UCLA took down the Trojans in dramatic fashion to complete the series sweep (Photo Credit: Mike Garza)
With 26 outs already in the books, the UCLA offense looked impotent and was strangely quiet after having their way with the USC pitchers and defense in the series' first two games. All of a sudden, the scene shifted. With one man on, Cody Keefer got a hold of a 2-1 pitch and deposited it over the right field fence, sending the Bruin faithful into a tizzy and the Bruin dugout streaming onto the field to mob Keefer at home plate after he rounded the bases.
Keefer's blast, in front of 1,531 fans, gave UCLA a 2-1 win, saving a dazzling pitching display for the Bruins. It also completed the Pac-10 series sweep, the 4-0 season sweep of the Trojans and was the Bruins' 13th win in their last 16 versus their crosstown rivals. The Bruins now stand at 37-11 on the year and their win, coupled with Stanford's loss, moves UCLA a full two games up over third place in the Pac-10.
While Keefer's blast won the game and deservedly stole the headlines, it was the stout pitching of three Bruin pitchers that gave UCLA a chance to win it in the ninth. Rob Rasmussen got the nod and pitched well enough to get the win. The junior struck out eight, walked none and allowed just one run on six hits in a seven inning start. He retired the last seven batters he faced and handed the ball to Matt Grace, who tossed a perfect eighth inning. The ninth inning belonged to Dan Klein, who sat down the Trojans in order and picked up the win to improve to 4-0 on the campaign.
Until they were down to their last out, the UCLA offense was as quiet as can be. To that point, the Bruins had just four hits and they finished the game with a measly six. Brett Krill was the only Bruin with two hits, going 2-4 with a run scored. Keefer had just one hit, but he made it count and finished 1-3 with two RBI and a run. Keefer also walked once to reach base twice in the ballgame, just as Jeff Gelalich and Cody Regis each did, singling and walking once. Niko Gallego had a hit as well, while Beau Amaral didn't have a base knock to snap his 15 game hit streak.
Each team went down in order in the first inning and while the Trojans did manage a pair of hits in the second inning, both were stranded.
In the third, UCLA finally picked up a hit when Gallego hit a one-out double and with two-out, Amaral was hit by a pitch to put two on base, but Gelalich's liner to first was snagged to end the inning.
With neither team managing much with the bats, the game was flying by, but in the fourth, USC finally put the scoreboard to work. Rasmussen left a 1-0 pitch just a little bit up and he paid for it as a high fly ball sailed over the left field fence for a solo home run. The Trojans threatened again in the inning when a two-out double and error put a runner at third, but a strike out ended the inning.
It looked as if the Bruins might get something going in the fifth when Krill led off the frame with a single, but a double play put an end to the UCLA rally before it could get going.
The seventh inning played out much like the third with a one-out double and two-out walk, but that amounted to nothing when Gallego flied out to right.
A two-out double to left center by Gelalich in the eighth gave those in blue and gold hope once again, but once again, those hopes were dashed. Tyler Rahmatulla went down on strikes to end the inning, setting the stage for Keefer's ninth inning dramatics.
Before the Bruins' magic with two out in the ninth, it looked as if they had no hope. In addition to being held to little throughout the first eight innings, a weak pop up to shortstop and slow roller to second put two quick outs on the Bruins. Krill got ahead in his count, 1-0, and did well to take an outside pitch to right with a hard line drive single.
Keefer stepped to the plate and the murmurs were that he better pick up an extra-base hit that can score Krill because a runner in scoring position would give the Bruins no hope. The freshman got ahead in the count, 2-0, and prompted USC head coach Chad Kreuter to visit the mound for a conference with his pitcher. It looked as if it worked when the next pitch painted the black on the outside part of the plate. Then, Keefer found a pitch that caught too much of the plate and hit a line drive to right field that carried and carried and carried until it came down on the other side of the fence. With the crowd on their feet chanting UC-LA and the USC team slowly walking off the field with their heads down, Keefer rounded the bases and was greeted by 34 teammates in white and blue at home plate to celebrate the series sweep.