This is how they love to play.
The Bruins haven’t dominated this season, but that hasn’t stopped the team from reaching the College World Series for the third time in four years. Upon arrival, coach John Savage’s squad showed that small ball works just fine in Omaha too.
Jumping on two errors by No. 4-seeded LSU, UCLA scraped through its CWS opener Sunday evening with a 2-1 victory. The Bruins handed Tigers starter Aaron Nola his first loss of the season, scoring unearned runs in the sixth and eighth inning.
UCLA got leadoff batters on base in each of the game’s last six frames, inching back from a one-run deficit as LSU made uncharacteristic mistakes. In the sixth inning, Brian Carroll advanced to second base on a bunt when Tigers catcher Ty Ross overthrew first; he scored two at-bats later on Eric Filia’s RBI flyout.
Facing two outs in the eighth, Filia connected for what looked like a routine groundout — until All-American shortstop Alex Bregman bobbled the ball. UCLA’s right fielder safely tapped first, and freshman Christoph Bono rounded home from second.
The Bruins are now 16-2 in one-run games. The will play North Carolina State on Tuesday at 5 p.m. PT (ESPN2).
“I think we’re in a good place offensively,” Savage said before the team left Los Angeles. “Our guys are having quality at-bats. We talk about passing the baton. We talk about getting the next guy. Having tough at-bats, being a tough out.”
Bruins righty Adam Plutko filed his usual start, forcing 13 flyouts in his sixth career postseason victory. Freshman reliever James Kaprielian retired three straight batters in the eighth, opening the stage for closer David Berg’s 22nd save of the season.
With two outs, Berg threw straight balls before forcing a full-count flyout to end the game — putting himself one save shy of tying the Division I single-season record.