June 24, 2013
Game 1 Notes
Bruins Take Game 1
By Sean Ryan
(photos by Craig Jackson)
OMAHA, Neb. – Through four games at the
College World Series, UCLA hasn’t tinkered with its
tried-and-true recipe. Mix tremendous starting pitching with
equal parts brilliant defense and situational hitting. Repeat.
The result Monday night in Game 1 of the
Championship Series with Mississippi State was “kind of a Bruin
game” as UCLA coach John Savage called it, code for another
tight win that could have gone either way.
Adam Plutko turned in another solid outing, and
the opportunistic Bruins continued their trend of building a
slim lead and making it stand in a 3-1 win over the Bulldogs
before a crowd of 25,690 at TD Ameritrade Park. The Bruins
(48-17) moved within one win of the program’s first national
championship. The Bulldogs (51-19) will need a win Tuesday night
to force a winner-take-all game in the best-of-three series.
“We dodged some bullets, there’s no doubt about
it,” Savage said.
Plutko (10-3), throwing for the second time in
Omaha, allowed four hits and one earned run and struck out two
in six-plus innings. For the fourth straight game at the CWS, a
Bruins starter went deep into the game and yielded only four
hits – in 26 innings, UCLA starters have allowed 16 hits and
three earned runs.
Not to be outdone, Bruins closer David Berg,
appearing in his 50th game for the second straight season (an
NCAA record), tossed 1.2 scoreless innings for his nation’s best
24th save, which set an NCAA Division-I record. But it didn’t
come easy as C.T. Bradford and pinch-hitter Sam Frost singled to
put runners on first and second with one out. But Berg got a
popout and come-backer to end the game.
“The last 24 saves don’t mean a thing, the only
one that matters is the next one,” Berg said, later adding, “A
record without going out and winning this thing really wouldn’t
be worth it.”
UCLA scored a run in the first despite three
strikeouts from Bulldogs starter Trevor Fitts (0-1) – the second
of which bounced in front of the plate and off catcher Nick
Ammirati for a wild pitch to put Kevin Kramer on first.
After Eric Filia’s double down the left-field
line put runners at second and third, Pat Valaika stroked a
single to center for a 1-0 lead. Fitts minimized the damage by
striking out Pat Gallagher and getting a nice diving play from
first baseman Wes Rea, who flipped to Fitts covering first to
end the frame.
“We know our pitching is phenomenal, and we just
really try to build the momentum,” Filia said. “But we’re really
big on passing the baton…and trying to get momentum through the
In the third, 9-hole hitter Brenton Allen singled
with one out off reliever Chad Girodo and moved all the way to
third when Brian Carroll’s sacrifice – which appeared might roll
foul – was fielded but thrown up the line by Ammirati. Kramer
struck out, before Carroll stole second base, and on a full
count, Filia (2 for 3) singled Allen and Carroll in to give the
Bruins a 3-0 lead.
“He really threw his plus-pitch, which was his
slider, and I was really focusing on that pitch,” said Filia,
who went 2 for 3.
The Bulldogs (51-19) scratched back in the fourth
as Plutko, who had retired nine straight to open the game,
labored through the inning – he entered the frame with 33
pitches and added 31 in the inning.
Alex Detz singled with one out, and after
striking out Hunter Renfroe for the second time, Plutko
surrendered a single to Brett Pirtle (2 for 4) and hit Rea to
load the bases. He then walked Bradford to score Detz, but
escaped the inning when Trey Porter laced a shot to right, where
Filia was there to make the grab and keep the score 3-1.
“The biggest blow in the entire ballgame is bases
loaded and our guy gets the pitch he wants and just absolutely
hammers a line drive into right field and he’s out,” Bulldogs
coach John Cohen said. “That’s how the game works sometimes. You
get the pitch you want. You do everything the right way, and it
doesn’t happen for you.”
Countered Savage: “We pitched out of some
problems. I thought Adam was fairly sharp. He competed. I
thought he was sharp early, ran into trouble in the fourth
inning. I thought that was a good “1” – that could have been
UCLA, per usual, relied on its pitching and
defense from there.
Filia made a tremendous running and leaping grab
before hitting the wall in right to rob Ammirati of extra bases
to open the fifth inning.
“Once he hit it, I just put my head down, saw the
warning track and knew that I had 3½ steps to the fence and
jumped up at the perfect time,” Filia said.
The seventh inning got off to a promising start
for Mississippi State as Porter singled to end Plutko’s night,
and Ammirati walked against reliever James Kaprielian. Demarcus
Henderson failed in two attempts to get a sacrifice down before
hitting a hard grounder up the middle, where Bruins second
baseman Cody Regis backhanded and glove-flipped to shortstop
Valaika to start a 4-6-3 double play.
After Zack Weiss hit Renfroe with one out in the
eighth, Berg entered and induced another 4-6-3 double play, this
one coming off the bat of Pirtle. Before Berg ran into a bit of
trouble in the ninth, Kramer opened the inning with a nice,
hard-charging play on Rea’s bouncer to third.
Girodo was fantastic for the Bulldogs, allowing
three hits and two unearned runs and striking out nine in 7.2
innings. But Mississippi State finds itself needing two wins in
two nights against a hot team that is making all its breaks.
“You know, it’s frustrating: You feel like you
put yourselves in a great chance to win a game over and over
again,” Cohen said. “And they hit balls in spots of the field
that found grass, and we hit balls that found gloves.”