The crown jewel of the inaugural Dodgertown Classic was the UCLA vs. USC game that culminated it all as the two rivals played at Dodger Stadium. A large crowd was expected, but fans blew all expectations out of the water when 14,588 fans showed up and filled the entire field level of the stadium, then packed so many into the left field pavilion (which had no concessions open so you know they weren't planning on that many people) that they opened up the right field pavilion. In front of such a crowd, the pressure was on the Bruins to continue their perfect run to open the season and continue it they did. On the back of some late hitting and a bullpen that has now gone 19.2 innings this year without giving up an earned run, UCLA took down USC, 6-1, their 10th win in 13 games over the Trojans.
After Saturday's UCLA game was rained out, most expected Trevor Bauer to pitch versus the Trojans, but head coach John Savage stuck with his scheduled starter, Rob Rasmussen, Rasmussen got into first inning trouble when he gave up a one-out triple, but got out of the inning unscathed. UCLA threatened in their half of the first by putting runners on second and third, but couldn't convert, although some would point to Cody Keefer being called out trying to steal second as the reason when replays showed the freshman was safe.
The Bruins had another second and third opportunity in the second inning, but didn't convert. The news of the inning was a comebacker that hit USC starting pitcher Kevin Couture and forced him to come out of the game. After using five pitchers on Friday night and then eight more on Saturday, the Trojans were short on rested arms out of the bullpen and Couture's injury made things tougher on them.
Rob Rasmussen made it into the fifth inning with a zero still on the board, but that was thanks to a great play by Keefer in left. Keefer caught a fly ball in left and came up throwing to get the runner trying to tag and score from third with a great throw that catcher Steve Rodriguez hung on to through contact.
Things changed in the fifth with one out, though, when a high fly ball to right field was misplayed by Brett Krill and dropped for a double. Rasmussen gave up another double next and USC was first on the board with a 1-0 lead. Rasmussen got one more out, but when he walked the following batter, he was pulled in favor of Erik Goeddel, who struck out the first batter he faced.
Keefer led off the Bruins' half of the fifth with a single and advanced to second on a balk. After Blair Dunlap grounded out, Tyler Rahmatulla reached on an error, setting the stage for Krill to atone for his mistake in right field. The junior did by smacking a double that plated a run and evened the game at one apiece.
Goeddel threw a perfect sixth and seventh inning to give the bats a chance in the bottom of the seventh. Marc Navarro pinch hit to lead off the inning and reached on an infield single and after a walk, runners were at first and second. Krill botched an attempted bunt, allowing the Trojans to throw Navarro out at third, but a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third anyways. Justin Uribe then hit a soft grounder back up the middle, but the drawn in infield allowed it to scoot into the outfield so two runners could score.
Leading 3-1, UCLA sent Goeddel back out for the eighth and he got one out before handing the ball to Matt Grace, who got one strikeout, then allowed a single. That brought Dan Klein into the game as the closer went looking for his first save of the year. Klein got out of the inning with a strikeout, then he got some support.
Niko Gallego led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a driven homer to left center, stretching the Bruins' lead to 4-1. Consecutive doubles by Rodriguez and Keefer scored another run and three walks forced another run in, giving Klein a 6-1 cushion as he came out for the ninth.
The crowd, which was almost all Bruins at this point after the Trojans exited in the eighth, cheered as Klein struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 ninth at Dodger Stadium.
Rasmussen lasted 4.2 innings, having allowed one run on five hits with six strikeouts and four walks. Goeddel's 2.2 hitless and scoreless innings earned him the win. Grace threw 0.1 innings and Klein struck out three in his 1.1 innings to pick up save number one on the year.
Keefer, slotted in the lead off spot, finished 3-5 with a pair of runs and a RBI, while Gallego and Rodriguez each chipped in with a pair of hits and a run in their four at-bats. Uribe topped all Bruin batters in RBI with three in just three plate appearances after coming on to pinch hit in the fifth.
UCLA's 6-0 start is their best since 1997 when they started 7-0. The Bruins will go after that mark on Friday when they welcome Nebraska to Jackie Robinson Stadium for a three game set.