UCLA earns second-ever CWS title series berth

For the second time in school history, UCLA will battle for an NCAA baseball championship.

With a 4-1 win over No. 1 seed North Carolina Friday night, the Bruins maintained their spotless postseason record and earned a spot in a best-of-three championship series against Mississippi State starting Monday. Neither team has ever won a baseball title.

In their most unlikely run into Omaha, UCLA — which last played for a title in 2010 — relied on pitching and defense to beat three top-five national seeds in the last two weeks.

Friday’s victory offered more of the same. The Bruins rode a stellar start from sophomore Grant Watson, who allowed just four hits in six scoreless innings. The lefty hadn’t pitched since throwing seven scoreless innings against San Diego on June 2, but coach John Savage said he didn’t hesitate to use Watson instead of ace Adam Plutko on four day’s rest.

“I think he showed the whole country he was ready to pitch on a big stage,” Savage said. Continue reading

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UCLA advances to first back-to-back Super Regional

LOS ANGELES — For much of the weekend, luck carried UCLA. There were hits that bounced off bases, that nicked past outstretched gloves, that swam unseen into the stadium lights.

The Bruins needed no breaks Sunday evening, punching a ticket to the first back-to-back Super Regional in program history. A flurry of early runs coupled with the most dominant pitching performance of the Los Angeles Regional gave UCLA an easy 6-0 win over San Diego and a weekend sweep.

“They’re a juggernaut here at Jackie Robinson Stadium,” USD coach Rich Hill said.

The first inning dragged out to nearly 40 minutes as UCLA battered Toreros starter Max Homick — a lefty who had closed a win over Cal Poly less than an hour ago. Despite facing a lineup loaded with six left-handed batters, the sophomore lasted just 1/3 innings as he saw his season ERA swell by half a run. Continue reading

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