UCLA earns trip to College World Series
Story courtesy of UCLA Athletics
LOS ANGELES – Nick Vander Tuig pitched six solid innings as the UCLA baseball team defeated TCU, 4-1, before 2,135 at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Saturday night to to advance to the College World Series for the second time in three years.
Vander Tuig (10-3) secured his sixth victory in seven starts, as UCLA (47-14) extended its winning streak to nine games and won the NCAA Los Angeles Super Regional. The sophomore right-hander limited the Horned Frogs (40-22) to one run and five hits, recording five strikeouts and one walk.
The Bruins earned their fourth trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., after David Berg pitched three scoreless innings in relief to secure his first career save.
"I'm so proud of our program," UCLA head coach John Savage said. "I'm proud of our players, their accomplishments, their hard work, dedication and resiliency. That junior class is special. They will go down as one of the best classes in the history of the school."
UCLA never trailed in its victory on Saturday evening, scoring one run in the top of the second and third innings to lead, 2-0, before TCU's Brance Rivera belted a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the third.
The Bruins scored their first two runs on a sacrifice fly to right field by Pat Valaika in the second inning and a squeeze bunt executed by Tyler Heineman in the third inning.
Vander Tuig allowed two hits through the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and exited the game in the bottom of the seventh after walking the leadoff hitter on five pitches.
Berg needed 32 pitches through the final three innings. The freshman right-hander induced a game-ending groundout up the middle, before a wild celebration ensued on the infield as UCLA's players dogpiled on the mound.
"It feels really similar [to 2010]," said junior Trevor Brown, who went 2-for-4 with one run. "We had really good chemistry my freshman year, and good leadership, and this team is similar to that. We all get along great. I feel really blessed that this team has the opportunity to go to Omaha."
TCU's Kyle Von Tungeln was the only Horned Frog player to record at least two hits, going 2-for-4.
Starting pitcher Preston Morrison (9-2) absorbed the loss, surrendering two runs and four hits in 3.1 innings. Andrew Mitchell allowed two runs (both unearned) and three hits in 3.2 innings of relief.
"We chipped away," Savage said. "It's a difficult game for us. We don't blow anybody out, we just hang around. We had eight hits, four runs, and we made everything count."
UCLA will return to action at the College World Series against either LSU or Stony Brook on Friday, June 15. The complete College World Series bracket will be finalized upon the conclusion of all NCAA Super Regional pairings (either Sunday or Monday).
NOTES: David Berg pitched in his nation-leading 47th game, a total that is tied for second place among the NCAA's all-time single-season appearances list (Division I level) … Berg has pitched in 21 of the Bruins' last 22 games … UCLA's 47 wins this season rank second in school history to the Bruins' 51 wins from 2010 … UCLA has outscored its opposition, 33-9, in five NCAA postseason games this month … the Bruins have won 16 of their last 17 ballgames … UCLA improved its record to 4-1 in the all-time series against TCU – all five games have been played in the postseason within the last three seasons.