UCLA has gotten maximum results at the College World Series out of near-minimum offensive effort.
The Bruins won their second 2-1 game in Omaha on Tuesday, this time disposing of North Carolina State before 25,543 at TD Ameritrade Park to take command of Bracket Two.
The four runs are the fewest a team has scored to produce two wins since metal bats were first used in 1974. Overall, it's the second-fewest runs a team has scored in winning its first two games. Arizona State opened the 1972 CWS with 2-1 and 1-0 wins.
“It's Bruin baseball,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “Sometimes it's grueling. It's tough to watch from outside the dugout, but our kids hung in there and they persevered.”
The style fits perfectly in a CWS that had produced just two home runs and a collective .249 batting average after eight games. UCLA (46-17) scored its runs in Sunday's 2-1 win over Louisiana State on a sacrifice fly and a fielding error.
Tuesday, the Bruins erased a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Kevin Kramer dinked a single into center field with the bases loaded. That tied the game at 1, and the Bruins got the eventual game-winning run on a wild pitch by reliever Grant Sasser.
UCLA came into the CWS ranked 253rd out of 296 Division I teams with a .251 batting average.
“We're not going to put up any gaudy offensive numbers,” Kramer said. “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 these guys will take us a long way.”
Adam Plutko, James Kaprielian and David Berg dominated LSU's dangerous lineup on Sunday, holding the Tigers to five singles. Tuesday, Nick Vander Tuig and Berg teamed up to hold the Wolfpack (50-15) to five singles.
Vander Tuig, a junior right-hander taken in the sixth round of the recent draft by San Francisco, improved to 13-4 by allowing four hits, striking out six and walking none in seven innings.
“I just try to make pitches and stick to the same approach I've had all year,” Vander Tuig said. “Pitch in the zone, pitch out of the zone and try to make the hitter swing at my pitches instead of swinging at his pitches.”
Vander Tuig retired 12 straight North Carolina State batters after Trea Turner put the Wolfpack ahead 1-0 with an RBI single in the third. Grant Clyde stopped the streak with a two-out single, but a ground ball got Vander Tuig out of the inning.
“He didn't miss a spot unless he wanted to,” Turner said. “The only time he missed was up and he did it on purpose. He pitched very well.
“Then, obviously, Berg is Berg. He's a stud. He doesn't miss very many spots, either. His stuff was about unhittable because it sinks so much. They both did a great job.”