The UCLA offense put the game to bed early (Photo Credit: Scott Wu)
Of late, it has only required one, maybe two runs in supports of Adam Plutko. He's been sensational, shutting down whoever steps in the box against him in leading UCLA to a string of victories. Just because he only requires a run or two doesn't mean he won't take more, though. On Friday, the Bruins gave him more, scoring seven in the first three innings before sitting back and watching Plutko throw another gem en route to a 7-2 win over Cal in a Pac-12 series opener.
Plutko was hardly perfect against the Bears, walking four, so it wasn't like two weeks ago when he carried a perfect game into the sixth or last week when he threw seven dominant shutout innings, but he was plenty good in Berkeley. The sophomore allowed just six hits in 6.1 scoreless innings against the Golden Bears to stretch his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 13.1 and give him 22 innings with just one run across. David Berg threw an easy 1.2 innings and after Chase Brewer had trouble, Ryan Deeter wrapped things up in the ninth.
The offense was a bit short-handed without the injured Tyler Heineman and Pat Valaika, but they didn't look it in pounding out 12 hits on the afternoon. Trevor Brown led the way with three hits and two runs scored, while Shane Zeile added two hits and two runs of his own. Kevin Williams was also a member of the two-hit club and Cody Regis led the Bruins with two RBI in the victory.
After a tame first inning, UCLA took command of the game in the second inning. Brown and Zeile led off the frame with singles and after a sacrifice bunt, were standing in scoring position for Regis. The junior then crushed a pitch to deep center that only didn't get out because of the stiff wind, but it still made it to the wall for a two-RBI triple that put the Bruins in front. Kevin Kramer followed with a single to left, scoring Regis, then after Williams singled, Beau Amaral singled home another run to put the Bruins up, 4-0. Amaral's single also pushed Williams to third and when Cody Keefer lifted a deep fly ball, Williams was able to tag and score to complete the five-run UCLA second.
Cal tossed in a little bit of help when UCLA extended their lead in the third. Once again, Brown and Zeile singled to start the inning, but then an error on a rundown when Brown was picked off allowed each to move up 90 feet. A wild pitch then scored Brown before a Chris Keck sacrifice fly scored Zeile and UCLA led, 7-0.
Having been staked to a big lead, Plutko could relax. He wasn't at his best on Friday, but he buckled down when he needed to. Two walks in the first went for naught, as did a two-out double in the third, a leadoff single in the fourth and two base hits in the sixth.
The one time it looked like Plutko might finally get bit was in the seventh inning, but Berg got him out of trouble. After a leadoff single, an error by the out-of-position second baseman Zeile put two in scoring position with only one out. A walk then loaded up the bases and marked the end of Plutko's day, but Berg came in an induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
With the shaky seventh in the rearview mirror, the Bruins just had to finish things up. Berg, making his 12th appearance in UCLA's last 12 games, threw a scoreless eighth and while Brewer allowed two in the ninth, Deeter finished things upas the Bruins pushed their record away from home to a staggering 18-3 on the season with yet another road win.