OMAHA, Neb. — Brian Holberton homered, freshman Trent Thornton pitched a strong seven innings and No. 1 national seed North Carolina extended its stay at the College World Series with a 4-2 victory over LSU on Tuesday.
The Tar Heels (58-11) play North Carolina State in an elimination game Thursday. The No. 4-seeded Tigers (57-11) went 0-2 in their first CWS appearance since winning the 2009 title.
Holberton's 12th homer of the season staked the Tar Heels to a 2-0 lead in the first inning against starter Cody Glenn (7-3), and Colin Moran singled to make it 3-0 in the third.
Thornton (12-1) worked around two singles and three walks to hold the Tigers scoreless until the fifth.
Leading 4-2, Thornton walked Christian Ibarra to start the eighth and was relieved by Chris McCue.
McCue hit Sean McMullen in the arm with a 2-and-2 pitch to load the bases with two out. Then Mark Laird, who had a double and four singles in his first eight CWS at-bats, flied out to short left.
McCue worked a perfect ninth for his second save.
"We certainly are happy to have survived this one," Tar Heels coach Mike Fox said. "I thought the home run by Brian was really crucial for us, just kind of let the air out a little bit and let us play with a lead, something we seemed to haven't done in a while."
LSU scored three runs in two CWS games. National freshman of the year Alex Bregman, who was batting a team-leading .374, was 0-for-8. Raph Rhymes, batting .337, was 0-for-9 in Omaha and Tuesday stranded eight runners. Christian Ibarra, batting .311, finished the season hitless in his last 22 at-bats.
UCLA 2, N.C. STATE 1: Nick Vander Tuig allowed four hits over seven-plus innings and the Bruins (46-17) produced just enough offense to defeat the Wolfpack (50-15). UCLA moved within one victory of next week's best-of-three finals. UCLA used two walks, two singles and a wild pitch to scratch out a couple of runs and go up 2-1 in the fifth. Two innings before, Vander Tuig tagged out a runner at the plate to keep the Wolfpack from adding to a 1-0 lead. David Berg came on after Vander Tuig gave up a leadoff single to Bryan Adametz. Berg worked out of trouble in the eighth and earned his NCAA record-tying 23rd save. N.C. State starter Logan Jernigan (1-1) took the loss.
usf: The Bulls have a new leader for athletic fundraising efforts, hiring Ohio University's Jim Harris as senior associate athletic director as well as associate vice president for development. Harris, 33, spent four years at Ohio, where he helped secure a $10 million lead gift toward an athletic facility; while at Indiana, he helped efforts to build a $45 million North End Zone facility and a $25 million basketball facility.
basketball: Alabama starting guard Trevor Lacey, who led the Tide in 3-pointers, transferred to North Carolina State. He will sit out this season and have two years of eligibility. … Georgetown forward Greg Whittington, who played little last season because of academic issues, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and it's not clear when he'll return.
Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.