May 12, 2006
Los Angeles - UCLA scored five unanswered runs in the last four innings but could not erase an early 8-1 deficit as USC escaped with an 8-6 win over the Bruins on Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium in game one of the three-game series. The loss drops UCLA to 25-21 overall and 8-8 in the Pac-10 while USC improves to 25-23 and 11-8 in the Pac-10.
Junior Hector Ambriz (6-6) tossed 5.1 innings in the start, allowing seven runs on eight hits with five strikeouts in a losing effort, as UCLA stranded 12 runners on base.
USC took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as Matt Cusick led off the game with a home run to right field.
UCLA had runners at second and third and no outs in the bottom of the first inning but could not cash the opportunity in. Freshman Brandon Crawford led off with a walk and Curtis followed with a double down the right field line on a 0-2 count to advance Crawford to third. USC starter Ian Kennedy then struck out senior Chris Jensen, Ambriz and senior Brett McMillan in order to end the Bruin scoring threat.
The Trojans loaded the bases in the top of the second inning with two outs when Blake Sharpe singled through the left side on a full count to score two Trojans and put USC up 3-0.
USC went up 4-0 in the top of the fifth inning on a RBI single by Hector Estrella with two outs.
UCLA got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning to cut the Trojan lead to 4-1. Curtis was hit in the head by a pitch and then advanced to second on a balk by Kennedy. With two outs, Curtis stole third and then scored as USC catcher Johnny Bowden threw the ball into left field.
USC put up four runs in the top of the sixth inning to take an 8-1 lead over the Bruins. Sharpe's RBI single through the left side put USC up 5-1. With one out, freshman Jason Novak came in to pitch and walked Cyle Hankerd to load the bases. Novak then got USC designated hitter Baron Frost to pop out to center field for the second out of the inning. Junior Paul Oseguera came in to pitch in relief of Novak and walked pinch hitter Josh Fogel on four pitches to give USC a 6-1 lead. Estrella followed with a double to left field that scored two Trojans, but pinch runner Spencer Pabst was thrown out at home by Crawford trying to score from first to end the inning.
The Bruins scrapped for a run in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut the USC lead to 8-2. Senior Josh Roenicke reached on a fielding error by Sharpe at second base and advanced to second on a base hit to left by freshman Tim Murphy. Smith then grounded to shortstop, but Sharpe threw the ball away at first trying to turn a double play, allowing Roenicke to score from second base. With two outs, Kennedy then walked Crawford and Curtis to load the bases. Jensen followed with a line drive to right center field but Pabst made a diving catch to steal a sure extra-base hit away from Jensen to end the inning.
UCLA put one on the board in the seventh inning to put the score at 8-3. Roenicke grounded out to shortstop to drive in junior Will Penniall after he hit a pinch hit double to left field and advanced to third on a ground out.
In the bottom of the eighth, Smith hit a home run to left field to lead off the inning for the Bruins and cut the USC lead to 8-4.
UCLA would not go quietly in the ninth, as the Bruins rallied to score two runs in their last at bat to cut the deficit to 8-6. Jensen singled through the right side to lead off the inning, and Penniall followed with a walk to give UCLA runners at first and second. Senior Anthony Norman then hit a pinch hit single through the right side to load the bases up for UCLA with one out. Smith followed with a pop up that went straight up to Bowden behind the plate but landed fair a foot in front of home plate as Bowden missed played the ball to score Jensen from third and keep the bases loaded. USC reliever Paul Koss then threw a wild pitch to the backstop to score Penniall from third and cut the Trojan advantage to just two runs. With runners at second and third, pinch hitter Cody Decker was rung up on a high and outside called-third strike with a 1-2 count to end the game.
UCLA and USC will play game two of the three-game series on Saturday, May 13 at 4:30 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.