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Purke, Lockwood combine on 4-hitter, TCU wins 6-2

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Matt Purke did it a different way. The result was the same.

The undefeated freshman won his nation-leading and school-record 16th game Friday, combining with Tyler Lockwood to hold UCLA to four singles in a 6-2 victory that kept the Horned Frogs alive at the College World Series.

TCU (54-13) forced a second Bracket 1 title game against UCLA on Saturday, with the winner going to the best-of-three finals beginning Monday.

Purke, with his 97 mph fastball, is a strikeout pitcher if there ever was one. But of the 19 outs he recorded Friday, 14 came on ground balls and just two were strikeouts. It was his fewest strikeouts in an outing of three innings or longer.

"This place is an adventure," Purke said. "You never know what's going to happen here. We've been told since we knew we were coming to expect the unexpected. I was able to go out today a little different than what I'm used to throwing. But hey, I'll take groundball outs all day and no balls in the air. So not bad."

Taylor Featherston hit the biggest of TCU's three home runs, going deep off Garett Claypool to give TCU a three-run lead in the bottom of the seventh after the Bruins (50-15) had closed to 3-2.

The game was advertised as a much-anticipated pitching matchup between Purke, the 2009 first-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers, against UCLA's Rob Rasmussen, the Florida Marlins' second-round pick this year.

But Rasmussen (11-3) struggled with his control early and left in the fifth inning.

"Quite honestly, I just didn't throw enough strikes," Rasmussen said. "Obviously those two walks in the first inning hurt. Like Coach said, we were kind of swimming upstream. From that point on I didn't feel like I had it, but just tried to keep our team in the game as much as possible and just hope that there would be enough for a win."

Purke held Florida State to four hits over seven innings in last Saturday's CWS opener. The 6-foot-4 left-hander, with his signature tilted hat-and-glasses look, held UCLA hitless until Chris Giovinazzo reached on a bunt single with one out in the fifth, drawing a smattering of boos from the TCU-partisan crowd.

Brett Krill's single up the middle drove in Giovinazzo, the first earned run against Purke in 11 2-3 innings.

Purke escaped further damage when, with two outs and two runners on, right fielder Brance Rivera made a running catch on Niko Gallego's slicing fly ball.

Purke left with one out in the seventh, allowing three hits, walking two and hitting a batter. He has a 4-0 record and a 1.98 ERA in the NCAA tournament, recording 29 strikeouts and holding opponents to a .163 batting average.

"I thought Matt had good stuff, but he certainly wasn't as dominant as he has been," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "It's all about pitching and defense regardless of who you're playing or what park you're in. And we did a good job of that today."

Lockwood, who earned his eighth save, came on and walked the bases loaded with two outs before Gallego sent a chopper down the line that third baseman Jantzen Witte grabbed behind the bag. Witte raced to tag the base and appeared to have gotten there first for what would have been the third out. But umpire A.J. Lostaglio ruled that Jeff Gelalich beat him, allowing Cody Regis to score and pull the Bruins within 3-2.

Matt Curry, who hit the game-winning grand slam against Florida State on Wednesday, led off the bottom half with a single before Featherston drove the ball into the left-field bleachers for his eighth homer.

Rasmussen, who pitched a two-hitter in his first career complete game in the super regionals against Cal State Fullerton, threw 34 pitches in the first inning and walked in a run. Rasmussen allowed three runs, six hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings.

UCLA center fielder Beau Amaral went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. He came into the game 6 for 7 in the CWS.

"It's a new ballgame tomorrow, and we feel very, very confident about our team," UCLA coach John Savage said. "We had a misstep, and I think you've got to give a lot of credit to TCU. And we'll get back after it and play Bruin baseball tomorrow."

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