UCLA Bests UNC 12-2 to Reach Regional Final
LUBBOCK, Texas – No. 21 UCLA scored 10 unanswered runs to start the game and senior righty Zach Pettway delivered a complete-game gem to defeat North Carolina 12-2 on Sunday afternoon, advancing to the Lubbock Regional Final against (1) Texas Tech and eliminating (3) UNC from the tournament.
The Bruins (37-19) will face the Red Raiders later today, needing to defeat the hosts in two straight games to advance to the Super Regional round. Texas Tech can advance with a win either tonight or on Monday afternoon.
UCLA took control over the Tar Heels (28-27) early on Sunday, posting five runs in the top of the first and going on to take a 10-0 lead by the middle of the fourth.
Every starter had at least one hit in the game for the Bruins, including three-hit days for junior shortstop Matt McLain (who has seven hits so far in the Regional) and junior third baseman Jake Moberg (matching a single-game career-high). Junior catcher Noah Cardenas also continued his hot weekend with a two-hit, three-RBI afternoon.
UCLA peppered the Tar Heels with six singles en route to a five-spot in the first. Left fielder Kevin Kendall started it off by ripping the very first pitch of the game into right field before UCLA, following a one-out McLain walk, strung together four consecutive singles to plate five runs and chase UNC start Connor Ollio from the game.
Though no more runs would score in the frame after Ollio departed, Kendall picked up his second base hit of the inning and UCLA ultimately sent 11 batters to the plate. It was the second-most runs scored by the Bruins in a first inning this year (8 vs. Loyola Marymount, Mar. 23).
Freshman center fielder JonJon Vaughns continued the onslaught with an opposite-field solo home run in the third. The Bruins then pulled away with a four-spot in the fourth, with a JT Schwartz sac fly preceding three consecutive RBI singles from Moberg, Cardenas, and Vaughns.
Staked to a big lead, UCLA senior starter Zach Pettway did plenty to keep his team way ahead.
With bullpen preservation at a premium during Regionals, Pettway delivered his first career complete game performance, allowing just two earned while striking out nine.
Pettway was strong from start to finish.
He allowed just one hit his first time through the order, and then faced just one over the minimum from the start of the fifth inning through the end of the game.
The Long Beach native turned in plenty of efficient innings, including an eight-pitch bottom of the first and a six-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth. After getting touched for two runs in the fourth, he responded by allowing just a pair of singles the rest of the way.
His nine strikeouts were the second-most for him in a start this year, and it was the 10th time in 15 appearances that he allowed one walk or fewer (he had just one against UNC).
Pettway improved his record to 3-5 with the win.
Stay tuned to @UCLABaseball on Twitter for all team updates.