Kevin Kramer and the University of California, Los Angeles are one win away from becoming College World Series champs.
The Bruins defeated Mississippi State 3-1 in Omaha on Monday, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three NCAA Championship series.
"It was kind of a Bruin game – a tight game, and at the end of the night we were fortunate to come out of it with the win," said UCLA head coach John Savage.
It was Kramer, a 2011 Turlock High School graduate and Sophomore third baseman for UCLA, who first got the Bruins on the board thanks to a heads-up play.
Kramer struck out swinging in the top of the first inning, but reached first base when Mississippi State catcher Nick Ammirati dropped the ball. UCLA Sophomore right fielder Eric Filia doubled in the next at-bat moving Kramer to third, then Junior shortstop Pat Valaika singled Kramer home.
UCLA extended their lead with two more runs in the top of the fourth. Mississippi scored their only run in the bottom half of that inning. Bruins sophomore closer David Berg sealed the game, setting an NCAA single-season record with his 24th save of the year.
"I'm proud of our guys," Savage said. "We hung in there. We put up some zeros, some difficult zeros. We dodged some bullets, no doubt about it."
Kramer finished the game 0-4 with a run and two strikeouts.
The Turlock High product has hit .272 with a .370 slugging percentage this year, batting in the three-hole for the Bruins. He is the only player to have started all 65 games for UCLA.
Kramer was a standout player throughout his high school career, highlighted by his three playoff home runs during Turlock's run to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title game in 2010. He also played on the USA Baseball U-16 Team which claimed the gold medal in Taiwan in 2009.
Kramer was ranked by some experts as a top 100 prospect when he graduated from Turlock High School. He was drafted in the 25th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft by the Cleveland Indians, but turned down the offer to play for UCLA.
UCLA has never won a NCAA baseball championship, but has won 108 other NCAA championships. Mississippi State has never won any NCAA championship.
The Bruins will look to lock up the championship at 5 p.m. Pacific tonight. The game will be televised on ESPN, and online at WatchESPN.com. Game three will be played at 5 p.m. Wednesday if necessary.