Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer get a lot of publicity as the two aces of the UCLA pitching staff. That's to be expected with a pair of future top 10 MLB Draft picks who have dominated at the top of the Bruin rotation for three seasons now. Lost in the hype around the Bruins' two stars though is their third pitcher, Adam Plutko, who has been nothing short of sensational in his freshman season. Plutko wasn't going to be lost in the shuffle on Sunday though, as the freshman threw a complete game, two-hitter to lead the Bruins past Oregon, 4-0. The UCLA win finished off the series sweep of the Ducks to pushed them to 27-16 overall, 14-7 in the Pac-10.
Right from the start Plutko was dominant. It took eight batters for a Duck to reach base and by the end of the game Plutko had himself his first ever complete game. They weren't a comfortable nine innings either because it took until the eighth inning for the Bruins to score so he spent the first seven locked in a tie game. In his nine scoreless innings he allowed just two hits and struck out seven to just one walk. It was also the ninth time this season that UCLA has shutout an opponent, tied with the 1978 team for the second most in school history.
While they did enough to win, thanks to Plutko, the UCLA offense will be left ruing their missed chances. With 13 hits and four walks they had more than enough opportunities to put runs on the board, but they couldn't do it. Cody Regis couldn't be blamed for those missed chances though as the sophomore went 4-4 with a RBI. Cody Keefer drove in a pair of runs on two hits, while Dean Espy added two hits and two runs of his own. Kevin Williams played the role of hero on Saturday with the game-winning RBI and backed it up with three hits and a run on Sunday, while Jeff Gelalich only had one hit, but he had a walk, a stolen base and two sacrifice bunts to go along with it.
The Bruins had a chance right from the get-go as Beau Amaral reached on an error and Regis singled with two outs to put men on the corners. A ground out stranded them and unfortunately for the Bruins, it was just the start of a game filled with missed chances.
The second inning brought another opportunity as Williams started the frame with a single and a sacrifice bunt moved him to second, but he was left there. A ground out to first and fly out ended the inning with Williams still left on base so the Bruins were still knotted in a scoreless tie with the Ducks.
Oregon got their first hit of the ballgame with two outs in the third and when he stole second, Plutko found himself facing his first bit of trouble of the game. It didn't matter to the freshman though as he got the next batter staring at strike three on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Two men reached for UCLA in the fourth, but again they were left on base. Gelalich doubled in the fifth with one out, but like many before him, he too was left on base. The sixth inning brought the Bruins' worst missed opportunity as both of the first two runners reached base, but Chris Giovinazzo failed to get the sacrifice bunt down before striking out then Steve Rodriguez hit into an inning-ending double play.
A walk and stolen base by Gelalich in the seventh gave UCLA another chance, but again they left him, just as Oregon would do in the bottom half of the inning. A lead off walk and sacrifice bunt put Plutko in some trouble, but it didn't matter to him. Like he did last time he got into trouble he got into a 3-2 count before getting the strike out he needed to end the frame.
Finally in the eighth, UCLA got a run across. Singles by Espy and Regis started the inning before Keefer broke the deadlock. The sophomore singled right back up the middle on the first pitch he saw to score Espy from second and the Bruins had themselves a 1-0 lead.
The way Plutko had thrown, UCLA may not have needed a cushion, but it couldn't hurt to get one and they did in the ninth. A single by Williams started the inning and Gelalich bunted him to second. Amaral followed with a sinking liner to left that got by the left fielder for a RBI double and the Bruins were up 2-0. Espy followed with a single of his own and runners were at the corners. Regis got jammed on the first pitch he saw, but still managed to dump it into right field for a RBI single. Then Keefer singled, UCLA's fourth straight hit, to score Espy and the Bruins were ahead 4-0.
If Plutko was tired, it did not show. The freshman sat down the final nine batters he faced to put away the Ducks in just 29 batters, two over the minimum, as UCLA finished off the sweep of Oregon in Eugene.