June 7, 2013


Filia, Bruins Top Titans

By Abbey Mastracco

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


FULLERTON, Calif. — The theatrics were out in full force, Friday afternoon at Goodwin Field. It was everything one could have hoped for in a postseason game, complete with a dramatic late-inning comeback, a 10th inning game-winner and a stalemate matchup between an All-American closer and a first-round draft pick.


No. 8 UCLA walked away with the first win of the Fullerton Super Regional – a 5-3 victory over No. 3 Cal State Fullerton, after the hot-hitting Eric Filia sent a hard liner to right field to score the game-winner in the 10th.


“They beat us,” Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook said. “We gave them too much and at this point of the season if you give away too much you lose and that’s what happens.”


Filia, playing near his Orange County home of Huntington Beach, went 4 for 5 with a run and an RBI. The one RBI was a big one.


Cal State Fullerton (51-9) came back to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth with two runs, knotting things up at 3-3. After a scoreless ninth, UCLA (43-17) put two on with one out in the 10th, including Kevin Kramer’s liner that went for a single to right. Fullerton right fielder Austin Diemer looked as though he would be able to make the catch but couldn’t keep it in his glove.


“I don’t think Diemer has ever dropped a line drive in right field and it ended up being the biggest play of the game,” Vanderhook said. “He catches that ball every time.”


Filia, who had three straight singles to all three fields at the point, made the Titans pay. He waited for his pitch – a curveball – which J.D. Davis left up over the middle and grounded it through the right side to score Brian Carroll, who had a one-out line-shot single to left.


“He threw me two high fastballs and I knew he was going to come with a curveball,” Filia said. “He wasn’t really commanding it all game. He left it up and I stayed short with it and drove through it.”


A deep fly to right by Pat Valaika scored Kramer for an extra insurance run.


“We can’t beat anybody 9-1, we played close games all season,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “Tonight’s game was sort of our style of baseball.”


True to form, UCLA’s all-time postseason wins leader Adam Plutko (right) turned in another gutsy performance. Plutko confounded the Fullerton hitters through seven innings, getting in little trouble but always pitching himself right out of it. The junior, who was undrafted as of Friday, gave up just a single earned run on six hits, walking one and blanking two but would not get a decision.


“Our whole plan against Plutko all week was to keep it out of the air and we didn’t do that,” Vanderhook said.


After Plutko’s exit, two of the top arms in a bullpen that is among the best in the nation, gave up two combined runs, allowing the Titans to tie it up at 3-3 in the eighth. James Kaprielian walked Richy Pedroza, the only batter he faced, and David Berg (pictured above) blew his second save of the season when J.D. Davis drove in a run on a grounder and Michael Lorenzen fought off a two-strike pitch from Berg to drive in the tying run on an infield single.


But Berg was able to turn it around.


In a tense bottom of the 10th, Berg’s third inning of work, he gave up two singles with just one out. In an all-out battle of an at-bat with Davis and the count full, Berg threw a bold pitch - a nasty slider - to catch Davis looking.


“With a 3-2, I just thought that was the right pitch to go with there,” Berg said. “I made some good pitches and he fought. I threw [a fastball] right by him. I know 3-2 he was probably going to be looking for another fastball but I have confidence in all of my pitches.”


With his 54th and final pitch, he struck out Lorenzen (2 for 5, RBI), the 38th overall pick in the draft this week, to end the game. Berg earned the win and moved to 7-0 while Davis (1-2) took the loss.


“He grinded it out, that was a lot of pitches,” Vanderhook said. “That was one-on-one and that’s what that game comes to be when you’re at the plate as a pitcher.”


Neither team is looking too far ahead after Friday’s game. There is more baseball left to be played and the stage is set for a highly competitive series.


“It’s one game,” Savage said. “We’re up one game, but tomorrow when you tee it up it’s going to be as competitive as it was tonight.”


(photo by Don Liebig ASUCLA)