May 31, 2013
Plutko, Bruins Get Past Aztecs
By Abbey Mastracco
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
LOS ANGELES —
It’s not the same UCLA team as in years past. But
the No. 1-seeded team still got the job done just fine Friday
night at Jackie Robinson Stadium in the Los Angeles Regional,
with a 5-3 win over No. 4 San Diego State.
“That was a tough game,” UCLA coach John Savage
said. “Game 1 of a Regional, you would expect them to compete.
They’re a hot team, they played very well in the Mountain West
Tournament and they continued that type of play tonight. They
gave Adam [Plutko] everything thing he could handle.”
Plutko (8-3), the junior right-hander, lived up
to his big-game reputation for the win, setting a new UCLA
record with five career postseason wins. Plutko has yet to lose
in the postseason.
“He’s had one of the best careers of any Bruins
that’s ever pitched here and really, one of the best postseason
pitchers in school history,” Savage said.
“I think he made some big pitches,” SDSU catcher Jake Romanski
said. “He’s a location guy, he’s not overpowering, but he made
some big pitches.”
Romanski got to Plutko in the fifth inning with a
solo home run, his third of the season. Plutko was far from
dominant, as he had to push past a few shaky innings but made
the right pitches when it counted.
“I felt good in the start, and I’m not really
sure what happened in the middle,” Plutko said. “I definitely
wasn’t my best out there but I grinded. Coach said earlier that
[in the] sixth and seventh, that’s where my experience came in
and I think that’s true.”
Plutko gave up two runs, one earned, in seven
innings of work striking out four. All-American closer David
Berg earned the save for the Bruins (40-17), who will move on to
face No. 2 seed Cal Poly in Saturday’s second game. The Aztecs
(31-30) will engage in a battle for the city of San Diego,
Saturday at 2 p.m.
The five runs for UCLA was a slightly misleading
number. Offense was strung together using small ball, and only
two hits went for extra bases. The Bruins saw their biggest
offensive output in the fourth inning, and it was aided by a
couple quirky plays.
Pat Valaika led off the inning with a single that
hit off the first-base bag and over the head of Aztecs first
baseman Ryan Muno. Kevin Williams laid down a sacrifice bunt,
and then Shane Zeile chopped a ball right at shortstop Evan
Potter. But the ball bounced off the glove of Potter and up out
of his reach.
Cody Regis then walked and Pat Gallagher singled
through the right side to drive in two runs, giving UCLA a 4-1
“I thought my guys hung in there pretty good
tonight,” Aztecs coach Tony Gwynn said. “I thought we swung the
bats well enough but defensively I think we need to tighten the
net up a little bit.”
Gwynn felt the game provided near equal
opportunities for each team but where the Aztecs couldn’t
capitalize, the Bruins did.
“This kind of setting, you got to cash in on
opportunities,” Gwynn said. “When you don’t, for me I was hoping
that wasn’t going to hurt us I was hoping we were going to get
an opportunity to put more runs on the board and we didn’t until
Gallagher led UCLA going 3 for4, driving in two
and scoring one. Eric Filia went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Ryan Doran took the loss for San Diego State and
moved to 8-4 on the season. Romanski swung the hottest bat for
the Aztecs going 2 for4 with two RBI and two runs.
“It’s survival now,” Gwynn said of playing San
Diego, whom the Aztecs swept to open the season. “We would have
loved to have played each other being on the other side, but
when it’s the loser side it’s win or go home. When you’re a
4-seed, I got no complaints I’m happy to be there.”