FULLERTON, Calif. – UCLA scored two runs, fueled by three consecutive base hits in the 10th inning to narrowly defeat host Cal State Fullerton, 5-3, in game one of the Super Regional in front of a sellout crowd of 3,244 at Goodwin Field Friday evening.
With runners on first and second and one out, J.D. Davis surrendered the go-ahead run when Eric Filia sliced a RBI single through the right side and Brian Carroll, who started the rally, scored. With runners on the corners, Pat Valaika furnished the Bruins a two-run cushion, driving a sacrifice fly into right field as Kevin Kramer scored and UCLA took a 5-3 lead.
The Titans were forced to rally just to get to extra innings, as Fullerton trailed 3-1 entering the bottom of the eighth. The comeback started as right-hander James Kaprilian took the mound in relief of Plutko, and leadoff batter Richy Pedroza was issued a walk. With the tying run at the plate, the Bruins looked to All-American closer David Berg, who then walked Carlos Lopez. Matt Chapman dropped a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third, and Pedroza was able to score when J.D. Davis grounded out to second base– leaving Lopez at third with two outs and Michael Lorenzen at the plate.
With an 0-2 count and two strikes against him, Lorenzen's infiled single over the reach of third baseman Kevin Kramer tied the game as Lopez scored to tie the game at 3-3.
For Berg, the blown save was just his second in 22 opportunities this season.
Adam Plutko limited the Titan offense to one run on six hits in seven innings of work. The righty walked just one batter and struck out two.
In seven innings of work, Garza allowed three runs on five hits while striking out six and walking just one.
UCLA added a run in the eighth to take a 3-1 lead as Garza surrendered a bunt base hit to Brian Carroll before he was lifted in favor of sophomore reliever Tyler Petizmeier. Kevin Kramer sacrificed Carroll into scoring position, and he was able to move to third, as Filia drove a base hit into center field. With runners at the corners, Pat Valaika hit a well driven ball to Pedroza. The Titans' shortstop was able to make the out at second base, but Carroll scored on the play to put the Bruins ahead 3-1.
Just hours after being drafted in the fifth round by the Miami Marlins, Chad Wallach represented the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh after blasting a one-out double off the wall in left center. With the Titans in need of a run, Austin Diemer entered the game in a pinch-running situation to replace Wallach. Diemer was able to move to third on a wild pitch, but Plutko coaxed a fly out from Austin Kingsolver, stranding the tying run at third.
The Titans cut UCLA's two-run lead in half in the bottom of the fourth as Plutko issued a leadoff walk to Matt Chapman, who moved to second on a throwing error by Ziele. Plutko regrouped to retire the following two Titan batters, but surrendered a RBI single to Anthony Huttting, who found a hole through the right side as Fullerton got on the scoreboard.
UCLA took a 1-0 lead in the third, as Shane Ziele led off the top of the third, blasting a double down the left field line. Cody Regis was able to execute the sacrifice to third, before Ziele gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead, scoring as Brenton Allen drove a knock down the first baseline. Carlos Lopez was charged with an error on the play, failing to field the grounder while Allen earned the RBI on what should have been a groundout.
The Bruins lead doubled to 2-0 in the fourth as once again the leadoff batter troubled Cal State Fullerton. Eric Filia singled to first, and was safely sacrificed into scoring position when Pat Valaika placed a bunt toward third. Garza recovered to record a second out by striking out Kevin Williams, but couldn't escape the inning unscathed as Pat Gallagher drove a two-out RBI single into left field.
The Titans will try and regroup tomorrow, as they'll send staff ace Thomas Eshelman to the mound in game two of the series at 7:00 p.m. PT on ESPN 2.
Notes: The Titans are 15-6 when the opponents score first…Justin Garza (12-0) remains undefeated in 17 starts this season…Cal State Fullerton has not produced an 11-game win streak since Feb. 24-March 13, 2009, as the Titans failed to win their 11th consecutive game for the fourth time in 2013, producing four 10-game win streaks…the Titans are 11-3 against ranked opponents in 2013…Fullerton holds a 9-2 record against the Pac-12 in 2013…and the Titans are 2-1 in three games against UCLA in 2013…in its 11th Super Regional appearance, Fullerton has only lost the opening game twice, coming back in 1999 to defeat Ohio State in 1999 while falling to Stanford in two games in 2008…Fullerton holds a 7-5 edge over UCLA in the NCAA postseason, and in Super Regional games the series is even at three games apiece.
On tonight's game
"We lost, and we lost. We didn't catch the ball very good, we popped up really good. Our whole plan and work all week against Plutko was to try and keep the ball out of the air and we didn't do that. During one point we hit four ground balls, two of them for base-hits."
"I didn't think Justin pounded the zone very well. They beat us. We gave them too much. When you are at this point in the season and you give away too much stuff, you lose and that is what happened. They were the better team tonight and tomorrow is a new day."
On the eighth against Berg
"We grinded him down pretty. We gave ourselves a chance to win off him. He hasn't lost a game in two years. But I thought we took good at-bats against him"
On Defensive Struggles
"We had some frustrating at-bats. There were some things in that game that were extremely frustrating for both sides and I think it carried over to the field. We need to do a better job of handling that."
On being down 2-0
"Keep trusting my stuff. Didn't have my best stuff tonight and I didn't let that get me down and try to pound the zone as often as I could. I knew my team would be there behind me."
On Tomorrow's Game
"We trust ourselves and I trust my teammates that we are going to be able to come back and play our baseball. I trust that we are the better team. I am not worried about it at all, nothing has changed."
"Very competitive night to say the least. Two of the best pitchers in the country, the best freshman (Garza). They have probably have the two best freshman pitchers in the country going tonight and tomorrow. We got them. We competed. We got some good at-bats and we did enough early on to scratch a couple runs across. Plutko battled tonight. A very emotional night for Adam, three-time PAC-12 all-conference pitcher to sit there and not get drafted. It was difficult to say the least, I don't know why they do it at this time but they do it. It makes this night even more special, you just don't know how he is going to respond."
"We are very proud of Adam, we had good at-bats. Our bullpen did their job, certainly Berg. It's just one game. If we had lost I would have said the same thing. It's one game and far from being over. You don't win 50 games and go away. I believe Fullerton is the most complete team in the country. Nothing they did tonight gets me off that. We have a long ways to go as this series is far from over. We are up one game but tomorrow it will be just as competitive as tonight. "
On game-winning hit
"He threw me two high fastballs and I knew he was going to come with a curve ball. He left it up and I stayed short with it and hit it into right field."
On the eighth inning
"They are great hitters, they battled. Lopez drew a walk and they bunted. I made some good pitches to the next couple guys but they put it in play. Lorenzen put it right where we couldn't make a play. He did a great job. From there I knew I couldn't let another thing like that happen."