UCLA: Frank Cruz
March, 13, 2011
By Blair Angulo | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- The field level at Dodger Stadium was nearly filled to the brim and evenly split; half Trojan crimson, half Bruin blue.
Fans welcomed baseball's return to Chavez Ravine two and a half weeks ahead of the Dodgers' season opener. USC's contingent left the ballpark happy following the Trojans' 2-0 win Sunday afternoon in the second annual Dodgertown Classic.
Ricky Oropesa and Adam Landecker each had RBI singles and starting pitcher Logan Odom tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings to lead USC to its first win over UCLA in six tries. Closer Chad Smith escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by striking out Dean Espy on a high fastball.
"It feels good to beat them," Smith said. "We've been on the losing end over the past few years. It feels good to come out on top at Dodger Stadium in front of our fans."
The announced crowd of 11,680 fell short of last year's 14,588, but UCLA head coach John Savage deemed it a success.
"This is a great event," he said. "The Dodgers have been so courteous and generous in their efforts. Five-dollar tickets, free parking, half-off concessions and all the bells and whistles of the stadium. It's a great event and one that we're going to keep doing every year. I'd like to expand it into two days. My hat is off to the Dodgers and their generosity towards this event."
For Savage, the day-long event would have been better had the Bruins (8-6) won. UCLA, the defending national runner-up, lost two of three for the third straight weekend and will likely slip in the poll Monday. The Bruins began the season ranked No. 1 by ESPN/USA Today.
"This is a common thing teams go through," Savage said. "This isn't a catastrophe."
The offense has been in the middle of UCLA's woes. The Bruins are hitting just .245 as a team -- only Jeff Gelalich (.325) and Cody Keefer (.313) are above the .300 mark.
"We went up there maybe trying to do too much," said Gelalich, who had two of UCLA's four hits Sunday. "Maybe we got caught up in playing at Dodger Stadium."
Freshman pitcher Adam Plutko pitched well, allowing two runs and striking out eight in six innings. But Odom was slightly better.
"They know what they need to do," Savage said. "We just haven't been able to put our offensive days together. ... We're just not a very good team right now. We're disappointed but we have a lot of confidence in our players."
USC head coach Frank Cruz was pleased with the Trojans' fifth win of the year.
"This is a great opportunity to play here at Dodger Stadium against UCLA," Cruz said. "They're all excited to play at a big-league park with this great atmosphere."