[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text](Dodger Stadium) For avid college baseball fans, you couldn’t have asked for a better venue to be the neutral site of the biggest rivalry in the NCAA and college sports…USC (8-4) vs. UCLA (10-3). In this case, the levelest and best playing field of the season was MLB’s Dodger Stadium as the Trojans took on the #11 nationally ranked Bruins in a unique Sunday doubleheader competitive format last March 11th. The two teams faced off with each other after the #21 nationally ranked Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the Texas Christian Univ. (TCU) Horned Frogs (Final:7-4) in the opening game of the 2018 “Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic.”
Here’s our first-time coverage of this Classic as we bring you our written story and our extensive Photo Gallery that follows.
Game Recap: Under overcast skies and a cool 60 degree temperature, the game began in a routine manner, although the aura of the longtime, traditional rivalry could very well be discerned in the Stadium.
UCLA 1st: The Bruins had first at-bats but were held scoreless.
USC 1st: Then, in the bottom of the inning, Trojan left-handed hitter, and number two in the batting order, #11 Lars Nootbar, scorched a line drive directly at the Bruin right-handed starter, #11 Jon Olsen. Unfortunately, he could not react in time to avoid being struck. He took a direct hit to the right side of his face and fell hard to the mound. He was immediately attended to by the Bruin team trainer and medical staff. After several profound minutes lying face down, Olsen shook out his legs, gathered himself, stood up with the aid of his trainers, and was then greeted by a thunderous round of applause from the 9,400 fans in attendance as he was escorted into the dugout and then taken to a medical facility for X-rays and other medical attention. Head Coach John Savage, (14th season), then replaced him with #24 Zach Pettway. Pressed into such a quick appearance due to the injury, Pettway managed to retire the side after inheriting two Trojan runners on base. He would go on to pitch a brilliant reliever-starter effort going 6.1 innings, striking out 7, but yielding 2 earned runs.
UCLA 3rd…The Bruins got on the scoreboard first with a manufactured run and took the first lead of the game, 1-0.
USC 4th…the Trojans put up their 1st run to tie the game at 1-1. when 1B #24 Dillon Paulson, belted his 2nd home run of the season.
UCLA 5th.. After loading the bases with 1 out, USC pulled its starter, #51 Quentin Lingerie (4.1 innings) and inserted, their first reliever, #28 Kyle Hurt. He was a little off form and got himself into a jam, but then settled down to strike out #18 Jeremy Ydens. With 2 out and the bases loaded, #7 Michael Toglia came to bat, drew a walk, and earned an RBI while giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead. Hurt then got the next batter out to retire the side.
In the Bruin 7th, 5th year USC Head Coach, Dan Hubbs, made a strategic pitching change and brought in his second reliever, #42 Brian Gursky, another leftie, who held them scoreless in his 1.2 innings of relief.
USC 7th... #5 Blake Sabol led off with a clean triple. #16 Jamal O’Guinn then hit a shot up the middle but it bounced off Pettway’s leg and was then fielded by the 1st baseman who tried to nail the runner at home, but was a second too late. It resulted in a fielder’s choice RBI, evening the score at 2-2. Pettway was lifted at that point. #32 Ryan Garcia came on as his replacement. Then, #9 Angelo Armenta greeted him with a long single to the right field corner advancing O’Guinn to 3rd. Only 1 out at this point. Garcia struck out pinch hitter, #25 John Thomas. He was then replaced by #27 Garrett Barker, a left hander. Coach Savage’s decision paid quick dividends as the next Trojan batter struck out to end the inning with no further damage.
UCLA 8th..The Bruins continued to face #42 Brian Gursky to start the inning. He gave up a walk, then a fly out, followed by another single, and a ground out. At this point, with runners on 1st and 3rd, the third Trojan reliever, #35 Connor Lunn, was brought in by Coach Hubbs to get the final out of the inning, which he did. He left both runners stranded to close the door on the Bruins. Score remained tied at 2-2.
USC 8th…With 1 out and the bases empty, #11 Lars Nootbar, cranked a deep, solo Home Run to right field (@375 ft.) giving the Trojans their first lead of the game at that point…USC 3-UCLA 2.
UCLA 9th…The most dramatic moments of the game were saved for the final Bruin at bat. After two quick put-outs, the Bruins laced back-to-back singles putting runners on the corners. The Trojans closer, Connor Lunn, dug in, then stood the test of some gigantic pressure and fanned #33 Chase Strumph, who was caught looking, for the final out. Lunn was credited with the win and moved his record to (1-1). Final score: USC 3, UCLA 2. Time: 3:25
At the time of this writing, and with the victory, the Trojans moved to (9-4), while the Bruins dropped to (10-4). To follow the Bruins in the PAC-12 Conference, click here. For the Trojans, click here. To see the current PAC-12 standings, click here. The game was broadcast “Live” by the PAC-12 Network and will be shown on their Encore format. Please like and share this with your social media networks.
Photo Credits: Anthony Ramirez Photography for EastLASportsScene.Com