On a nice Sunday afternoon USC faced off against UCLA in the first of four games between the two squads. Southern California sent Kevin Coutore to the mound who went seven innings the week previous against Cal Poly where he had a no-decision. UCLA countered with Rob Rasmussen who also had no record after pitching 3.2 innings against Cal-State Northridge giving up four runs.
USC starting pitcher Kevin Couture was knocked out of the game on a Steve Rodriguez line drive in the 2nd inning, and was replaced by Ben Mount (L, 0-1), who was credited with the loss after taking the Trojans all the way into the 7th.
Neither team was able to get on the board until the 5th inning when USC coach’s son Cade Kreuter doubled to left, followed by a Mike O’Neill double to left center. Rasmussen was lifted after a 2-out walk, and Erik Goeddel (W, 2-0) came in and struck out cleanup hitter Matt Foal to end the 5th. Rasmussen was effective in his 4.2 innings, giving up 5 hits and striking out 6, leaving with a no-decision.
UCLA who has been hot over their last two contests in the 5th inning, scoring three against Long Beach State and 6 against Vanderbilt. Cleanup hitter Brett Krill doubled to left center scoring Cody Keefer, who reached on a single earlier in the inning. The Bruins big 5th inning streak didn’t continue though, as pinch hitter Justin Uribe fouled out and Chris Giovinazzo lined out to center field.
Savage made the choice in the bottom of the 7th with no outs, and momentum clearly on the Bruins side after a the pitching change to have Krill try and lay down a sac bunt on the Trojans, but new Trojans pitcher Shuhei Fujiya was able to field the ball and quickly gun out Navarro at third. The Trojans looked like they could contain the Bruins in the inning after that apparent gaffe, but Fujiya threw a wild pitch putting Bruins runners into scoring position. Trojan coach Chad Kreuter decided to bring in his infield, and Justin Uribe was able to sneak a line drive past Taylor Wrenn, scoring Rahmatualla and Krill, making it a 3-1 UCLA lead, with all 3 runs being credited to Ben Mount.
USC got no production out of their 3-4-5 hitters until the 8th inning when Foat and Hart reached on consecutive 2-out singles, but were unable to capitalize as closer Dan Klein came in for an early appearance and struck out sophomore RF Alex Sherrod to end the 8th. The 3-4-5 hitters for USC combined went 2 for 8 with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts in the contest.
Niko Gallego had seemed rather frustrated with himself in the prior games, throwing his bat and helmet against Long Beach State and yelling at himself after consecutive flyouts and groundouts today, but was able to take out that frustration on a 1-0 breaking ball from Fujiya and send it well into the left field bleachers at Chavez Ravine. Rodriguez then pounced on the next pitch to right for a double , followed by a Cody Keefer double to left center, effectively ending any comeback for USC. UCLA went on to score one more on a bases loaded walk, going into the 9th up 6-1.
After watching Friday night’s contest at Jackie Robinson Stadium between Vandy and UCLA, I didn’t think today’s first annual Dodgertown Classic would be well attended. Well, I was wrong, because before the game even started, field level traffic was directed to the left field pavilion. The final attendance count was 14,588 fans and the organizers are planning on making this an annual event.
The Trojans are now 3-4 with 3 consecutive losses, while the Bruins improve to 6-0, their best start since 1997.