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COLLEGE BASEBALL

UCLA opens regional play with 3-0 victory over Creighton

Sophomore Adam Plutko gives up two hits and strikes out seven in a complete-game performance for the Bruins, who play New Mexico on Saturday.

June 01, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • UCLA'S Cody Regis slides into home on a double by teammate Kevin Kramer in the second inning of an NCAA college baseball regional tournament game.
UCLA'S Cody Regis slides into home on a double by teammate Kevin Kramer… (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)

Postseason baseball at UCLA is becoming Plutko time.

For the second consecutive year, Bruins pitcher Adam Plutko turned in an outstanding performance in an NCAA regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

On Friday night, Creighton could not solve the sophomore right-hander from Glendora, who gave up only two hits and struck out seven in a 3-0 complete-game victory.

"When you're the ace of the staff you have to be at your best in these situations," said Plutko, who improved to 10-3.

UCLA plays New Mexico, a 4-0 winner Friday over San Diego, in a winner's bracket game Saturday at 7 p.m.

Creighton plays San Diego in an elimination game at 3.

Plutko picked up where he left off last season when he gave up one hit in seven shutout innings in an elimination-game victory against San Francisco.

Friday's outing was the third shutout of his career, the first since striking out 11 at Georgia on March 9.

Plutko did it with a heavy heart after attending a funeral for his great-grandmother Thursday in San Diego. But he was happy to give his teammates and gathered out-of-state family members a lift with his performance.

UCLA Coach John Savage also welcomed what has been an uncommon occurrence for Bruins pitchers.

UCLA (43-14) won a share of thePac-12Conference on the strength of a bullpen that required starters to pitch only six effective innings. But in double-elimination postseason play, Savage wanted to avoid taxing the back end of the staff at the outset.

Plutko, who threw 113 pitches, allowed him that luxury by dominating Creighton with fastballs.

"It was his best outing of the year," Savage said. "And we needed it."

Plutko outdueled Creighton left-hander Ty Blach, who entered the game with a nation-leading 20 starts. Blach (6-6) pitched well, but left a couple pitches up early in the game and UCLA hitters made him pay for his mistakes.

The Bruins staked Plutko to a 3-0 lead on Jeff Gelalich's run-scoring double in the first inning and consecutive run-scoring doubles by Kevin Kramer and Beau Amaral in the second.

Amaral also made several outstanding catches in center field, including two in the right-field gap in the seventh inning.

New Mexico 4

San Diego 0

Austin House (8-5) pitched seven-plus innings and Hobie McClain finished the shutout for the Lobos, who extended their winning streak to 10 games.

Third baseman DJ Peterson went four for four, including a ninth-inning two-run homer that all but sealed the victory for the Lobos (37-22).

San Diego (40-16), trailing 2-0, had runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom of the eighth, but reliever McClain pitched out of the jam.

Peterson came up in the ninth and got the green light to swing for the fence on the first pitch. He missed, so with a 2-2 count he intended to push the ball to the opposite field.

Instead, he blasted his 17th home run over the left-field fence. "I was trying to go to right," Peterson said, "and I just ran into it."

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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