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UCLA WINS CHAMPIONSHIP WITH 8-0 WIN OVER BULLDOGS

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 23:35 Published in Sports

 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- UCLA's offense showed up this time, which meant Mississippi State never had a chance.

Eric Filia drove in a career-high five runs, Nick Vander Tuig limited Mississippi State to five hits in eight innings, and UCLA won its first national championship in baseball with an 8-0 victory Tuesday night.

The Bruins (49-17) completed a two-game sweep in the College World Series finals and ended the season with 11 straight wins. The national title is UCLA's NCAA-record 109th in team sports.

"They had a great year," UCLA coach John Savage said, "and it was one of those situations where it was our time."

Adam Plutko, the Bruins' No. 1 starter, was named the CWS' Most Outstanding Player. He beat LSU in the Bruins' first game and was the winner in Game 1 of the finals. He allowed two runs in 13 innings.

Vander Tuig held off the Bulldogs (51-20) when they threatened in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings and recorded his fourth win in the NCAA tournament. Vander Tuig (14-4) struck out six and walked one. David Berg pitched the ninth.

Filia produced runs with a sacrifice fly, squeeze bunt and two base hits as the Bruins collected 12 hits and scored their most runs in 18 games.

"To beat us like they did today, and to do what they did to our pitching staff, which I think is one of the best in the nation," Bulldogs right fielder Hunter Renfroe said. "We didn't do what we were supposed to do. We didn't put up run support like we should have."

Bulldogs starter Luis Pollorena (6-4) lasted one inning. Jonathan Holder, the Bulldogs' closer, came on with one out in the fourth inning and went the rest of the way.

UCLA allowed four runs in five games to set a CWS record for fewest in the metal-bat era that started in 1974.

The Bruins' .227 batting average in the CWS also was the lowest since teams went away from wood bats. The Bruins' 19 runs in five games were the fewest by a champion since the CWS went to eight teams in 1950.

"It was a team effort all the way through," Savage said. "It was guys believing in each other and being great teammates. People didn't believe in us all season long. We kept battling, and it's a team win."

After Arizona's title last year, the Pac-12 has now won two straight and has 17 in all in baseball, most of any conference.

Mississippi State was playing for its first national title in a team sport and was the sixth straight Southeastern Conference team to make it to the finals.

"What we did was knock on the door, and UCLA has knocked on the door before and they knocked down the door, and we didn't do that," Bulldogs coach John Cohen said. "It bothered me we didn't play well the last two days. We played 15 postseason games and didn't play well in two of them."

Vander Tuig, who won his fourth straight postseason start, gave up just one earned run in 21 1-3 innings over his last three starts.

The Bruins won the title in their third CWS appearance in four years and fifth all-time. They had made it to the finals in 2010 and were swept by South Carolina. Last year they went 1-2 in Omaha.

This season they finished third in the Pac-12, behind Oregon State and Oregon, and then got hot in the postseason.

They made magic with an offense that started Tuesday 264th out of 296 teams in batting (.247) and 215th in scoring (4.7 runs per game), but among the national leaders in sacrifices, walks and hit batsmen.

They won three straight at home in regionals and went on the road to upset No. 5 national seed Cal State Fullerton in a two-game super regional.

Once they got to Omaha, the Bruins made themselves at home in spacious TD Ameritrade Park. UCLA produced just enough offense to support its superb pitching and defense in bracket play, and again in Game 1 of the finals.

The pitching and defense showed up again in Game 2, and this time so did the offense.

"We've been capable all season long," Savage said. "We have good players. I said that all along. They started to believe, and they used the whole field. Fortunately, we had some hits tonight."

UCLA was up three runs early - a lead that has been insurmountable for every team in this year's CWS.

The Bruins, as usual, were creative and opportunistic. They used a hit batsman, a bunt that produced two Mississippi State errors, and Filia's sacrifice fly to lead 1-0 in the first. It was 3-0 in the third after Brian Carroll scored on a safety squeeze bunt by Filia and Pat Valaika's RBI single.

The Bulldogs called on their closer, Jonathan Holder, with one out in the fourth after Cody Regis singled in another run. Holder hit Carroll to load the bases, and another sacrifice fly made it 5-0.

"As far as Mississippi State goes, they'll be back," shortstop Adam Frazier said. "Coach Cohen is doing the right things, the coaching staff has it going in the right direction. I trust coach Cohen will get it to what it is supposed to be, and I've got a feeling this team will be back in the future."

BLACKHAWKS STAGE LATE RALLY TO WIN STANLEY CUP

Monday, 24 June 2013 23:01 Published in Sports

BOSTON (AP) -- An NHL-record unbeaten streak to start the lockout-shortened season.

Three straight victories to clinch the title.

From beginning to end, the Chicago Blackhawks skated away from the rest of the league.

Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored 17 seconds apart in the final 1:16 and the Blackhawks struck quickly to win Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final 3-2 on Monday night for their second NHL championship in four seasons.

