OMAHA, Neb. — Adam Plutko limited Mississippi State to a run on four hits in six innings, and UCLA survived some anxious moments to beat the Bulldogs 3-1 in Game 1 of the College World Series finals Monday night.
Plutko retired nine straight to start, worked out of trouble twice and turned the game over to the bullpen in the seventh. The Bulldogs (51-19) left runners in scoring position four of the last six innings.
The Bruins (48-17) are one win from their first national championship in baseball. Mississippi State must win Game 2 on Tuesday night to keep alive its hopes for its first NCAA title in any sport.
UCLA made it 3-0 in the fourth on Eric Filia’s two-out single off Chad Girodo, who replaced starter Trevor Fitts (0-1) in the second. That was the last of the Bruins’ six hits.
FLOCKING TO OMAHA: The way Mississippi State fans showed up for the College World Series finals, it made one wonder whether anyone was left in the Magnolia State on Monday night.
Bulldogs fan Sherry Elmore was walking through the left-field concourse when she happened upon a neighbor who lives in the house behind her in Columbus, Miss.
Sherry and her husband, Steve, and Wendy Jolly drove the 870 miles to Omaha in 14 hours, arriving Sunday.
Steve didn’t have enough vacation time to come for the start of the CWS, but he said there was nothing that would stop him from making the trip if the Bulldogs made it to the finals.
“We follow the Dawgs wherever they go,” Steve said.
Mississippi State spokesman Joe Dier estimated the maroon-and-white turnout at 8,000, roughly a third of the crowd at TD Ameritrade Park. Longtime CWS ticket chairman Herb Hames said he had never seen such a rush of fans pour into town for the finals.
HOMAGE TO WOODEN: UCLA coach John Savage says the impact of John Wooden continues to be felt in his and every other program at UCLA.
The “Wizard of Westwood” built a basketball dynasty at UCLA and is one of the most revered coaches ever.
He died in 2010.
“He’s the coach of all coaches,” Savage said. “He set the groundwork for so many staffs, so many programs outside of basketball that it’s hard to put into words what he’s meant to the UCLA family, the UCLA community.
“So we look up to coach Wooden. He’s been our leader forever and ever, and that’s where it starts.”