UCLA wins big over fan favorite Stony Brook
Perception isn't always reality.
The perception is UCLA entered Omaha for the College World Series as a national seed against Cinderella Stony Brook.
The reality is the Seawolves entered the College World Series with 52 wins – five more than the Bruins and more than any other team in this year's College World Series. The Seawolves had seven players drafted earlier this month – the same as the Bruins.
In reality, Omaha adopted Stony Brook as their own before the first pitch, including LSU fans whose team wasn't there because they were knocked out by the Seawolves in the Super Regionals. Stony Brook coaches helped create a sea of red inside TD Ameritrade Park by reportedly handing out red, Stony Brook t-shirts to fans in the parking lot.
NCAA.com conducted a poll, asking which team would win the game. 70% voted in favor of the Seawolves.
The perception that Cinderella was going to waltz past by the boys from Westwood was not reality, as UCLA romped Stony Brook 9-1 in Game 1 of the College World Series.
UCLA (48-14) didn't waste any time getting on the board. Right fielder Jeff Gelalich hit a two-RBI double to right field with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the first inning to put the Bruins up 2-0.
"The guys in front of me did a good job of getting on and having good at bats," Gelalich said. "I kind of saw how they were going to pitch me and that helped out a lot."
The next batter was first baseman Trevor Brown, who singled in a run for his team leading 52nd RBI of the season. The Bruins were up 3-0 with runners on the corners and still nobody out against Stony Brook starter and Crespi alum Tyler Johnson.
Shortstop Pat Valaika came to the plate next and executed a safety squeeze down the first base line to score Gelalich giving the Bruins a 4-0 lead.
Two batters later, third baseman Kevin Kramer hit a single off of the third base bag that popped up and hit Stony Brook third baseman William Carmona in the chest. That allowed Brown to score easily from third.
The Bruins sent 10 men to the plate in the inning, scoring five runs on five hits in a 40-pitch inning for Johnson.
"I think it kind of eased the tension a little bit that we were able to have some success there," said Gelalich, who went 1-4 with two RBI and a walk. "It was big. The first inning was huge for our confidence, to relax us and to give (starter Adam) Plutko a little cushion to work with, so I think that helped everybody."
The Seawolves (52-14) responded by loading the bases in the top of the second inning, but left them loaded after UCLA starter Adam Plutko induced Stony Brook right fielder Sal Intagliata to pop out to Brown in foul territory.
Johnson, meanwhile, was unable to make it out of the third inning lasting just 2.1 innings. He gave up seven runs on five hits and walked four, falling to 12-2 on the season.
Plutko was the opposite. He went seven strong innings and gave up just one run, a solo homer to Stony Brook catcher Pat Cantwell in the top of the third. Plutko struck out seven and walked two. He improves to 12-3 on the season, including 3-0 this postseason.
"That's Adam," Gelalich said. "He goes out there and gives you a quality start every time he pitches. He competes and he works really hard at what he does. It paid off today."
The Bruins will practice Saturday before facing the winner of Friday night's game between Arizona and Florida State on Sunday. Stony Brook will face the loser in an elimination game.
UCLA has now won 10 in a row, including six consecutive this postseason.