"I still can't believe that finish. Oh my God, we never quit," said goalie Corey Crawford, who made 23 saves. "I never lost confidence. No one in our room ever did."

Jonathan Toews returned from injury to add a goal and an assist in the first finals between Original Six teams since 1979. Patrick Kane, whose overtime goal in Game 6 beat Philadelphia to win the 2010 championship, was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as this year's playoffs MVP.

"In 2010, we didn't really know what we were doing. We just, we played great hockey and we were kind of oblivious to how good we were playing," said Toews, who scored his third goal of the playoffs to tie it 1-1 in the second period, then fed Bickell for the score that tied it with 76 seconds to play. "We played great hockey and we were kind of oblivious to how good we were playing.

"This time around, we know definitely how much work it takes and how much sacrifice it takes to get back here and this is an unbelievable group," Toews said. "We've been through a lot together this year and this is a sweet way to finish it off."

Trailing 2-1, Crawford went off for an extra skater and the Blackhawks converted when Toews fed it in front and Bickell scored from the edge of the crease to tie the score.

Perhaps the Bruins expected it to go to overtime, as three of the first four games in the series did.

Because they seemed to be caught off-guard on the ensuing faceoff. Chicago skated into the zone, sent a shot on net and after it deflected off a player and the post it went right to Bolland, who put it in the net and started the Chicago celebration with 59 seconds left in the game.

The Blackhawks on the ice gathered in the corner, while those on the bench began jumping up and down. It was only a minute later, when Boston's Tuukka Rask was off for an extra man, that Chicago withstood Boston's final push and pored over the boards, throwing their sticks and gloves across the ice.

The Bruins got 28 saves from Rask, who was hoping to contribute to an NHL title after serving as Tim Thomas' backup when Boston won it all two years ago. The sold-out TD Garden began chanting "We want the Cup!" after Milan Lucic's goal put the Bruins up 2-1 with eight minutes left, but it fell silent after their team coughed up the lead.

The arena was almost empty - except for a few hundred fans in red Blackhawks sweaters who filtered down to the front rows - when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman handed the 35-pound Cup to Toews, who left Game 5 with an undisclosed injury and wasn't confirmed for the lineup until the morning skate.

The Chicago captain skated the Cup right over the crease in which the Blackhawks mounted the comeback and in front of the fans in Blackhawks sweaters who lined the front row behind the net. Toews banged on the glass while the remaining Bruins fans headed up the runways.

He then continued the tradition of handing it from player to player before the team settled to the side of the faceoff circle for a picture with the trophy they will possess for the next 12 months.

"It's unbelievable man," Crawford said. "So much hard work to get to this point. Great effort by everyone on the team."

The Blackhawks opened the season on a 21-0-3 streak and coasted to the Presidents' Trophy that goes to the team with the best regular-season record. But regular-season excellence has not translated into playoff success: Chicago is the first team with the best record to win the Cup since the 2008 Detroit Red Wings.

The Blackhawks went through Minnesota in five games and Detroit in seven, rallying in the Western Conference semifinals from a 3-1 deficit and winning Game 7 in overtime. They got through the defending NHL champion Los Angeles Kings in five games to return to the Cup finals, where Boston was waiting.

The Blackhawks won the first game at home in three overtimes but dropped Game 2 - another overtime - and fell behind 2-1 in the series when it returned to Boston.

But since then, it's been all Chicago.

The tightly contested finals - with three games going a total of five overtimes - may help fans forget the lockout that shortened the season to 48 games and pushed back the opener to Jan. 19. That left the teams still playing ice hockey on a 95-degree day in Boston on June 24, matching the latest date in NHL history.

Fans in their Bruins sweaters filtered into the air conditioned TD Garden to see the last game in Boston for the year with the hope there would be one more in Chicago: a seventh game just like two years ago, when the Bruins rallied from a 3-2 deficit, then won in Vancouver for their first NHL championship since 1972.

Both teams were bolstered by the return of star forwards, Selke Trophy winner Toews of Chicago and Patrice Bergeron, who was a finalist for the award given to the top defensive forward in the league. Both returned after missing the end of Game 5, and but only Toews showed up in the box score.

What had already been a physical series continued to take its toll, with Jaromir Jagr - the NHL's active playoff scoring leader - and Andrew Shaw both going to the dressing room during the first period. Jagr's injury was not known, but Shaw deflected a slap shot from Shawn Thornton off his own right cheek and crumpled to the ice, leaving behind a pool of blood when he skated off.

Both returned, but Jagr again disappeared from the Boston bench in the second. Crawford also forced a stoppage of play when his mask came off following a David Krejci slap shot off his shoulder; the Chicago goalie appeared to need a little time to recover, but he stayed in the game.

The Bruins, who never led in Games 4 and 5, took the lead seven minutes into the game when Tyler Seguin gloved a pass from Daniel Paille and controlled it, then backhanded it across the middle to Chris Kelly. He beat Crawford on the glove side to make it 1-0.

