USC: Trevor Bauer

Oropesa named second-team All-American

June, 16, 2010
6/16/10
11:18
PM PT
USC first baseman Ricky Oropesa picked up second-team All-American honors Wednesday, capping off a productive sophomore season in which he hit .353 with 20 homers and 67 RBI.

Baseball America put Oropesa on its second team, alongside designated hitter Zack Cox, a first-round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals, and a number of the nation's other top players.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder, who also spent some time at the hot corner this season, was a 24th-round selection of the Boston Red Sox after his senior year of high school. He earned Pac-10 honorable mention honors after his freshman season and first-team honors this year.

His two-year totals at USC include 33 homers, putting him sixth on the Trojans' all-time list and 21 short of the USC record held by Mark McGwire. Oropesa hit two or more homers three times this season, including a three-homer game against Washington on May 28.

Anchoring a weak USC lineup from the No. 3 spot all season long, Oropesa also hit a walk-off homer in a key extra-inning win over New Mexico State earlier in May.

Oropesa was also one of six local players to make one of the publication's three teams, with Cal State Fullerton's Christian Colon, Gary Brown and Noe Ramirez earning first-, second- and third-team honors and UCLA's Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole named to the second and third teams.

Baseball: Walk-off homer gives UCLA the series sweep

May, 16, 2010
5/16/10
6:46
PM PT
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: USC drops second game to UCLA

May, 15, 2010
5/15/10
6:55
PM PT
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.

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