Mark Appel is one of the best pitchers in the country and the likely No. 1 overall pick in next month's MLB Draft. On Friday night, he showed UCLA why, dominating the Bruins with eight innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits and striking out nine to lead Stanford to a 2-1 victory at Sunken Diamond.
No Bruin reached base more than once in the game as Appel dominated from the start. The game started with three strike outs swinging in the first, but lucky for UCLA, Adam Plutko was just as good in the early going. Every time Appel put up a great inning, Plutko answered him..
UCLA broke through in the third when Shane Zeile singled to open the frame and Pat Gallagher was hit by the next pitch. Brenton Allen bunted them over so when Brian Carroll grounded out to short, Zeile was able to score for a 1-0 Bruins lead.
Plutko didn't ease up with the lead. He needed just seven pitches to retire the side in the bottom half of the inning and didn't allow a man in scoring position in either of the next two innings either.
But Plutko ran into trouble in the sixth, and that proved to be his and the Bruins' undoing. A leadoff double was followed by a RBI triple to tie the game. From there, a simple sacrifice fly scored what would prove to be the winning run.
Plutko worked one more inning before exiting after seven wonderful innings, but he was no match for Appel. The Cardinal's hurler kept cruising until getting the hook after eight frames, but Garrett Hughes sat UCLA down in order to wrap up the game and earn Stanford the series opener.
The loss was a huge blow to the Bruins' Pac-12 title chances. They entered the weekend two games back of first place Oregon St. and when the Beavers lost on Friday, the Bruins were primed to move within a game, but they missed their opportunity. Now have to win their final two games and hope that Oregon St. loses each of their final two if they want to win a third consecutive conference title.