Beau Amaral was one of few bright spots for a tame UCLA offense (Photo Credit: Official Site)
Last season, UCLA won the opening two games of their series against USC and were behind in game three, but came from behind to finish off the sweep thanks to a walk off home run by Cody Keefer. That wasn't the case this season though as the Trojans were the better team from the beginning of the game on and the Bruins had to settle with taking two of three from their rivals in the Pac-10 opening series for both teams. The Trojans defeated the Bruins, 6-2, and now UCLA sits at 11-8 on the season, 2-1 in Pac-10 play with a game on Tuesday at Cal St. Fullerton looming before they return home for three games against Washington in their first home games since March 12.
Adam Plutko entered Sunday having never allowed more than two runs in a start, but the freshman got beat up some on Sunday. Two week ago USC beat Plutko, but the freshman only allowed two runs in six innings on that day. On Sunday the freshman surrendered four runs in 5.2 innings to pick up the loss and drop to 2-3 on the year. Mitchell Beacom tossed an inning of relief, but the left-hander got nicked for a pair of runs before Zack Weiss threw a scoreless inning and Dennis Holt retired a batter.
Offensively, UCLA struggled as much as they did two weeks ago against USC starting pitcher Logan Odom. Two weeks ago Odom allowed just one run as he picked up the win over the Bruins and he did the same on Sunday. UCLA totaled just four hits all game with Beau Amaral picking up two of those and a RBI. Keefer picked up a hit in the ballgame and a RBI of his own, while Cody Regis walked twice and score a run in a tame UCLA offensive effort.
Things got off to a bad start for UCLA and it was largely their own doing. A fly ball to right field was misjudged by Jeff Gelalich and instead of an out to start the game for Plutko, he'd given up a double. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third and he came home to score one batter later on an infield single.
The second inning started like the first, with a double to right, but there's no way Gelalich could have had this one. It was roped into the corner and went for an easy double. Like the inning before, that lead off double was cashed in thanks to a sacrifice bunt and then a ground out played him for a 2-0 USC lead.
UCLA cut into the USC lead in the third and almost added more in what was undoubtedly their best chance to rack up some runs until the ninth inning. Heineman was hit by a pitch with one out and Amaral followed with a single to put men on the corners. After a strike out, Keefer dumped a bloop into left field. It wasn't the hardest hit ball, but it dropped for a base hit that brought Heineman into score. Keefer proceeded to steal second and trailing just 2-1, they had two men in scoring position. Dean Espy grounded out to third though, ending the frame with the Bruins still behind.
In the bottom half of the inning, USC added to their lead. A lead off single put a man on base and then with one out, Ricky Oropesa launched his second home run of the series to center field.
With a 4-1 lead, USC's Odom was on cruise control. The right-hander shut down UCLA two weeks ago and did it again on Sunday. The Bruins couldn't touch him and he just got more support in the seventh inning.
Beacom hit a batter with a man out and followed it with another out for the second out of the frame. It looked like it would be a quiet inning, but a single and double steal followed to put men on second and third. That brought Oropesa to the plate, who was 0-7 with six strike outs against Bruin left-handed pitchers in the last two years, included two strike outs against Beacom this season. It didn't matter. Oropesa singled to bring two men in to score for a 6-1 Trojan lead.
UCLA gave themselves a chance in the ninth, but couldn't quite get the job done. Walks by Regis and Gelalich were followed by a two-out single by Brenton Allen that loaded up the bases. Amaral hit a grounder up the middle that was snagged, but Allen was breaking hard from first so the Trojans couldn't get the out at second and Amaral beat out the throw at first. Amaral's infield single scored Regis from third and brought Tyler Rahmatulla to the plate as the tying run, but the junior struck out to end the game.