner crushed an eighth-inning pitch against Berg and raised his fist. All he had to celebrate was a long out instead of a three-run home run.

UCLA is batting .250 as a team. The Bruins had five hits against Louisiana State and another five against North Carolina State.

Who needs hits? UCLA scored the game-winning run against LSU on an error. All it took Tuesday was two walks, a dink and a dunk to tie the score. Kramer's bases-loaded flare to center scored Cody Regis. A batter later, Grant Sasser's wild pitch scored Allen for the go-ahead run.

Tar Heels stay alive

Brian Holberton homered, freshman Trent Thornton pitched a strong seven innings and No. 1 national seed North Carolina extended its stay in the CWS with a 4-2 victory over LSU.

The Tar Heels (58-11) play North Carolina State in an elimination game Thursday. The No. 4-seeded Tigers (57-11) were 0-2 in their first CWS appearance since winning the 2009 national title.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Foster reported from Los Angeles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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