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UCLA beats N. Carolina 4-1, advances to CWS finals

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 21, 2013 at 11:56 pm •  Published: June 21, 2013
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — UCLA's route to the College World Series finals has been nothing if not adventurous.

The Bruins, who have been winning in Omaha despite a scuffling offense, got a two-run double from Pat Valaika to build a cushion, and then record-setting closer David Berg survived a rocky ninth inning to finish a 4-1 victory over top-seeded North Carolina on Friday night.

The Bruins (47-17) will begin the best-of-three finals Monday against Mississippi State, which eliminated Oregon State with a 4-1 win in the afternoon.

"I'm proud of our team, but we still haven't accomplished what we came to do," UCLA coach John Savage said. "On to the next round."

Savage, no doubt, is relieved to advance.

The Tar Heels (59-12) twice loaded the bases in the ninth against Berg but came away with only one run, with the game ending on Landon Lassiter's flyout to center.

Berg wasn't his usual dominant self in the Bruins' first two wins, and he really struggled against the Tar Heels.

"I would say he's been pushed," Savage said. "But come on, you get run out there as much as he does, I mean, you're not going to go 1-2-3, 1-2-3. Things are going to happen.

"He's one of the major reasons why we're here. He can screw up every now and then, it's OK."

The elimination of North Carolina, which set a school record for wins, means the Atlantic Coast Conference will go without a national title in baseball again. The last ACC team to win the championship was Wake Forest in 1955.

"The end of the year, it always stinks," Carolina coach Mike Fox said. "What we did in the ninth inning is just indicative of our kids and how we played all year. Just fighting until the very end."

Both starters went six innings, with the Bruins' Grant Watson (9-3) allowing four hits and Kent Emanuel (11-5) giving up five singles and striking out seven.

UCLA opened the CWS with 2-1 victories over LSU and North Carolina State. The Bruins, with eight total runs, matched 1976 Eastern Michigan for fewest by a team in the metal-bat era that won its first three CWS games.

The Bruins scored single runs in the second and sixth innings and made it 4-0 in the seventh on Valaika's double.

North Carolina threatened in the fourth and seventh innings but couldn't push across any runs until Berg, the National Stopper of the Year, came on to start the ninth.

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