Brett Urabe (44) celebrates with UCLA teammates after scoring a run in the… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)
There was repetitive motion from the start. UCLA pitcher Adam Plutko would go into the windup and 14 speed guns would be raised.
Major league baseball scouts behind home plate examined Plutko's qualifications for his next job. He was busy taking care of his current business.
This was routine for Plutko. His seven can't-beat-me innings in a 5-3 UCLA victory over San Diego State on Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium was another line on his postseason resume. It also left the Bruins on the right side of their regional bracket in the NCAA tournament.
UCLA (40-17) will play Cal Poly (40-17) Saturday at 6 p.m. San Diego State (31-30) will play San Diego (32-23) at 2 p.m., with the loser being eliminated.
"It's just the first day, but we're in the winner's bracket," Coach John Savage said.
Plutko (8-3) got the Bruins there. He wasn't overly sharp but allowed only one earned run in seven innings to set the UCLA record for postseason victories. He is 5-0 in with a 0.97 earned-run average in five postseason starts.
"I wasn't my best out there, but I grinded it out," said Plutko, a junior. "I got into a rhythm and had a good idea of the strike zone."
Scouts were there to chart every pitch. The book on Plutko is he is a fly-ball pitcher with a low-to-mid 90 mph. fastball.
His mix-and-match style was good enough for the Houston Astros to draft him in the sixth round after he graduated from Glendora High in 2010. Plutko decided to take the college route.
At UCLA, he fell in behind starters Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, both hot commodities. Cole was the first player taken in the 2011 draft. Bauer was the third pick.
"They handled the spotlight so well," said Plutko who is 27-10 in three seasons at UCLA. "I learned how to be known and how to be effective at the same time."
Plutko struck out four and allowed six hits. He has gave up only 21 hits in 37 innings during postseason.
"I think if you look at his whole body work, he is right there with" Cole and Bauer, Savage said.
The support Plutko received Friday came with effort. The Bruins offensive trend leans toward "small ball." On Friday it was downright microscopic.
UCLA scored three runs in the fourth inning, two on a seeing-eye single by Pat Gallagher and the third on Brenton Allen's sacrifice fly. The Bruins other runs came on a Kevin Kramer sacrifice fly and a dunk single by Eric Filia.
It was enough with Plutko on the mound.
Cal Poly 9, San Diego 2: Joey Wagman allowed only one earned run in eight innings, giving as the Mustangs earned their first NCAA baseball tournament win.
Wagman (13-3) allowed only six hits and struck out three.
The Mustangs scored six runs in the sixth inning to break the break the game open. Brian Mundell had two hits, including a home run, and drove in four runs.