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Saturday, May 15, 2010
Baseball: USC drops second game to UCLA

By Pedro Moura

Now that wasn't pretty.

On a gloomy Saturday afternoon in Westwood, the No. 11 Bruins took a bat to the visiting Trojans — literally. UCLA's power-packed offense scored five runs in the fourth and sixth innings and 15 runs overall while starter Trevor Bauer limited USC to two runs in seven innings of work as the Bruins cruised to a 15-2 victory before 1,360 fans at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

USC (23-27, 5-14 in the Pac-10) committed only one error in the game, but, for the second straight day, a number of possible outs were lost with misplays by the Trojans' defense. USC coach Chad Kreuter recited a mental list of each of the plays after the game before resorting to what has been a common refrain from him in recent weeks.

"It's embarassing, what happened there," Kreuter said. "We can't catch balls, again."

The Trojans scored first, putting together a run in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by Ricky Oropesa. On the mound, USC starter Chris Mezger escaped the first three innings relatively unscathed but ran into trouble in the fourth, when an error, five hits and a wild pitch gave the Bruins five runs.

Earlier in the inning, the unraveling began for the Trojans. With runners on first and second and no outs, freshman designated hitter Cade Kreuter was picked off at second. Only a few pitches later, the inning was over and USC wouldn't score again until the seventh inning.

"That's a big momentum swing for them," Kreuter aid simply.

UCLA (36-11, 12-8) was led by second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla, who went three for five with an RBI hitting out of the third spot in the lineup. Every player in the lineup for the Bruins recorded at least one hit, with UCLA totaling 20 hits on the day. Bauer, a sophomore righthander who Kreuter recruited out of high school, wasn't on his game.  He issued a career-high six walks and gave up seven hits but struck out 11 Trojans.

"Bauer was off," Kreuter said. "But he's still extremely good, because his stuff is amazing."

In 13 games against UCLA over his four-year tenure, Kreuter is now 3-10. Asked to explain his lack of success against the school, the coach said the two teams had different levels of depth — especially pitching-wise, where Kreuter said USC is "running on fumes."

That doesn't bode well for Sunday's game, where USC will turn to senior right-hander Kevin Couture to oppose UCLA left-hander Rob Rasmussen. In 12 starts, Couture has posted a 6.83 ERA; Rasmussen's ERA is 3.36.

Notes: USC center fielder Mike O'Neill extended his season-high hitting streak to 13 games with an eighth-inning single. ... With his 11-strikeout performance, Bauer supplanted teammate Gerrit Cole as the Pac-10's leader in strikeouts. Bauer leads Cole 111-109 in that category. ... UCLA's 36 wins are the most for the program since the Bruins posted a 36-28 record in 2000.