Creighton, the No. 4 seed in the NCAA baseball tournament’s Los Angeles regional, made a 1,568 mile trek from Omaha, Neb. to Los Angeles’ Jackie Robinson Stadium to start postseason play.
If No. 1 seed UCLA keeps playing the way it did Friday in a 3-0 win over the Bluejays, the Bruins will be returning the favor when the College World Series begins in Omaha on June 15 at TD Ameritrade Park, Creighton’s home stadium.
Sophomore right hander Adam Plutko – the Bruins ace – pounded the strike zone and breezed through Creighton’s lineup in a complete-game shutout. Plutko only surrendered two hits, struck out seven and never allowed a Bluejay to reach third base.
Plutko was dealing with the recent death of his great grandmother and missed a team practice yesterday to attend the funeral in San Diego. He still managed to register what coach John Savage called his best performance of the year.
“Coach and I talked before the game and we wanted to make them prove they could hit my fastball,” said Plutko, adding that it was a pleasure to pitch in front of various family members who were in town. “We went right at them with it and we kept going back to it.”
Last year’s UCLA baseball team was plagued by a lack of timely hitting. Despite boasting two top-five draft picks in their starting rotation, the Bruins were eliminated by UC Irvine in a regional they were hosting.
Things are different this season for UCLA. The Bruins team batting average is 47 points ahead of where it was at the end of last season and they showed off their hot bats early in Friday’s win.
UCLA (42-13,) ranked and seeded No. 2 nationally, jumped on Creighton starter junior Ty Blach, striking for five hits and three runs in the first two innings.
“When (junior center fielder Beau Amaral), (junior right fielder Jeff Gelalich) and those guys start producing for you, it makes it a lot easier,” Plutko said. “I can’t credit our offense enough. They’ve been doing that all year for us.”
Blach had the Bruins worried as he threw a complete-game, one-hit shutout against Indiana State to kick off the Missouri Valley Conference which the Bluejays (26-29) had to win just to gain entry to the 64-team field. Blach settled things down, allowing just two hits throughout the remainder of the game, but the damage was done.
“They had a couple of two-out base hits,” Blach said. “I left a few pitches up and they made me pay for it. They’re really good hitters.”
New Mexico upsets San Diego
New Mexico, the Los Angeles regional’s No. 3 seed, upset No. 2 seed San Diego in Friday’s opening game 4-0.
The Lobos have now won 10 straight games, winning a share the Mountain West Conference’s regular season crown and taking the conference tournament.
“We’re playing well right now,” coach Ray Birmingham said. “They’re all pitching in. San Diego plays the game absolutely right.”
Junior right hander Austin House secured the win for New Mexico, scattering just six hits over seven innings. Offensively,the Lobos were keyed by sophomore third baseman D.J. Peterson who went 4-for-4 including a two-run home run in the top of the ninth for insurance..
San Diego gambled by starting sophomore right hander Michael Wagner, their regular closer, against New Mexico. Wagner was strong through the game’s first three innings but gave up the two go-ahead runs in the fourth. Offensively, the Toreros stranded five runners in scoring position.
San Diego and Creighton will play today at 3 p.m. followed by UCLA and New Mexico at 7 p.m.