LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Eric Filia came through with a two-out, seeing-eye RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give No. 7 UCLA a 2-1 victory over No. 22 Notre Dame at Jackie Robinson Stadium Friday night. The Irish dropped to 8-3 on the season, while the Bruins improved to 10-2.
Filia made a winner out of UCLA All-American closer David Berg. The sidewinder improved to 2-0 on the year with 2.0 scoreless innings of relief and four strikeouts.
Notre Dame freshman RHP Nick McCarty took the defeat and dropped to 2-2 on the season. He limited the Bruins to an earned run on three hits in 3.2 innings of relief. McCarty struck out four and walked one.
Kevin Kramer opened the 10th with a single off McCarty. After a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt, McCarty picked up a critical strikeout for the second out of the frame, but Filia pulled his first offering deep into the hole between second and third base. Irish freshman SS Lane Richards made a diving effort to knock down the grounder. Unfortunately, in his attempt, the ball ricocheted off his glove and bounded out of the reach of a hard-charging sophomore LF Mac Hudgins, who likely would have had a potential opportunity to throw Kramer out at the plate.
Quite simply, the game was as evenly contested as one can. UCLA finished with seven hits, Notre Dame six and neither team made an error.
Notre Dame junior RHP Sean Fitzgerald did not factor in the decision, but collected his third consecutive quality start nonetheless. The right-handed hurler allowed one run, it was earned, on four hits in 6.0 innings of work. Fitzgerald struck out five but also walked a career-high four (his previous career-high for free passes was just two).
Since Florida Gulf Coast touched him up for five earned runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings of the season opener, Fitzgerald has allowed just one earned run in each of his last three outings. He only has one victory to show for it despite a 1.33 ERA and a .188 opposition batting average.
UCLA junior Adam Plutko limited the Irish to an earned run on four this in 7.0 innings of work. He fanned four and walked two. Zack Weiss struck out two and allowed one hit in 1.0 inning of relief.
Irish sophomore DH Ryan Bull and freshman RF Zak Kutsulis each went 2-for-4.
Pat Valaika was the lone UCLA player with multiple hits (2-for-4).
The Bruins grabbed an early lead on Valaika's RBI double in the bottom of the first inning. After Fitzgerald issued a one-out walk, the UCLA shortstop took a 0-2 offering and ripped a run-scoring two-bagger into the right centerfield gap to score Kramer. Fitzgerald limited the damage to one run.
Fitzgerald settled into a nice groove following the double. He retired the next eight UCLA batters, including three via the strikeout, but Notre Dame was not able to muster anything off Plutko.
Plutko retired the first 11 Notre Dame hitters before Bull ripped a one-out single back up the middle in the top of the fourth inning. The base hit went for naught as Plutko struck out junior 3B Eric Jagielo and got junior 1B Trey Mancini to fly out to end the inning.
Valaika greeted Fitzgerald with another base hit in the bottom of the fourth. He ripped a single just inside the third base bag and moved into scoring position after a wild pitch. Fitzgerald buckled down and retired the next three Bruins, but Hudgins had a huge say on the inning's final out. Chris Keck laced a line drive into the gap in left centerfield. Hudgins made a spectacular diving catch that not only ended the inning, but also stranded a run at third base.
Notre Dame took that momentum into the top of the fifth. Senior CF Charlie Markson drew a leadoff walk and Kutsulis dropped down a bunt single to put runners on first and second with no outs. After Richards flied out to right field and Hudgins struck out, junior C Forrest Johnson laced a game-tying RBI single to make the score, 1-1.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the 10th.
The Irish return to action at 2 p.m. PT at USC Saturday.