The grinding sound Sunday night at TD Ameritrade Park came from a UCLA team that knows what it must do to win.
Pitch, play defense and take advantage of any break is the formula the Bruins used to get to the College World Series. The Bruins know that if they follow that script, as they did to perfection in a 2-1 win over Louisiana State, they'll have a chance for a lengthy stay in town.
Star reliever David Berg, who had to survive a white-knuckle ninth inning before finishing off the win, summed up his team in describing his own performance.
“I didn't have to look pretty,'' he said. “But it was good enough to get the job done.''
UCLA combined a pair of unearned runs, the standout pitching of Adam Plutko and James Kaprielian, and Berg's ninth-inning tightrope act to pull out the Bracket Two victory before 26,344 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.
The victory advanced UCLA (45-17) into a Tuesday night winners game against North Carolina State, which banged around national No. 1 seed North Carolina in posting an 8-1 win in Sunday's first game.
LSU, the national No. 4 seed, dropped into a Tuesday elimination game against North Carolina.
“I thought it would take two or three runs to win this game, and we were only able to scratch across one,'' said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, whose team dropped to 57-10. “So they win and we lose.
“We'll just have to regroup, pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and get ready for North Carolina.''
The Tigers, playing in front of a pro-LSU crowd, got their only run in the fourth inning on Mason Katz's homer off Plutko. UCLA tied it in the sixth with an unearned run off Aaron Nola, then handed the LSU ace his first loss after 12 wins by scoring another unearned run in the eighth.
Nola, who gave up five hits in eight innings, has worked 24 innings in three NCAA tournament games without giving up an earned run. Errors have allowed opponents to score seven times against him in those games.
“I battled as hard as I could until the last pitch,'' Nola said. “Unfortunately, we booted a couple of balls around. We just have to forget about that.''
UCLA came into the highly anticipated matchup hitting .251. UCLA coach John Savage likes to joke that his offense won't spook any opponent, but the Bruins were at their opportunistic best against the Tigers.
UCLA got its leadoff man on base in the last six innings. The Bruins managed to tie the game in the sixth when Brian Carroll bunted for a single and made it to second on catcher Ty Ross' throwing error. A groundout and Eric Filia's sacrifice fly made it 1-1.
The Bruins used another LSU error on Filia's hard-hit, two-out grounder to Alex Bregman to score the winning run. The Tigers' shortstop couldn't come up with the ball, and pinch-runner Christoph Bono raced home from second.