In a close-knit affair, UCLA defeated Mississippi State, 3-1, in Game 1 of the College World Series final on Monday in Omaha.
UCLA struck first on Monday.
With one out, Kevin Kramer struck out swinging but advanced to first base on a wild pitch. After a double by Eric Filia and an RBI single by Pat Valaika, Kramer scored to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins had another chance to score in the second inning. After Shane Zeile singled and advanced to second on Cody Regis' groundout, Bulldogs left-hander Chad Girodo replaced starter Trevor Fitts in the middle of Brenton Allen's at-bat. Girodo quickly finished off Allen on one pitch.
After Brian Carroll was hit by a pitch, Kramer appeared to reach first base safely on a groundout, but the first-base umpire said Girodo got to first in time off a flip from first baseman Wes Rea.
Mississippi State went one-two-three in the first three innings facing UCLA right-hander Adam Plutko, but UCLA was only able to get off to a 1-0 lead, stranding several runners in the process, per Ryan Rosenblatt of BruinsNations.com:
#UCLA is leading 1-0, but they have stranded 6 in the 1st 3 inn. Plutko has to make sure these missed opportunities don't bite the Bruins.— Ryan Rosenblatt (@RyeUCLAbaseball) June 25, 2013
But in the fourth inning, UCLA extended its lead.
First, Allen singled. Then, Carroll laid down a perfect bunt that led to a throwing error by catcher Nick Ammirati, as Allen advanced to third on the play. After Carroll stole second base, Filia singled home Allen and Carroll as the Bruins took a 3-0 lead. Filia was thrown out trying to get back after rounding first base, but the damage had already been done.
Jason Caldwell of AUTigers.com tweeted:
It's just like clockwork for UCLA. Take advantage of another mistake to score runs. 3-0 in that ball park is a big lead.— Jason Caldwell (@ITATJason) June 25, 2013
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Mississippi State responded.
After two singles and a hit by pitch, the Bulldogs had the bases loaded with two outs against Plutko. Plutko then walked C.T. Bradford, as Alex Detz scored.
But Trey Porter's lineout to right field ended the rally.
The Daily Bruin tweeted:
UCLA had the lead through four innings, 3-1.
In the fifth inning, the Bruins went one-two-three, and you could sense the tide turning. But with Demarcus Henderson on second base with two outs in the frame, Detz lined out to second base.
In the bottom of the seventh, Porter singled to begin the inning, signaling the end of Plutko's start, who pitched six innings of one-run ball. Reliever James Kaprielian walked Ammirati right away but got Henderson to ground into a double play and leadoff hitter Adam Frazier to ground out to end the threat.
Mike Hiserman of the Los Angeles Times tweeted:
With reliever David Berg pitching in the bottom of the ninth, the Bulldogs were threatening with men on first and second with one out, but Berg got Ammirati to fly out to left center and pinch-hitter Jacob Robson to ground out to end the game.
Berg posted the NCAA single-season record for saves on Monday.
Eric Filia, RF, UCLA: A
In a low-scoring game, Eric Filia provided most of the offense for the Bruins. His two-out, two-run single in the fourth inning was huge. Filia finished 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Adam Plutko, SP, UCLA: A
Adam Plutko's sterling performance on Monday was needed, as the Bruins only scratched across three runs in the ballgame. Allowing just one run in six innings, Plutko battled through some adversity to lead UCLA to a Game 1 victory.
James Kaprielian, RP, UCLA: B+
After walking Ammirati right off the bat in the seventh inning, James Kaprielian got the Bulldogs to ground out on consecutive at-bats to keep them scoreless in a close ballgame. He could have easily crumbled after the walk, but he came up big in the end.
Brett Pirtle, 2B, Mississippi State: B
As UCLA blanked most of the Bulldogs' lineup, Brett Pirtle came to play, going 2-for-4. That being said, he also grounded into a pivotal double play in the bottom of the eighth, marking the beginning of the end for the Bulldogs in Game 1.
Chad Girodo, RP, Mississippi State: B+
Chad Girodo was charged with no earned runs in 7.2 innings pitched on Monday (two unearned runs), the victim of an error by catcher Nick Ammirati in the fourth. Of course, he also gave up a two-out single to Filia in the fourth that ended up being the difference in the game. Overall, you can't expect too much more from the left-hander.
UCLA and Mississippi State will play Game 2 in the best-of-three series at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday. UCLA needs one more win to be crowned national champion.