March 9, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- Ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs dropped the first game of a three-game series with No. 16 UCLA 2-0, Friday at Foley Field
Georgia (11-3) was shutout for the first time this season and recorded a season-low five hits. UCLA sophomore Adam Plutko (2-1) tossed a complete game with no walks and 11 strikeouts as the Bruins improved to 10-3. Bulldog sophomore Alex Wood (3-1) allowed a two-run home run in the fourth that proved to be the difference. He went 6.2 innings and allowed six hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
After a heated pitching battle that left the first three innings scoreless, UCLA took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth when first baseman Trevor Brown hit a two-run home run. Left fielder Jeff Gelalich went 4-for-4 on the night and was on base for the Brown home run. The Bruins threatened to score again in the fifth with two outs and a runner on third, but Wood registered his second strikeout of the inning.In the sixth inning, the Bruins once again had two outs and a runner on third when Wood recorded his fifth strikeout of the night.
Georgia missed out on scoring opportunities in the first and seventh frames. Freshman Nelson Ward got the start at designated hitter and in the leadoff spot. He went 2-for-4 including a leadoff single in the first. Conor Welton followed with a base hit but Plutko retired the next three Bulldogs. In the seventh. freshman Hunter Cole led off with a double and senior Peter Verdin reached with a one-out bunt single. Verdin has now reached safely in all 14 games this season. Plutko battled back to strikeout Brandon Stephens and got Curt Powell to flyout to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard.
The Bruins came knocking again in the eighth, but the Bulldog bullpen held them off. Junior right-hander Bryan Benzor stranded runners on second and third. Senior Chase Hawkins made his fifth relief appearance this season when he came in the ninth inning. With two one, he struck out Cody Keefer.
"Our pitching and defense are there, we just need to get the offense going," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We're not hitting right now, I believe 23 of our 27 outs were either pop ups or strikeouts. We can't wait until our third at bat to make adjustments, and it's on me. I've got to remind them to hit the ball on the ground. Also, I have to credit Adam (Plutko), he did a nice job, and his pitch count was low. I thought Alex (Wood) did well too. After he gave up the home run, he pitched three scoreless innings and that's good to see."
Georgia continues its series with UCLA Saturday at 2:05 p.m. The game will be televised regionally on CSS.