Monday, March 1, 2010
Baseball: Clutch hit comes Justin time
By Blair Angulo
Senior Justin Uribe didn't get to start Sunday at Dodger Stadium, but he made an impact when the situation called for it.
With UCLA and USC locked in a 1-1 duel in the seventh inning, Uribe -- arguably the most experienced Bruins batter -- lined a single to center field to score the go-ahead runs in a 6-1 victory in the inaugural Dodgertown Classic. He tacked on an RBI walk in UCLA's three-run eighth inning to put the game out of reach.
But his moment came an inning prior. In a situation where Uribe said he was trying to lift a pitch into the outfield to score a runner from third, he instead sent USC pitcher Shuhei Fujiya's 1-1 offering back up the middle.
"He left a split up and I just poked it through the infield," Uribe said. "It's a lot easier when [the infielders] are 70 feet away than when they're 90 or 120. I'll take it."
Uribe didn't get start at first base because coach John Savage liked how Dean Espy was swinging the bat. Espy was hitting .625 heading into Sunday. The switch at first base was just another example of UCLA's depth.
The Bruins improved to 6-0 in front of a crowd of 14,588 that filled Dodger Stadium's field level seats and parts of the outfield bleachers. With such a turnout, Savage deemed the first-ever Dodgertown Classic a success.
"It lived up beyond everybody's expectations," Savage said. "The Dodgers did a remarkable job. The fans showed up on both sides... It's a credit to the college baseball community."
Sophomore right-hander Erik Goeddel earned his second victory of the season in relief of junior Rob Rasmussen, who gave up five hits and the lone run in 4.2 innings. He struck out six.
Fans started heading towards the exits when junior shortstop Niko Gallego led off UCLA's three-run eighth inning with a home run to the left-field bleachers.
"Our team just wore them down," Gallego said. "It was a battle -- that was a great baseball game. We've been jumping on teams early, but it was good to see that we can jump on teams late as well."