Wolfpack loses 2-1 to UCLA at College World Series
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Just when it looked like North Carolina State got off its best shot against UCLA pitching, Trea Turner's deep fly died a few feet short of the left-field fence.
Nick Vander Tuig and David Berg combined to limit NC State to five hits, and the Wolfpack lost 2-1 on Tuesday night to move within a game of elimination in their first College World Series appearance since 1968.
UCLA (46-17) moved within one victory of next week's best-of-three finals. The Wolfpack (50-15) will play North Carolina on Thursday. The winner of that game would have to beat UCLA twice, first on Friday and again on Saturday, to make it to the finals.
NC State beat the Tar Heels 8-1 here Sunday, and the next meeting will be their fifth of the season. The Wolfpack have won three of four.
"What we've got to try to do is get up in the morning and put it behind us,'' NC State coach Elliott Avent said. "The next loss ends the season, and we've got to find a way to go have a good practice tomorrow and come out ready to play on Thursday night.''
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. 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, allowing three hits and two runs in 4 1-3 innings.
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.
Arizona State scored three runs while winning its first two games in 1972, but that was in the wood-bat era. Metal bats were introduced in 1974.
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, and Berg threw to third to get an out.
That brought up Turner, who launched his long ball 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.
"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.''
Berg struck out Jake Fincher on three pitches, then struck out the last two batters in the ninth to end the game.
Jernigan allowed two hits through four innings, but couldn't get out of the fifth. 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.
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. 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.
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