UCLA breezes past Stony Brook
Plutko strong as Bruins take care of underdog Seawolves
OMAHA, Neb. -- UCLA didn't take long to suck the life out of a College World Series crowd that wanted to see that lovable team from Long Island win yet another game during its amazing postseason run.
Adam Plutko turned in his third consecutive strong start and the No. 2 national seed Bruins jumped on CWS newcomer Stony Brook for five runs in the first inning on their way to a 9-1 victory in Friday's opener.
''We knew everybody was going to be rooting for these guys,'' UCLA leadoff man Beau Amaral said, ''and being able to take the crowd out of it early is a pretty big deal.''
The locals in Omaha always adopt an underdog as their favorite. Stony Brook, little known outside the Northeast, was an obvious choice after its magical run through the regional and super regional.
If the Bruins (48-14) were overlooked coming in because of the fanfare surrounding the Seawolves, they aren't any longer.
They sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning against Tyler Johnson (12-2), who allowed a season-high seven runs in a 2 1-3-inning outing that was his shortest of the year.
Jeff Gelalich's bases-loaded single opened the scoring, and Kevin Williams' two-run double off Jasvir Rakkar in the third made it 7-1.
''We had some plate discipline, had some quality at-bats, and we were fortunate we got some runs,'' UCLA coach John Savage said. ''I'm sure he has not started off a game like that all season long.''
Pat Cantwell's homer accounted for Stony Brook's only run off Plutko (12-3), who allowed five hits and struck out seven in seven innings.
Plutko has given up three runs and 14 hits in 23 postseason innings.
Stony Brook (52-14), a Division I baseball program for only 12 years, emerged on the national scene this week with its ''Shock The World'' mantra after upsetting powerful LSU in a three-game super regional in Baton Rouge, La.
The Seawolves came to town as the first team from the Northeast to play at the CWS since Maine in 1986.
On college baseball's biggest stage they were no match for a UCLA team that has won 134 games the past three seasons - the best stretch in program history.
Plutko, who threw a two-hit shutout against Creighton in the regional and allowed two runs in seven innings against TCU in the super regional, gave up just two singles before Cantwell drilled his second homer of the season in the third.
''Even if they hadn't scored as much as they did early, you go up against a team like that, and a pitcher like that, you're only going to get a couple of chances to score,'' Stony Brook coach Matt Senk said. ''We had some chances with people in scoring position with less than two outs, and we didn't take advantage of that.''
Stony Brook threatened in the second inning when its first two batters reached base and again in the fifth after Sal Intagliata's double put men on second and third with no outs.
The Seawolves couldn't push across a run either time. Plutko got a strikeout and pop foul to end the second. In the fifth, UCLA first baseman Trevor Brown threw out Kevin Courtney at home after Travis Jankowski grounded out, though it appeared on television replays that Courtney touched the plate ahead of Tyler Heineman's tag.
''Any pitcher knows that you get a lot of confidence when your team starts scoring runs. It makes it easier to pitch,'' Plutko said. ''They did a good job coming back in the top of the second inning. They really put the pressure on. I got out of it, but it gives the team a lot of confidence, and gives the pitcher, for sure, a lot of confidence.''
The Bruins, winners of 10 in a row and 20 of their last 22, have outscored the competition 42-10 in six NCAA tournament games.
They wasted no time getting to Johnson, who came in 3-0 in the NCAA tournament and off wins in 12 consecutive decisions since a March 2 loss to East Carolina.
Johnson said his heavy workload the past two weeks wasn't a factor.
''At this point of the year no one's really 100 percent,'' he said. ''We've got guys going out there with little bumps and bruises here and there. But fact of the matter is, I just wasn't on today. I had a good five days to rest, so as much as people may say it was overworking, it was just me being off today and a good UCLA team took advantage.''
Amaral and Heineman singled and Cody Keefer walked before Gelalich, the Cincinnati Reds' first-round draft pick, singled down the right-field line for two runs. Brown followed with an RBI single and Pat Valaika's safety squeeze bunt made it 4-0.
The Seawolves' hard luck continued when Kevin Kramer's grounder bounced off the third base bag before William Carmona could make a play, allowing another run to score.
It was the third time this season Stony Brook has allowed five or more runs in an inning. The Seawolves fell behind 5-0 in the first inning against Missouri State in a regional elimination game but rallied to win 10-7.
Stony Brook has staved off elimination five times in the tournament and will have to do it again Sunday in order to extend its stay in Omaha.
Johnson said he doesn't believe Stony Brook wilted under the pressure of the CWS.
''We played in front of 11,000 people in Baton Rouge - all people who were rooting against us and screaming at us,'' he said. ''Every once in a while you're going to have a bad game, and that's what happened today. We'll get back after it on Sunday.''