UCLA One Win Away

Nick Vander Tuig

The UCLA baseball team, which is 4-0 in Omaha, will look to close out the College World Series tonight against Mississippi State...

One more win is all that stands between UCLA and its first national championship in baseball.

Following a 3-1 defeat of Mississippi State Monday night, the Bruins will look to close out the College World Series with another win over the Bulldogs tonight in Omaha, Nebraska.

If UCLA does pull off the win, it will provide the finishing touches for what has been an improbable run in Omaha. Despite batting less than .200 as a team, UCLA has used excellent pitching and defense, along with some opportunistic offense, to eke out wins over North Carolina, LSU, North Carolina State, and now Mississippi State. In those games, the Bruins have allowed a total of just four runs.

Tonight, UCLA's Nick Vander Tuig (13-4, 2.31) will take the mound hoping to finish the series and avoid a rubber match on Wednesday. Mississippi State, which has taken a non-traditional approach to the usual pitching rotation, will likely use a starting pitcher for two to three innings and then turn to the bullpen.

UCLA will likely look to use the same game plan that has carried the team thus far, using the pitcher-friendly confines of TD Ameritrade Park as a 10th man. With home runs essentially negated by the stadium, UCLA's small ball approach has proved to be, oddly, a near-dominant force throughout the last week.

After last night's win, UCLA is officially at a new high water mark for the program, having never been this close to a championship. Three years ago, the Bruins made the finals but were swept by South Carolina. Last year, UCLA made the College World Series but did not advance out of bracket play.

If the series does go until Wednesday, UCLA would likely pitch Grant Watson, whose last game was an impressive win over North Carolina on Friday to advance to the final series.

First pitch will be at 5:00 PM and the game will be televised live on ESPN.

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