LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Creighton baseball team ran into a strong arm from UCLA's Adam Plutko, mustering just two hits in the 3-0 loss against the Bruins in the opening game of the Los Angeles Regional.
Plutko threw his second shutout of the season, and third of his career, needing 113 pitches in his two-hit masterpiece. He walked three and allowed just one man all night to reach second base. Plutko improved to 10-3 on the season, and is 5-0 with a 0.49 ERA inhis last five starts.
The Bruins (43-14) got on the board first, taking advantage of a two-out infield single from Cody Keefer to push across their first run. The next batter, Jeff Gelalich, doubled into the left center field gap to score Keefer from first base. UCLA led 1-0 after one complete.
After the Bluejays (26-29) were retired in order in the top of the second inning, the Bruins again rallied on two outs, this time scoring a pair of runs in the home half of the inning. Cody Regis singled through the left side before Kevin Kraemer and Beau Amaral drove back-to-back doubles into the gaps of the outfield. The Bruins took a 3-0 lead into the third inning.
The Bluejays picked up their first hit of the game in the top of the fourth inning, when Brad McKewon led off the inning with a single right over the head of Plutko. But a pair of strikeouts and a fly out in foul ground to strand McKewon on first.
Blach settled in following the two-out parade in the first two innings, retiring eight straight batters to put the southpaw into the fifth inning. A single from Amaral led to Creighton's first double-play defensively of the game, a 6-4-3 turn to end the fifth inning. Creighton trailed UCLA 3-0.
Creighton again got the leadoff batter on base in the top of the sixth inning when Jake Peter picked up the first Plutko issued walk of the game. Brennan Murphy advanced Peter to second with a sacrifice bunt which led to another pop up on the infield and an inning-ending strikeout, stranding the second Bluejay baserunner of the game on second. That would be the only time all night a Bluejay reached as far as second base.
For the second straight inning, Creighton used a leadoff walk from Plutko, this time to Chance Ross, to put the first Bluejay batter on base in the seventh. A pair of robbed hits, first on a deep Anthony Bemboom fly ball and then a Gerber line drive to center fielder Amaral both nearly doubled off Ross, who was aggressively trying to get to second on both hits. A pop up from Scott Thornburg ended the frame, Creighton again stranding a base runner.
In the top of the eighth the Bluejays again opened the frame with a baserunner, as Alex Staehely singled through the left side of the infield. But the Bluejay shortstop was erased while trying to advance to second on a wild pitch, thrown out by catcher Tyler Heineman.
Creighton's final chance of the night came with two away in the ninth frame. Chance Ross walked with two outs, but Plutko completed his gem by retiring Bemboom on strikes.
Blach (6-6) threw well after the second inning, and finished with his fourth complete game of the year. He allowed seven hits and struck out six, while finishing without a walk.
Creighton will play San Diego in an elimination game tomorrow afternoon, with first pitch set for 5:00 pm CST. The game will air on 1620 AM in Omaha (KOZN), and a free video webcast will once again be provided by UCLA. The winner advances to play on Sunday, while the loser will head home, ending its season in the NCAA Tournament.
NOTES: Ty Blach made his 21st start this season on the mound, setting a Creighton single-season record and leading the nation this season in the category ... Plutko retired CU's first nine hitters, inducing seven fly balls in the process ... Blach's first 1-2-3 inning came in the third inning, inducing a ground out, fly out and striking out his second batter of the game ... Anthony Bemboom cut down his 10th baserunner trying to steal against him this season in the bottom of the sixth inning as part of a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play for the first two outs of the inning ... With six strikeouts, Blach is tied with Jonas Dufek for seventh in CU history with 244 career strikeouts ...Blach's 120.1 innings pitched ranks second-most in CU single-season history, and his 296.2 career innings is sixth in the CU recordbook ...UCLA's David Berg snapped a streak of 18 straight games in which he'd made a relief appearance.