Bruins ruin Tar Heels’ title run in College World Series

UCLA got its third outstanding pitching effort in as many College World Series games to defeat North Carolina 4-1 on Friday and advance to the championship series in Omaha, Neb. The Bruins will meet Mississippi State in a best-of-three series beginning Monday.

Grant Watson (9-3) continued the pitching trend for UCLA (47-17). He gave up no runs on four hits in six-plus innings. He walked one and struck out three. When Cody Stubbs led off the seventh with a single, Watson was relieved by James Kaprielian.

Kent Emanuel (10-4) was the hard-luck loser for North Carolina (53-8). He gave up two runs — one earned — on five hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out seven.

This could have been a match-up of two of the most storied programs in college basketball history. But this game was played on the diamond, not the hardwood.

UCLA notched the first run on a two-out single by Cody Regis, scoring Pat Gallagher. But Emanuel wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Brian Carroll.

The way the Bruins’ pitching staff has been pitching in Omaha that easily could have been enough. In their first two games, the Bruins gave up a total of two runs. Their offense, which ranks near the bottom of Division I baseball, scored just enough as they beat LSU and North Carolina State by identical 2-1 scores.

Watson kept the Tar Heels in check as North Carolina never got a runner past second base against him.

The Bruins got some insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Kevin Williams singled in Eric Filia with one out. The Bruins left the bases loaded in the inning, but a two-run lead seemed insurmountable the way UCLA has been pitching in Omaha.

The Bruins scored two more in the seventh off three North Carolina relievers. Pat Valaika’s two-run double scored Carroll and Filia.

North Carolina provided some drama in the ninth off UCLA closer David Berg, who came into the game with 23 saves, a 7-0 record and an 0.85 ERA. Stubbs and Skye Bolt began the inning with singles and Michael Russell followed with a walk. That loaded the bases with no one out and brought the tying run to the plate.

Mike Zolk grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Stubbs. Berg then struck out Parks Jordan. Chaz Frank walked to reload the bases, but Berg got Landon Lassiter to fly out to center to end the game.

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