In a wild back-and-forth contest, the 13th-ranked UCLA Baseball team edged out rivals USC by a score of 6-5 at Dedeaux Field on the campus of USC on Sunday afternoon.
Junior David Berg picked up the win with 2.2 innings in relief while Nigel Nootbaar took the loss for the Trojans after allowing a run in 0.2 innings of work. Sophomore Cody Poteet started the game for the Bruins, allowing three runs (one earned) in 6.1 innings pitched while striking out one.
After a scoreless first two innings, UCLA threatened in the top of the third, getting runners on first and second with one out off of USC starter Bob Wheatley. However, senior Kevin Williams grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on the next at-bat to end the inning.
Poteet did his part to keep the Trojan offense at bay in the early going, allowing just three base runners through his first five innings of work. Then in the bottom of the sixth, USC grabbed the lead starting when Garrett Stubbs reached on an error by freshman Luke Persico at second. A sacrifice bunt moved Stubbs to second, bringing up Blake Lacey. Lacey then hit a double to left to bring home Stubbs and break the scoreless tie. Two batters later Lacey came around to score when AJ Ramirez laid down a squeeze bunt to allow him to come home, giving the Trojans a two-run lead.
UCLA would take the lead back in the top of the seventh though with a four-run frame. With two outs, junior Chris Keck reached on an error by Lacey at short and on the next at-bat senior Brian Carroll got hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Williams then stepped in and hit a single through the left side, scoring Keck and cutting USC’s lead to one. After an intentional walk to Zeile loaded the bases, Persico came up and reached on another USC error, allowing Carroll to come home to tie the game. Sophomore Ty Moore then put the Bruins ahead with a single to center to score a pair and give UCLA the 4-2 lead.
The Trojans would get another run in the bottom of the seventh, as with the bases loaded Jeff Paschke scored on a fielder’s choice by Lacey, making it 4-3 Bruins. Berg, who had entered earlier in the inning, hung tough and got a groundout from Kevin Swick to end the threat and keep UCLA ahead. Keck then added an insurance run for the Bruins in the top eighth, crushing his first home run of the year off Kyle Davis to bring UCLA’s lead back up to two.
USC came back in the bottom half of the inning though, scoring a pair of runs to tie the game at 5-5. After Berg loaded the bases with no outs, he recovered to get the first out by gunning down Ramirez at the plate on a comebacker to the mound. The next batter was pinch-hitter Joe Corrigan, who hit a grounder to short that looked to be an inning-ending double play. The Bruins got the lead runner at second, but Persico’s throw from second sailed high and over senior Pat Gallagher’s head at first, allowing two USC runners to come home to even the game at 5-5.
Again the tie would be short-lived though, as the Bruins came back with a run in the top of the ninth to go back up by a run. After Zeile reached on an infield single to leadoff and moved to second on a sacrifice, Moore walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Sophomore Christoph Bono then stepped in and came through, smacking a single through the right side to bring in Zeile and put UCLA ahead 6-5.
In the bottom of the ninth, Berg put runners on first and second with one out, but worked out of it, getting a foul out and a groundout to end the game and give the Bruins the victory.
Overall, Zeile led the Bruins at the plate with a 4-4 game that included two runs. Moore also posted a multi-hit game, going 2-3 with two RBI while Keck went 1-5 with a RBI and two runs scored.
The Bruins (8-7) will now head back home this Tuesday for a midweek contest against UC Irvine (11-3) at 6 p.m. out at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Game Notes: UCLA has now won 24 of the last 29 meetings against USC, including the last nine…John Savage improved his record against USC to 24-9 since he took over as UCLA head coach in the summer of 2004…Cody Poteet did not allow a USC hitter to reach second base through his first five innings pitched...Poteet has allowed just one earned run now in his last 16.1 innings pitched…David Berg has now won his last 10 decisions dating back to 2012…in three games this weekend, Shane Zeile went 8-12 with six runs and four RBI…Brian Carroll has now reached base safely in the last 11 games…only four of the 11 runs scored in today’s game were earned...UCLA is now 48-0 in the last two seasons when leading after seven innings.