Stony Brook loses to UCLA, 9-1
OMAHA, Neb. -- For a week, Stony Brook basked in the glow of its conquest of LSU to become only the second No. 4 regional seed ever to reach the College World Series. An estimated crowd of 23,000 at TD Ameritrade Park, where the predominant color was SBU red, was ready to cheer the Seawolves' every move Friday, but it was a quiet afternoon in the stands and at the plate for Stony Brook as it fell to UCLA, 9-1.
Talk about a major buzz kill. UCLA (48-14) scored five first-inning runs and starter Adam Plutko allowed only five hits -- including Pat Cantwell's homer in the third -- and two walks in seven innings, striking out seven. Stony Brook's top two hitters, Travis Jankowski and Willie Carmona, went a combined 0-for-8 with three strikeouts.
Stony Brook (52-14) next plays at 5 p.m. ET Sunday against Florida State (48-16), which lost to Arizona, 4-3, in 12 innings at 1:17 a.m. ET Saturday. The loser of Sunday's game will be out of the double-elimination tournament.
"Plutko threw a terrific game," Stony Brook coach Matt Senk said. "Falling behind as much as we did as early as we did made it very, very difficult . . . We had some chances with people in scoring position and we didn't take advantage of that. On the defensive side, I don't think we've walked that many people in a month. UCLA offensively took advantage of the free bases by getting some timely hits."
Three Seawolves pitchers combined to walk eight Bruins. The big stage and a tough UCLA lineup that was somewhat familiar with Stony Brook starter Tyler Johnson (12-2), who is from Southern California, overwhelmed the Seawolves in the first inning. The first five batters Johnson faced reached base safely, and by the time the carnage was over, he had thrown 40 pitches to 10 batters and given up five earned runs.
Johnson had three NCAA Tournament wins in the previous two weeks, but he said the workload wasn't as much of a factor as his poor location. Of his 69 pitches, 35 were balls.
"Walks have been up a little bit for me because I've been trying to pick the corner," Johnson said. "Even when I barely missed, I'd throw the next ball three more inches outside . . . I didn't do a very good job throwing strikes. It's mostly on me today."
UCLA coach John Savage said leadoff hitter Beau Amaral "set the tone" with the hard single he stroked to centerfield. After the Bruins loaded the bases, cleanup hitter Jeff Gelalich delivered a two-run single that was followed by an RBI single by Trevor Brown. Two more runs scored on a safety-squeeze bunt and an infield single that hit third base.
Amaral said getting off to a fast start was key. "We knew everybody would be rooting for those guys," he said. "Being able to take the crowd out early was a big deal."
Cantwell's homer on a 3-and-1 fastball cut the deficit to 5-1, but Johnson hit a batter and walked one with one out in the third. He was replaced by Jasvir Rakkar, who gave up a two-run double to No. 9 hitter Kevin Williams to make it a 7-1 game.
The Seawolves had two chances to get back in the game. They loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Kevin Courtney struck out and Sal Intagliata fouled out. In the fifth, Courtney walked and went to third on a none-out double by Intagliata. Jankowski then grounded to Brown, who stepped on first and threw home to get Courtney. A slow-motion television replay showed Courtney slid under a high tag by catcher Tyler Heineman, but plate umpire Mark Chapman missed it. Cantwell fouled out to end the threat.
"Clearly, a big hit there, we would have plated a couple runs, had a guy on," Senk said. "It could have been a huge inning for us, and it turned out to be a huge defensive inning for them."