UCLA junior starter Adam Plutko became the school’s all-time postseason wins leader Friday night, helping the Bruins advance to the winner’s bracket of their regional with a 5-3 win over the San Diego State Aztecs.
Plutko pitched seven innings, allowing six hits and two runs, one earned, in the win, moving past former teammate Trevor Bauer to become the winningest postseason pitcher in UCLA history. The junior allowed a home run in the fifth to cut the Bruins’ lead to 4-2, but came back to hold the lead in the next two innings.
“It definitely wasn’t my best out there, but I grinded and coach (John Savage) said earlier that in the sixth and the seventh that that’s where my experience came in, and I think that’s true,” Plutko said. “I think my experience showed in the sixth and the seventh there.”
UCLA fell behind early before taking the lead for good with a three-run fourth inning. Junior first baseman Pat Gallagher got the scoring started in the inning with a bases-loaded, two-run single to right to take a 3-1 lead. The Bruins added to their lead when junior left fielder Brenton Allen followed with an RBI sacrifice fly.
“When it gets down to two strikes, we just try to battle … just battling and putting a good swing on it is really key in that situation,” Gallagher said of his two-RBI single.
Sophomore closer David Berg picked up the save despite allowing the first run of his postseason career. After surrendering an RBI double with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate, Berg struck out the final batter looking, to pick up his 19th save of the year.
With the win, top-seeded UCLA (40-17) will face second-seeded Cal Poly (40-17) on Saturday at 6 p.m. Cal Poly advanced with a 9-2 win in the earlier game Friday, besting San Diego who will face SDSU on Saturday.
“It was somewhat of a typical Bruin win, but I think offensively you saw what we’re capable of so hopefully that’s a good start to the weekend,” Savage said. “It’s only game one, it doesn’t mean that much. Obviously you’re in the winner’s bracket, but it’s a four-team and it’s still wide open.”