But the Blackhawks tied it early in the second when, as a Bruins power play was ending, Toews broke into the Boston zone on the right side. He had Kane in the middle and Andrew Shaw coming out of the box, but didn't need either one, rattling it in off the right post to make it 1-1.

It stayed that way until Lucic put Boston ahead with 7:49 left in the third.

The final series seemed headed for a Game 7 for the sixth time in the last 10 years before Bickell and Bolland turned it around.

"Dave Bolland, what else can you say about that guy?" Kane said. "He just shows up in big playoff games."

WAINWRIGHT LOSES COOL AS CARDINALS LOSE TO RANGERS

Monday, 24 June 2013 04:28 Published in Sports

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Adam Wainwright lost the lead in the seventh, and then he lost his temper.

The St. Louis Cardinals ace strenuously objected to being pulled before Ian Kinsler's go-ahead hit that helped the Texas Rangers complete a soggy three-game interleague sweep with a 2-1 victory Sunday night.

Hearing manager Mike Matheny's assessment that he'd been "laboring" and that it had been "two pretty stressful innings in a row" got Wainwright even hotter.

"He's wrong," Wainwright said after missing a chance to become the National League's first 11-game winner. "You don't want to call your manager out and I would never do that. Laboring is not what I was doing."

After noting Matheny was in charge and criticizing himself for allowing the tying hit, Wainwright (10-5) had more to say on the issue of fatigue. He gave up an earned run in 6 2-3 innings, ending a string of six straight outings of seven innings or longer during which he'd gone 5-1.

"If you think I'm laboring because I went into deep counts, I went into deep counts all day," Wainwright said. "Made good pitches. That's his opinion."

Wainwright said there was no use trying to persuade Matheny to leave him in the game, because the umpires had already been informed of a double switch. He struck out six and walked one.

"No amount of lobbying ... I wasn't going to stay in that game," Wainwright said. "But I mean, no, I didn't want to come out of that game. I felt I was as strong or stronger at the end than I was in the beginning."

He wouldn't say whether he confronted Matheny in the dugout.

"Even if I did, I would never tell y'all that," Wainwright told reporters. "That's something that stays in here."

The finale of Texas' first visit to Busch Stadium since losing Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series, and first time ever in the regular season, was delayed 2 hours and 59 minutes by heavy rain with less than half of a near-capacity crowd sticking around. The first pitch Saturday night was pushed back 1 hour, 6 minutes and was the third rain delay of the Cardinals' 3-4 homestand.

"Well, the other team's dealing with it, too," Matheny said. "It's odd. You don't want to go through the season like this."

Rookie Nick Tepesch had a resurgent outing for Texas, allowing a run on four hits in 5 2-3 innings after surrendering 11 runs in 8 2-3 innings the previous two starts. Kinsler and David Murphy had two hits apiece for the AL West-leading Rangers, who have won five in a row after losing six straight.

The Cardinals, who have the majors' best record at 47-29, were swept for the first time this season and totaled just seven runs.

"I got good pitches to hit," said second-place hitter Carlos Beltran, who was 0 for 4. "Today, I just couldn't do anything with them. The whole series I got pitches right down the middle."

Leadoff man Matt Carpenter homered to start the sixth, singled and walked for St. Louis.

Robbie Ross (4-1) got the last out of the sixth to strand a pair of runners and Joe Nathan worked around two hits in the ninth to earn his third save of the series and 25th overall in 26 chances.

Pete Kozma, whose fielding error at shortstop set the stage for Kinsler's go-ahead hit, lined into an inning-ending double play.

Wainwright retired the first two batters before Murphy doubled off the base of the right-field wall in the seventh and scored on a single by Leonys Martin to chase the Cardinals ace. Reliever Trevor Rosenthal appeared to get the Cardinals out of the inning still tied but Kozma dropped pinch hitter Jurickson Profar's weak pop fly, and Kinsler followed with the go-ahead hit.

Tepesch, a former Missouri star from suburban Kansas City, held the Cardinals hitless before David Freese singled with one out in the fifth. He struck out three and walked two.

The Rangers had two on with one out in the sixth with the heart of the order coming up after Elvis Andrus drew a full-count walk, but Wainwright got Nelson to pop out to shallow left and Adrian Beltre on a foul ball out.

Both teams have Monday off with the Rangers headed to New York to face the Yankees and the Cardinals opening a two-game set at Houston - but both teams apparently had little interest in a postponement Sunday night.

Notes: Rookie LHP Martin Perez gave Rangers starters their first win of the month Saturday. Relievers claimed the first eight, half of them by Neal Cotts. ... Lance Berkman, who helped the Cardinals beat the Rangers in the 2011 World Series, did not play in the series due to knee soreness and because there was no DH in the NL park. Profar didn't start, either, after starting 16 games earlier this month. ... Actor David Guintoli, a St. Louis native who stars on the TV show Grimm, waited out the delay and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

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