Friday, May 14, 2010
UCLA takes series opener against USC
By Blair Angulo
Despite winning four of five during a recent trip, UCLA baseball coach John Savage was looking forward to returning to Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Trojans were coming to town.
"This series is as competitive as ever," Savage said Tuesday. "We've got to be ready to play."
It's safe to say the Bruins were prepared Friday night, beating crosstown rival USC 13-7. After being held to four hits and a run in Tuesday night's 2-1 loss at UC Irvine, No. 11 UCLA cranked 13 hits and scored in all but two innings. In fact, all but one starter collected at least one RBI.
"It's good to bounce back, especially against a rival," said Tyler Rahmatulla, who had two hits, two RBIs and scored three times. "It's always hyped up -- the teams of L.A. playing for the city. It was nice to come out on top."
The intensity was noticeable from the start, as freshman Beau Amaral extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a lead-off double in the first before coming around to score on a Rahmatulla grounder. UCLA (35-11, 11-8 Pac-10) tacked on three more in the inning for an early 4-0 lead that had much of the pro-UCLA crowd of 1,707 in good spirits.
"Tuesday was a little dagger," Rahmatulla said. "It happens, but you've got to find a way to bounce back."
The Trojans (23-26, 5-14) cut the lead in half with two runs off right-hander Gerrit Cole in the second, but the Bruins scored the game's next three runs to make it a five-run game.
Cole improved to 8-2 on the season despite a poor outing (five runs, six hits and four walks in five innings) -- at least by his standards. The sophomore ace -- who was averaging more than eight strikeouts per start heading into Friday -- fanned only two.
Still, the Bruins' offense was there to carry the load, the big blow coming in the bottom of the sixth when USC's middle infielders botched a force-out attempt to push UCLA's lead to six.
The 35 wins are the most Savage has recorded as a head coach (he had 34 wins as UC Irvine's coach in 2004). UCLA will go after No. 36 on Saturday at 2 p.m., with sophomore Trevor Bauer (7-3) taking the hill.
"We still have to come out Saturday and take care of it," Rahmatulla said.