UCLA improves to 48-17 on the season and will look to capture its first baseball NCAA title and 109th title in school history tomorrow night at 7 p.m. CT. Mississippi State falls to 51-19 overall and will need a win Tuesday night to force the if necessary game on Wednesday night.
UCLA took the lead in the first inning starting when Kevin Kramer reached base on a wild pitch after striking out. Eric Filia followed with a double down the leftfield line to move Kramer to third, and Pat Valaika singled to centerfield to bring in Kramer and give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Both hits were just Valaika and Filia’s second hits of the CWS.
The Bruins added to its lead in the fourth when Brenton Allen hit a one-out single through the left side off reliever Chad Girodo. Brian Carroll laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached base after a throwing error from catcher Nick Ammirati. The throw caused a collision between Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea and Carroll, and Allen advanced to third on the error. One out later, Carroll stole second, and Filia singled to rightfield to score both Allen and Carroll to give UCLA a 3-0 lead.
After batting through the lineup, Alex Detz started things off for MSU in the bottom of the fourth with a one-out single up the middle to become the Bulldogs first base-runner of the game. With two outs, Brett Pirtle lined MSU’s second hit to centerfield, and Rea was hit-by-pitch to load up the bases. An MSU dominated crowd cheered “Maroon! White!” as C.T. Bradford drew a walk to bring in the Bulldogs’ first run. The inning ended on a liner to rightfield from Trey Porter and UCLA held its lead, 3-1.
The Bulldogs gave itself chances to make a comeback by putting runners on in every inning after the third, but the Bruins’ defense worked out of the biggest threats by rolling double plays in the seventh and eighth. In the ninth, Bradford and Sam Frost hit consecutive singles, but UCLA closer David Berg worked out of the inning with a flyout and a groundout to secure the win.
Adam Plutko (10-3) earned the win for UCLA going six innings and allowed one run (earned) on four hits, one walk, one hit-by-pitch and struck out two. Berg earned his 24th save of the season to break an NCAA single season record for saves in a season, and he also became the first pitcher in NCAA history to make 50 or more appearances in multiple seasons.
Trevor Fitts took the loss (0-1). Fitts went just 1.1 innings and allowed one run (earned) on three hits and struck out three.