It didn't take 18 innings, but it felt the same anyway. NC State made a number of small mistakes, whether on the basepaths or in the field, and that allowed a punchless UCLA team to scratch across two runs under dubious circumstances. Setting aside the still-fresh bitterness, plenty of credit is due Nick Vander Tuig and David Berg, who were the antithesis of NC State, making few mistakes, and being punished little by those they did make.
The game turned in the fifth, when Logan Jernigan's daredevil act went south, as it usually does. He got the first out with no trouble but followed that up with a walk, single, and another walk to load the bases. Grant Sasser came in but couldn't put out the fire; it was a wild pitch that gave UCLA the game-winning run, and that's just typical of the Bruins in the CWS.
NC State, meanwhile, cost itself runs with a poor read and poor execution. The former came on a moon-ball throw home from left early on that went all the way to the backstop, but because Jake Armstrong hadn't gotten a good jump, it resulted in an out at home. Later on, a bad sacrifice bunt by Logan Ratledge with runners on first and second ended in a force out at third. The bunt was popped in front of the mound, making it difficult for the man at second (Bryan Adametz) to tell if it would drop in or not; that made for an easy out.
What will sting forever, though, is the rocket Trea Turner hit to left field in the eighth. He was going to make up for the bad bunt earlier in the frame. It was a sure three-run homer. Turner had his arm up in triumph as he left the box; he crushed that ball. But it only made it to the track. This ballpark is humbling like that. When it left the bat, I was right with Trea--that thing was out of here. The park held, and now we are facing an elimination game against UNC on Thursday.