May 31, 2013


Plutko, Bruins Get Past Aztecs

By Abbey Mastracco

Special to


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 lead.


“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 later.”


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.”