North Carolina’s season ends with 4-1 loss to UCLA
Posted at: 06/24/2013 10:05 PM
By ERIC OLSON
(AP) OMAHA, Neb. - North Carolina made UCLA star closer David Berg reel but couldn’t close the deal.
The Tar Heels twice loaded the bases against the National Stopper of the Year in the ninth inning Friday night but could only push across one run in a 4-1 loss to UCLA at the College World Series.
"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."
The elimination of North Carolina (59-12), 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.
Carolina also became the latest No. 1 national seed to fail to win the championship. The only No. 1 seed to win the title was Miami in 1999, the first year of the current NCAA tournament format.
"Hopefully people feel like we played hard every game and represented college athletics and college baseball the right way," Fox said. "The winning is part of it certainly, but so many other special things went on throughout our season."
Pat Valaika’s two-run double gave UCLA some cushion before Berg survived the ninth.
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."
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.
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 the ninth, and then it wasn’t enough.
Cody Stubbs and Sky Bolte singled, and Berg walked Michael Russell to load the bases. Savage made a mound visit after Berg went 1-0 to Mike Zolk, whose groundout scored Stubbs.
Berg struck out Parks Jordan, and the bases were loaded again when he walked Chaz Frank. When Landon Lassiter’s fly landed in Brian Carroll’s glove, the Bruins’ dugout emptied in celebration.
"I have the same approach every game _ go there and try to get a pitch you can hit and see what happens," Lassiter said, "and we just fell short."
UCLA has held its opponents to two runs or fewer in 31 of 64 games and is 30-1 in those games.
Watson followed strong starts by Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig with one of his own to help send the Bruins to the finals for the second time, and first since they were swept by South Carolina in 2010.
Emanuel, the ACC player of the year and third-round pick of the Houston Astros, came into the game scuffling in the NCAA tournament. He had a 11.40 ERA over his last five appearances and didn’t make it out of the third inning in the Tar Heels’ CWS opener against North Carolina State.
The junior left-hander was solid in his 112-pitch outing. One of the two runs against him was unearned.
UCLA opened the scoring when Cody Regis’s two-out chopper drove in Gallagher in the second. The Bruins added their unearned run in the sixth. Eric Filia’s grounder got past the glove of Carolina first baseman Stubbs, and he scored on Kevin Williams’ base hit up the middle.
Valaika produced some big insurance runs in the seventh, hammering the ball into the left-field corner off Trevor Kelley to drive in Carroll and Filia.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)