Three extra inning games, two losses and now UCLA is staring at a start to their much anticipated 2011 season in which they have lost two of their first three series. On Friday, Gerrit Cole's nine shutout innings at least resulted in a win, although he wasn't credited for it because it took 11 innings to settle that contest. Trevor Bauer's 17 strikeouts in 10 innings of one-run ball went for not because a 12th inning run handed Nebraska a win and then on Sunday, Adam Plutko's six shut out innings were wasted when the bullpen allowed three runs in the ninth inning to tie the game up before a home run in the 11th won it for the Cornshuskers, 5-4.
As was the case all weekend, UCLA got tremendous starting pitching on Sunday. In his first career road start, the freshman Plutko tossed six shut out innings and struck out seven to put the Bruins in good position to pick up the win, although it wasn't as if Plutko or any of the Bruins pitchers were helped out by their defense as the Bruins committed four errors. When Plutko's six innings were done Zack Weiss entered and struck out four in 2.2 innings, allowing three runs, two earned. Mitchell Beacom pitched the last 1.1 innings, surrendering two runs, one earned and absorbing the loss.
Tyler Rahmatulla led the way for UCLA at the plate picking up a pair of hits and scoring a pair of runs. Dean Espy and Cody Keefer also chipped in with a pair of hits each, Espy scoring a run and driving one as well, while Keefer drove one in. Jeff Gelalich added a hit, hit by pitch and run, but after three early runs the Bruin offense was quiet again.
After two games of anemic offense, UCLA got going in the first inning with a flurry of singles. Gelalich started off the game by getting hit by a pitch and quickly followed by stealing second. A single by Rahmatulla put men on the corners and when Espy singled with one out Gelalich came in to score for a 1-0 UCLA lead. A bunt single Keefer scored Rahmatulla from third and Cody Regis followed with another single to score Espy for a 3-0 Bruin advantage.
The top part of the order got the job done again in the fourth, but it was just a two man show this time around. Rahmatulla walked to lead off the inning and promptly stole second so when Beau Amaral hit one back up the middle for a base hit, Rahmatulal scampered home for another UCLA run.
The fifth inning was the first time Plutko ran into any trouble. A double and walked started the inning for the Cornhuskers and Plutko was facing a bit of a jam. A fly out and strike out relieved some of the pressure on Plutko, but a bunt single loaded up the bases for Nebraska. Plutko came right back by inducing a fly out though to end the inning without a run coming across.
An inning late Plutko was back in trouble again, but again he found his way out of it. The inning got off to a bad start when Plutko was forced to throw a few more pitches to get the first out because of a dropped foul out. A pair of two out singles had the Cornhuskers threatening later on in the inning, but just like the inning before, Plutko got a fly out to center to end the frame.
Weiss came on for Plutko to start the seventh and allowed a one out single that gave Nebraska a bit of a start. When he surrendered a single two batters later that double made its presence felt as the man on second came around to scoe and cut the Bruins' lead to 4-1.
It looked like UCLA might add to their lead in the eighth when Amaral, Espy and Keefer all reach to load up the bases with two outs, but Regis was caught looking to keep their lead at 4-1.
The ninth inning got off to a good start for the Bruins as Weiss got the lead off man to fly out, but a one out infield single gave the Cornhuskers life. Defensive indifference gave the base runner second base and a wild pitch moved him to third. A simple ground out scored him, but UCLA was willing to trade the run for the out. It looked like it was the smart move when the next batter hit a grounder to Pat Valaika at short, but Valaika's throw was wild and the man not only reached, but took second base. At that point, Savage went to Beacom and the big lefty looked much like Weiss in throwing a wild pitch to give the base runner third base. A single through the right side scored him and put the tying run on base, then a stolen base put him on second. From there a simple single back up the middle was all it took to give Nebraska the precious tying run.
A one out double by Rahmatulla in the 10th was the start of a response and an intentional walk put two men on, but a fielder's choice and ground out left the Bruins still even with the Huskers.
In the bottom half of the inning Nebraska put runners at second and third, but Beacom got out of it. That wouldn't be the case in the bottom of the 11th when the first pitch of the frame was deposited on the other side of the left field fence for the Nebraska win.