OMAHA, Neb. — Never has a team swinging metal bats produced so few runs through two College World Series games yet found itself in such an enviable position.

OMAHA, Neb. — Never has a team swinging metal bats produced so few runs through two College World Series games yet found itself in such an enviable position.

These UCLA Bruins are proving that in this day and age of college baseball, pitching and defense, more than ever, can be a winning formula.

It showed again Tuesday night in the Bruins' 2-1 victory over North Carolina State. That, by the way, was the same score of UCLA's Sunday night win over LSU.

"It's Bruin baseball," coach John Savage said. "Sometimes it's grueling, and it's tough to watch, I'm sure. Our kids hung in there. We were opportunistic. It's like walking a tight rope, that's for sure."

The Bruins' four runs so far are the fewest by a team that won its first two games in Omaha in the metal-bat era. The previous record was six, by Eastern Michigan in 1976 and South Carolina in 1977.

Arizona State scored three runs while winning its first two games in 1972, but that was in the days of wood bats. Metal was introduced in 1974.

UCLA (46-17) scored its runs against NC State (50-15) in the fifth inning using two walks, two singles and a wild pitch.

"It's more a mentality for us, taking advantage of opportunities," said Kevin Kramer, who hit the tying single. "We're not going to put up any gaudy numbers. It does get a little frustrating at times, but when you have great pitchers like this, we know we can put up a couple of runs and play defense because we know these guys will take us a long way."

The Bruins showed up at the CWS with a .251 batting average that ranked 253rd out of 296 Division I teams. After two games here, the average has dropped to .249.

But here they are, one victory away from next week's best-of-three finals. The Wolfpack will play an elimination game against North Carolina on Thursday. The winner of that game will face UCLA on Friday. The Bruins would have to lose Friday and again Saturday to not make it to the finals that start next Monday.

The big pitching effort against the Wolfpack came from Nick Vander Tuig, who allowed four hits over seven-plus innings. He also tagged out a runner at the plate to keep the Wolfpack from adding to a 1-0 lead in the third inning.

North Carolina 4, LSU 2

Home runs are few and far between at the College World Series these days, which made Brian Holberton's first-inning shot all the more important for North Carolina.

Holberton staked freshman starter Trent Thornton to a two-run lead before he even took the moun, and No. 1 national seed Carolina went on to beat LSU 4-2 in an elimination game.

The Tar Heels (58-11) play UCLA in another elimination game Thursday. No. 4-seeded LSU (57-11) went 0-2 in its first CWS appearance since winning the 2009 national title.

Carolina, which lost 8-1 to North Carolina State in its CWS opener, staved off elimination for the third time in the NCAA tournament and remains the only team in the country to not lose back-to-back games this season. The Tar Heels are outscoring opponents 85-30 after losses, and their 58 wins are a school record.

Thornton (12-1) pitched a strong seven innings in his first start since March 27. The 6-foot, 170-pound right-hander worked around two singles and three walks to hold the Tigers scoreless until the fifth and escaped trouble in the seventh thanks to a double play.