On a beautiful and sunny day at Dodger Stadium, 11,680 fans came out to watch UCLA and USC at the Dodgertown Classic and what they saw was a Trojan team doing the little things offensively to scratch out what proved to be the winning runs in a 2-0 victory over the Bruins. A year ago when the Bruins and Trojans played it was USC that couldn't handle the fundamentals and little things, while UCLA excelled at them so unsurprisingly, the Bruins took all four games between the two teams. On Sunday, USC handled the little things to pick up the win when the box score didn't separate the two teams.
Adam Plutko gave the Bruins yet another quality start, but it wasn't good enough and the freshman suffered his first of the season to drop to 2-1. In six innings, Plutko struck out eight and allowed two runs on two hits, but he did hit two and walk two. Mitchell Beacom took over for Plutko and tossed 1.1 perfect innings before Nick Vander Tuig retired the only two batters he faced.
For the eighth time in 14 games this season, UCLA scored three runs or less, but this time they suffered their first shutout of the season. The Bruins' seven strike outs are actually an improvement on recent games, but they totaled only four hits in the ballgame. Jeff Gelalich picked up two of those hits and Cody Keefer added one to go along with a hit, while Marc Navarro added a double for the Bruins' only extra-base hit of the game.
A hit by pitch and sacrifice bunt put two on with one out in the first inning for the Trojans, but a pop up and strike out got Plutko out of danger.
UCLA got their first man on in the second inning on a one-out single by Gelalich, but he was erased by a double play. The next inning, Navarro doubled to left with two outs, but a ground out ended that frame.
USC, designated the home team because UCLA was the home team last season in the Dodgertown Classic, gave the scoreboard something to do in the bottom of the third inning. Plutko got a pair of strike outs to start the inning and looked to be in cruise control, but he hit the next batter and walked the following one to put two men on. Then, Plutko had a pitch blooped into short right field, barely past the outstretched arm of Tyler Rahmatulla for a single that scored the first run of the ballgame.
The fourth inning proved to be the perfect example of the little things USC did right and the little things UCLA did wrong. A two-out walk by Keefer got the Bruins going and he proceeded to steal second. Gelalich followed with an infield single, allowed Keefer to take third, but after the throw to first base was not in time, the first baseman threw across the diamond and caught Keefer off of third base for the inning's final out.
In the bottom half of the inning USC showed how to manufacture a run. A lead off walk got things going and the next batter showed bunt, only to pull back and smack a single to put runners on the corners. The next batter perfectly executed a hit and run, hitting a ground through the vacated second base spot as Rahmatulla broke to cover second base. The hit went for a single, scoring the runner from third base to put USC ahead 2-0.
It wasn't until the seventh inning that the Bruins picked up a base hit, but Keefer's single was quickly nullified by a double play. That pushed the game onto the eighth inning when UCLA wasted their best chance of the game.
An error started the UCLA threat and put a man on base for the Bruins with one out. After a pitching change, pinch hitter Chris Giovinazzo went down swinging for the second out of the inning, but another reliever entered the game and hit the first batter he faced. That led to another reliever who also hit the first batter he saw to lead the bases with two out for Dean Espy. The junior hit a grand slam on Saturday afternoon, but this time he went chasing a second strike out of the zone before chasing an eye-high fastball for strike three to leave the bases loaded.
The ninth inning went by quickly as the Bruins went down in order to seal their third consecutive losing weekend and dropping their record to 8-6 on the young season, while the starting pitchers hold just a 5-4 combined record despite a 1.55 ERA