UCLA rides strong pitching to victory
Clemson wins rain-delayed opener; FSU ousts Florida
The College World Series kicked into high gear on Monday night, when UCLA beat Texas Christian to get to within one victory of the championship round, Clemson won its opening game delayed a day by rain and Florida State ousted intrastate rival Florida from the tournament.
UCLA rode strong pitching for a second straight game, getting a huge performance from starter Gerrit Cole two nights after Trevor Bauer flummoxed Florida in the Bruins' first-round win.
Cole struck out 13 batters and took a one-hitter into the seventh inning, and Cody Regis and Jeff Gelalich supplied the offense with a home run apiece for UCLA, which now controls Bracket 1 and has three days off before its Friday meeting with the winner of the TCU-Florida State elimination game that will be played Wednesday.
"This team is on a mission," UCLA coach John Savage said. "This team feels pretty good about themselves. We want to compete. ... We have three days off, but we're still in position to get after it again on Friday. But I'm very proud of this team."
Clemson didn't get an extra-base hit but still worked to a 6-3 victory over Arizona State in the early game, and Florida State weathered a late rally to take an 8-5 victory over the Gators.
Both games had exciting moments and star power involved in the end result.
Clemson used 14 hits -- all singles -- to beat the Sun Devils and Seth Blair, the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year who went into Monday's game with an immaculate 12-0 record.
And in the Florida State game, Mike McGee hit a key home run and later came back to earn a dramatic save.
Blair, selected 46th overall by the Cardinals in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, walked four of the first 12 batters he faced and went on to post a career-high walk total (five). Arizona State had posted a 16-1 record in Blair's 17 previous starts, and the Sun Devils will go into their next game with the knowledge that the team hasn't lost back-to-back games all season.
Casey Harman got the key win for Clemson, holding Arizona State to one run on three hits in the first five innings. Harman allowed another run in the sixth and was removed with the bases loaded in the seventh. Alex Frederick got out of that jam and only allowed one run to score, and then he worked perfect innings in the eighth and ninth to earn his third save of the season.
"Just because we're in the winner's bracket doesn't mean that the tournament's over," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "We still have to go out and compete and we've still got to go out and we have to win tomorrow and we have to play Oklahoma, who is feeling as good as we're feeling right now. ... But every day's a new day and you can take the confidence."
The Seminoles, meanwhile, needed McGee to make a difference on Monday night. The left fielder punched a three-run home run in the third inning to break a tie and then watched as Florida built a three-run rally in the ninth. McGee came in to pitch and put two runners on to load the bases, but then he got Mike Zunino to hit into a game-ending double play.
"It's great to end the game," McGee said. "It's great when you get the save. I like to be in control at the end, but hitting the home run, it's the best feeling there is."
Clemson will play next against Oklahoma, a 4-3 winner in its opening game in Omaha, while Arizona State faces an elimination game against South Carolina on Tuesday.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.