Bruins win first of title finals

The Associated PressJune 25, 2013 

OMAHA, Neb. — Adam Plutko limited Mississippi State to a run on four hits in six innings, and UCLA survived some anxious moments to beat the Bulldogs 3-1 in Game 1 of the College World Series finals Monday night.

Plutko retired nine straight to start, worked out of trouble twice and turned the game over to the bullpen in the seventh. The Bulldogs (51-19) left runners in scoring position four of the last six innings.

“We dodged some bullets, no doubt about it, but you have to give credit to our defense,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “Kind of a Bruin game. Tight game, and at the end of the night we were fortunate to come out with the win.”

The Bruins (48-17) are one win from their first national crown in baseball and the school’s record 109th in a team sport.

“Not much to get excited about,” Savage said. “It comes down to tomorrow.”

Mississippi State must win Game 2 on Tuesday to keep alive its hopes for its first NCAA title in any sport.

UCLA made it 3-0 in the fourth on Eric Filia’s two-out, two-run single off Chad Girodo, who replaced starter Trevor Fitts (0-1) in the second. That was the last of the Bruins’ six hits.

Plutko (10-3) walked in the Bulldogs’ run in the fourth.

UCLA is 40-0 when leading after seven innings. There was drama all the way to the end.

The estimated 8,000 Mississippi State fans at TD Ameritrade Park started the “Maroon and White” chant in the bottom of the ninth after C.T. Bradford and pinch-hitter Sam Frost singled to put runners on first and second with one out against closer David Berg.

Nick Ammirati flew out, and pinch-hitter Jacob Robson ended the game with his comebacker to Berg, who sprinted toward first base before underhanding the ball to Pat Gallagher.

Berg, who was making his 50th appearance of the season, earned his NCAA-record 24th save for 12/3 innings of work.

“Records are meant to be broken, but titles are what matter,” Berg said. “So if we all win a national championship, I’ll enjoy that. But right now I don’t think about it at all.”

The loss spoiled a splendid performance by Girodo, who pitched the last 72/3 innings. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out nine. Both runs against him were unearned.

UCLA’s Plutko wasn’t overly sharp, unable to rely on his breaking ball and change-up to get outs. But he still continued his dominance in postseason play. In eight career NCAA tournament games, he’s 7-0 with an 0.94 ERA.

The Bruins brought a .248 season batting average into the finals, and a .182 average through their first three CWS games.

They eked out enough offense to win again. In the first three innings, they had batters reach on a dropped third strike, infield single, two hit batters and a throwing error.

But there were big hits, too.

Filia, who came in 1-for-9 in the CWS, doubled after Kevin Kramer reached on a wild-pitch third strike. Pat Valaika’s single to center drove in Kramer for a 1-0 lead.

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