Adam Plutko's gem beat one of the nation's best pitchers (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)
UCLA didn't play a perfect game on Friday against Georgia, but when a pitcher has a game like Adam Plutko did, you don't need to be perfect. The right-hander was sensational all evening, besting one of the nation's top hurlers, Alex Wood, with a complete game, five-hit shutout. It was Plutko's second career complete game and he even added 11 strikeouts without a single walk in the contest to beat the nation's number nine team, 2-0, in Athens.
With the way Plutko was pitching, all that the Bruins needed at the plate was one big hit and Trevor Brown gave it to them, smacking a two-run homer that Plutko made stand up. Jeff Gelalich continued to be a force in the cleanup spot with a 4-4 game and a run scored, while Kevin Williams did his part at the bottom of the lineup with a couple hits, a walk and a stolen base.
The win now puts the Bruins one win away from a big road series win. Coming into the weekend there were questions about how UCLA would handle the road, but those questions were answered and then some thanks to Plutko. It wasn't a perfect game as the Bruins left 10 on base, but on the road it's about wins, not style points, and the Bruins got the W to stretch their win streak to eight games.
Both teams had chances to get on the scoreboard in the first inning, but neither could cash in. Each team picked up a pair of base hits to put a man in scoring position, with Georgia getting them from their first two batters, but fly outs ended the inning and left four stranded combined.
Once both pitchers got out of the first frame, they settled into a groove. Neither team managed to get a man on base in the second inning and in the third the only base runner came courtesy of a Pat Valaika error and it looked like the game was ready to settle into a pitchers' duel.
The game did eventually become a pitchers' duel, but not until Brown had his say. Gelalich picked up a one-out single in the fourth to bring Brown to the dish and the junior puts one good swing on the ball. He turned on a pitch and launched it out to left for his first homer of the year and just the second of his career, but it proved to be a big one when Plutko made it stand up.
UCLA had a chance to add to their lead in the fifth when Williams walked, stole second and took third on an error, but he was stranded. Gelalich was then stranded in the sixth after he doubled and Williams was stranded again in the seventh after his double. In both the eighth and ninth innings the Bruins put two men on base, but again, they were left out there.
The runners left on didn't matter much, though. With Plutko cruising, one run was all the Bruins needed and the two they had was just gravy. Plutko got into trouble just once when the Bulldogs put runners on the corners with one out in the seventh, but he got a strikeout and fly out to end the inning with nobody across.
After his seventh inning scare, Plutko sat the Bulldogs down on 10 pitches in the eighth, then breezed through the ninth inning in order too. 127 pitches after he started, Plutko had himself a gem and the Bruins had themselves a key win.