June 1, 2012

CBI Live: #3 New Mexico 4, #2 San Diego 0

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UCLA’s Plutko Spins Gem

By Abbey Mastracco


action photos by Scott Wu, UCLA Athletics


LOS ANGELES – Creighton’s Anthony Bemboom looked at a called third strike in frustration as Adam Plutko threw up is hands in celebration 60 feet in front of him. Plutko’s catcher embraced him as he stepped off the mound after throwing a complete game two-hitter in No. 1-seeded UCLA’s opening round win over fourth-seeded Creighton Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.


UCLA (43-14) did just enough in the early innings, putting up three runs over the first two innings, to give Plutko the cushion he needed. It was as if the right-hander hit cruise control, pitching efficiently off his fastball in the Bruins’ 3-0 victory. It was a poised performance for a pitcher whose emotions were all over the place.


Just one day prior to making the start, Plutko was attending the funeral of his great grandmother in San Diego. Unable to even attend practice or travel to the ballpark with his team, Plutko took the mound with a heavy heart. But as the game wore on, his demeanor changed.


“It was a lot of fun,” Plutko (left) said.


Plutko admitted the week has been “kind of a whirlwind,” but with family from all over the country nearby for the funeral, they were able to make the short drive up I-5 to watch him get the ball. The result was a performance that baffled the Bluejays and dazzled the crowd of 1,570. Plutko gave up just two hits and struck out seven in his second complete game shutout of the season.


“I thought that was his best outing of the year,” UCLA head coach John Savage said.


“Coach and I talked before the game, and we really wanted to attack them and make them prove they could hit my fastball,” Plutko said. “We just attacked them and went right at them and it kept working so we went back to it.”


While Plutko attacked the Creighton hitters, the Bruins’ hitters took an equally aggressive approach with highly-touted lefty Ty Blach.


With two outs in the bottom of the first, Jeff Gelalich drove in a run with a solidly-hit double to the left-center gap. In the second, Cody Regis sparked another two-out rally with a single up the middle. Kevin Kramer (1 for 3 with a run and an RBI) and Beau Amaral (3 for 4 with an RBI) then drove in runs with back-to-back doubles to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.


“Every pitcher knows it’s easier to pitch with a lead than pitch from behind,” Plutko said.


“That’s something that we talked about a lot in the beginning of the week, that we couldn’t afford to get behind UCLA because of their strong pitching,” Creighton coach Ed Servais said.


Blach (left) then settled himself nicely after getting tagged for three runs, and finished the game giving up just two more hits. The southpaw struck out six in the loss, as he moved to 6-6 on the season.


“I thought both pitchers were as good as advertised,” Savage said. “That’s one of the hottest pitchers in the country. When we saw the 4-seed, we knew we were getting a guy.”


UCLA, ranked No. 2 in the country, will host third-seeded New Mexico Saturday night, while Creighton (26-29) will face No. 2 seed San Diego in an elimination game.


(head shots courtesy of UCLA & Creighton Media Relations Offices)