USC: Kevin Roundtree

Baseball: Walk-off homer gives UCLA the series sweep

May, 16, 2010
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday's series finale and a UCLA runner on first, USC coach Chad Kreuter held a meeting at the mound with his pitcher and catcher to discuss the plan to pitch to UCLA's Cody Keefer.

Having in large part shut out the Bruins' offense for 8 2/3 innings, USC was ahead, 1-0 — one out away from what would have been the Trojans' first 1-0 victory since 2002. Kreuter said he told righthander Chad Smith and catcher Kevin Roundtree to pound the ball on the outside of the strike zone to Keefer, a lefthanded hitter.

"We're gonna call it," Kreuter recalled saying. "Stick with it. Don't deviate off it."

But when Kreuter put his head down in the dugout with the count at 2-1 to Keefer, he missed a crucial deviation from Smith. The sophomore shook off Roundtree's call for an outside pitch, instead choosing to deliver a fastball directly in Keefer's wheelhouse.

Cue a two-run walk-off homer. Cue massive celebration from the UCLA dugout. Cue a 2-1 victory for the Bruins in front of 1,531 fans at Jackie Robinson Stadium and a 3-0 series sweep over USC.

"That pitch never should've been thrown in that situation," a livid Kreuter said after the game. "Our catcher should've known better and our pitcher should've known better — especially since I had just had that meeting on the mound."

Before the fateful pitch, Smith had been on point for the Trojans. Relieving starter Kevin Couture (five innings, two hits, no runs) to start off the sixth inning, Smith had kept the Bruins scoreless in his first three innings of work and appeared to be in line to earn his third save of the season.

But the pitch changed things around quickly. Kreuter and assistants Frank Cruz, Tom House and Doyle Wilson held a meeting in right field after the game with the pitchers and catchers to discuss the play.

"We basically had an air-out session — I don't know if it's called an air-out — it's a come-to-Jesus moment, with what happened there," Kreuter said.

Offensively, USC (23-28, 5-16 in the Pac-10) struggled to put together rallies against UCLA starter Rob Rasmussen. Only twice did the Trojans have more than four at-bats in an inning, and only four USC players reached the basepaths — shortstop Joe De Pinto (2-for-4), designated hitter Cade Kreuter (2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI), second baseman Adam Landecker (2-for-4) and right fielder Garret Houts (1-for-3). Kreuter's solo homer to left in the top of the fourth was USC's only score of the day.

USC was outscored 30-10 by UCLA in the three-game series. UCLA's vaunted triumvirate of weekend starters — Rasmussen and righthanders Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole — had a so-so weekend, combining to throw 19 innings and allow eight runs, but the Bruins bullpen often picked up the slack.

"You have to tip your hat to their pitching staff," Kreuter said. "That is one of the best pitching staffs in the country right there, bar none."

Notes: The homer was UCLA's first of the walk-off variety since February 23, 2008...USC center fielder Mike O'Neill's hit streak ended at 13 with his 0-for-4 performance Sunday...With two strikeouts in Sunday's game, the younger Kreuter notched his way to the fourth-highest single-season strikeout total in USC history. Kreuter now has 54 strikeouts in 126 at-bats on the season.

Baseball: Trojans sweep visiting Utes

May, 9, 2010
Three up, three down for USC.

The streaking Trojans (23-24) managed their first sweep of the 2010 season with a three-game thrashing of visiting Utah, concluding with Sunday's 11-6 win at Dedeaux Field. USC got three hits from catcher Kevin Roundtree and two hits from three others to break open the game, posting four runs each in the third and eighth innings.

Logan Odom started on the mound but exited early after giving up four runs, meaning reliever Chad Smith was called on for the second consecutive day. The sophomore delivered once again, firing 4 1/3 one-run innings to earn his second win in as many games.

First baseman Ricky Oropesa hit his 13th homer of the season for USC and reached base twice. Shortstop Joe De Pinto hit a big three-run homer in the eighth to break open the game.

Utah (19-24) had an opportunity to pile on the runs in the top of the first inning but came up empty with the bases loaded and no outs. After left fielder Gavin Green tripled to lead off the game and scored on a throwing error by USC's Ryan Bast, the Utes put together a walk, an error and a bunt single to load the bases. But Odom struck out the next two Utah players and forced right fielder Rick Cornu to ground into a fielder's choice.

Just one day after hitting a walk-off double to win the game for USC, cleanup hitter Cade Kreuter struggled, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. The freshman designated hitter now has 47 strikeouts in 114 at-bats on the season.

The Trojans have won four straight and six of their last seven games -- their best such streaks of the year -- and look to face Long Beach State on Wednesday in an attempt to reach .500 for the first time since April 9.

Baseball continues slide, falls to UCSB

April, 27, 2010
And the struggles persist for USC baseball. The Trojans lost their second straight game and ninth in their last 11 Tuesday, falling 5-4 at UC Santa Barbara.

Boosted by a strong start from spot starter Logan Odom and a four-run first inning, USC (17-23) looked to have a handle on the game. But the Gauchos fought back, slowly but surely, with two runs in the third and fifth.

With the score tied 4-4 in the seventh, UCSB outfielder Ryan Tregoning hit a solo homer to break the tie, and the Trojans couldn't score again. For the day, USC committed three errors, not helping matters.

Odom started and lasted just three innings but didn't give up an earned run. Senior Shuhei Fujiya came in and pitched two innings in relief, giving up two runs, but southpaw Brad Douthit took the loss after giving up the homer to Tregoning.

For USC, outfielder Mike O'Neill doubled to lead off the game and the Trojans followed with five singles within the inning, forcing UCSB starter Greg Davis to exit the game after just one inning. Ricky Oropesa, Alex Sherrod and Kevin Roundtree were credited with RBI singles.

USC hasn't won consecutive games since March 21-26 against Pacific, Pepperdine and Stanford. The Trojans haven't won a series since earlier that month, against Hawaii. Defense has been a problem all year long, as USC ranks 102nd in the nation in fielding percentage at .965. The team's 52 errors are good for an average of 1.3 per game.

Notes: Oropesa, with 11 homers on the season, is just two away from his total last year. His .342 average is 28 percentage points better than last year's .314. ... In other baseball news, the Los Angeles Dodgers are hosting their second annual USC Night on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. The first 20,000 fans in attendance will receive a cardinal and gold-colored Dodgers hat, and fans who choose to sit in the "My Town" section get a USC-edition Dodgertown shirt and an all-inclusive menu. More information here.



C. Kessler452315382639
J. Allen27614895.411
J. Davis1295954.64
N. Agholor104131312.612
J. Smith5472413.45