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USC’s Blake Sabol scoring the tying run in the 7th inning of the Trojans’ 3-2 win over UCLA at Dodger Stadium. Photo courtesy of culvercityobserver.com
TROJANS BEAT THE 11th-RANKED BRUINS FOR THE THIRD TIME IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS IN CHAVEZ RAVINE
Except for the fact that it didn’t go extra innings, this year’s annual Crosstown Rivalry baseball clash at Dodger Stadium was a case of deja-vu.
Complete with USC left fielder Lars Nootbaar repeating last year’s heroics against the Bruins as his home run in the eighth inning of UCLA’s Garrett Barker before 9,346 won the concluding game of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic for the Trojans, 3-2, setting off a celebration among those clad in cardinal and gold and a rousing rendition of “Conquest” from the USC band.
Which for the second straight year earned Nootbaar, who went two-for-four with that homer into the right field bullpen, my personal “Player of the Game” award.
Particularly after Bruin second baseman Chase Strumpf failed Bruin Nation when he committed a mortal sin with two outs, a 3-2 count and the tying run ninety feet away in the ninth inning:
He looked at a called third strike from ‘SC’s Connor Lunn, rather than do what hitters always need to do in that situation…
Trojans signing autographs after their win over their crosstown rivals. Photo courtesy of twitter.com
Protect the plate; foul off any close pitch until one comes that can be squared up, and most of all,
Never, ever go down looking – especially if it’s two outs in the last inning!
I saw some posts from Bruin fans on Twitter bitterly complaining about that third strike call, saying that the pitch was outside, but you know what?
That’s irregardless. Strumpf should have still protected that plate.
Actually, after what happened in the first inning, the game was irrelevant in a sense due to UCLA’s starting pitcher, Jon Olsen, getting smashed in the face by a wicked line drive by Nootbaar, Olsen laying on the ground for several minutes before (THANKFULLY!) being able to walk off the field under his own power.
I was quite surprised that an ambulance wasn’t called.
Full highlights of USC’s 3-2 win over UCLA at Dodger Stadium yesterday, courtesy of YouTube.
Zach Pettway was very good in taking Olsen’s place, striking out seven Trojans, including five in a row at one point, before designated hitter Blake Sabol’s one-out triple and subsequent scoring of the tying run in the seventh inning after first baseman Dillon Paulsen’s drive into the right field pavilion got USC on the board in the fourth.
The Bruins played a decent brand of small ball at the plate, shortstop Ryan Kriedler scoring the game’s first run without the benefit of a hit in the third inning as he crossed the plate off a sacrifice fly by UCLA right fielder Jeremy Ydens.
UCLA’s other run came courtesy of a bases loaded walk, Kreidler scoring again in the fifth with Michael Toglia taking the ball four off the Trojans’ Ryan Hurt.
The biggest impression that I got from this game – yes, I was there, as I have been every year, doing my double duties playing in the UCLA Alumni Band and keeping score of the contest – was this…
USC batters struck out nine times – and were still able to get a triple, two home runs, and the win.
Their pitchers walked eight Bruins, meaning that they were all over the place – and all my alma mater could muster from that was two runs.
Zach Pettway dealing during the Bruins’ clash against the Trojans at Dodger Stadium. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com
My conclusion from that:
UCLA beat themselves as much as the Trojans beat them.
One significant illustration of this came in the fifth inning, when ‘SC right fielder Jamal O’Guinn bobbled a single by center fielder Daniel Amaral, Kreidler should have sent home right then rather than (eventually) waiting for Toglia to get a base on balls.
That showed a lack of aggressiveness on the Bruins’ part, and, along with them getting just three measly singles, in my view was a factor in the game.
In a consolation for UCLA – besides the news that the Bruins’ brothers on the basketball team got into the NCAA Tournament while the Trojans’ hoops brothers were shockingly snubbed, which everyone found out on their I-phones at roughly the third inning – there’s a lot of season left, and a chance at revenge when the Trojans come to Jackie Robinson Stadium for a three-game series which – unlike this match will count in the Pac-12 standings – commences April 20-22.
Which will give the Bruins time to sort things out.
I and everyone else who’s a SoCal college baseball fan will know a lot more about this UCLA team, and USC as well, by then.
Nootbaar (#11) whooping it up with his Trojan teammates after hitting his difference-making homer. Photo courtesy of sportspyder.com