An anemic offense and errors almost helped ruin a tremendous pitching performance by Adam Plutko. The freshman was sensational, but because of little run support and then some ninth inning errors he didn't get the win. His start looked wasted, but it proved to be worth the effort as UCLA came through in the final moments. The Bruins had a disastrous top of the ninth, but an exhilarating bottom half of the frame as Cody Regis went from goat to hero with a walk off double that sent the Jackie Robinson into raptures as UCLA took down Washington, 3-2, to finish off the sweep of the Pac-10 series.
From the outset, Plutko was on his game and that was a welcome relief for Bruin fans. The freshman was coming off of the first rough start of his career, getting knocked around for four runs against USC a week ago. Nobody was sure how Plutko would bounce back, having never been in that situation before, but he put all of the blue clad faithful at ease early on. He struck out the first batter he faced and just kept rolling through the rest of his start. By the time his day came to an end he had gone seven innings on 95 pitches, struck out six and allowed only one hit as he completely dominated the Huskies. Mitchell Beacom ran into some eighth inning trouble, but he got out of it to rack up another scoreless inning and while Nick Vander Tuig allowed two ninth inning runs to blow the save, neither run was earned and he eventually picked up the win for his work.
With only four hits in the game and two of those coming in the ninth inning, there wasn't much UCLA offense to speak of. Regis had two of the Bruins' four hits, one of which was a triple as part of an effort that included a RBI and a run. Steve Rodriguez almost had two hits, but one of his hits was changed by the scorekeeper from a hit to an error. Even if it took away his RBI on that play, he drove a run in and also added a double in the game. Chris Giovinazzo had a run and RBI for the Bruins and Dean Espy scored the game-winning run to complete the sweep.
It took until the third inning for either team to get a base runner and that was a measly Washington walk. UCLA countered with their first base runner in the bottom half of the inning, a hit in fact, with a one-out double by Rodriguez, but the Bruins left him on base.
A half inning later, Washington picked up a one-out double of their own. Plutko made things a bit tougher on himself when he walked a man with two outs, putting two runners on, but the freshman came up big with an inning ending strike out.
Giovinazzo led off the fifth inning with a walk and the Bruins made that run count with a timely two out knock. A sacrifice bunt moved Giovinazzo to second and while the Bruins could get the job done with one out, they did it with two. Rodriguez laced a hard grounder to third base and it skipped by the third baseman. That allowed Giovinazzo to come around and scored from second for a 1-0 UCLA lead. While the scorer may have changed the ruling from a hit to an error, the Bruins weren't about to get picky. They had their lead.
That lead was doubled in the seventh inning when Regis started off the frame with a shot to right center. With the ball up against the wall, Regis chugged his way around first and second and into third base with a lead off triple. Giovinazzo followed by lifting a fly ball to right field and while it wasn't the deepest of fly outs, it was deep enough that Regis could tag and score for a 2-0 Bruin lead.
Beacom entered for Plutko to start the eighth inning and was rudely welcomed when the first pitch he threw was smacked back up the middle for a single. Two ground outs later and the Huskies had a man on third with two outs, threatening to cut the UCLA lead in half. Beacom would have done of it, whipping a 2-2 pitch in for a called strike three to end the inning with UCLA's two run lead intact.
The top of the ninth inning was filled with eventful UCLA defense as they made a couple sensational plays, but also a couple costly errors. The inning started with a botched grounder to shortstop that Pat Valaika never looked comfortable on and eventually threw away for an error. That was followed by a ground ball deep into the hole at second base. Trevor Brown, playing second base for the first time this weekend, looked every bit the part of a seasoned second baseman as he ventured deep into the hole, dove to grab the ball and threw to first for a key first out. Vander Tuig didn't give his defense a chance on the next batter as the ball was laced down the left field line for a double that scored a run and put the tying run in scoring position.
After a strike out, UCLA was one out away from the win and it looked like they had it when a grounder was hard hit to third, but Regis should have made the play and didn't for the inning's second error. With men on second and third, Washington got the hit they needed, a single to left that scored the tying run and would have scored the winning run if not for Cody Keefer cleanly fielding the ball in left and unleashing a great throw to the plate that Rodriguez gathered before applying the tag to end the inning and keep the go-ahead run from scoring.
With their lead a thing of the past, UCLA needed their offense to come through and grab the win. Espy came to the plate with one out and nearly did it himself, hitting a bomb straight down the left field line that cleared the left field foul pole and those in the stands wondering if it was fair or foul. The umpires ruled it foul though, keeping the game alive and sending Espy back to the plate. He promptly smacked a pitch into center field though, putting the winning run on base. That brought Regis to the dish hoping to atone for his error in the top half of the inning. Atone he did, lashing a 3-0 pitch into the left center gap. Espy was off on contact and rounded second before heading to third. Third base coach Jake Silverman waved Espy home and home Espy went, scoring the winning run and emptying the Bruin dugout as they rushed Regis at second base to celebrate their thrilling win over the Huskies.