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Monday, March 7, 2011
Baseball: Bruins slip in latest rankings

By Blair Angulo

For the second time in as many weekends, the UCLA baseball team dropped two of three against a team it was supposed to handle.

The consequence? A plunge from No. 5 to No. 10 in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll. Give head coach John Savage credit for scheduling a series at Nebraska in early March. Baseball isn't desirable in 40-degree weather.

And it was evident in the visiting Bruins, who won Friday's opener 1-0 in 11 innings before losing 2-1 Saturday in 12 and 5-4 Sunday in 11. The results aren't alarming -- UCLA went on the road and lost two extra-inning games by a combined two runs. That will happen over the course of a 56-game season.

The Bruins' bats, though, are a reason for concern.

Only one player -- sophomore outfielder Cody Keefer (.333) -- is hitting above .300. UCLA (7-4) has hit only one home run in 11 games. The Bruins scored 97 runs through their first 11 games last season; they have only 46 this year.

UCLA spoiled superb outings from Trevor Bauer and Adam Plutko on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Bauer struck out 17 batters in 10 innings and did not factor in the decision. Plutko lowered his ERA to a team-best 0.47 with six scoreless innings Sunday before the bullpen blew a 4-1 lead in the ninth.

Ace Gerrit Cole carried a perfect game into the seventh and put together nine scoreless frames on Friday, but did not factor into the decision.