UCLA – USC Baseball: Bruins Beat Trojans at Dodger Stadium, 6-1


This past Sunday I saw a real treat.

The baseball teams from UCLA and USC clashed in the first Dodgertown Classic at Dodger Stadium, a college baseball round robin tournament sponsored by the Dodgers.

To say that it was a huge success would be a pronounced understatement, as not only did 14,588 show up when a crowd of about three or four thousand was expected, they had to open up the left and right field pavilions because the field level couldn’t hold everyone.

And in another incredible turn of events, the lines at the food concessions ran long, with people wailting up to two hours to buy food due to the fact that not enough workers were there. They actually ran out of Dodger Dogs, if that can be believed. Imagine a game at Chavez Ravine without Dodger Dogs!

Considering that it was February with Spring Training games still a few days away, the atmosphere was electrifying. The crowd was split 50 /50 between Bruin and Trojan fans; even the two bands were there playing their fight songs and helping to pump the crowd up.

A new aspect of the crosstown war was certainly born that day, no doubt helped by the way the game commenced.

It was a tight, well played affair for the first 6 1/2 innings, as the pitchers kept both teams at bay. UCLA left fielder Cody Keefer, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, excited the Bruin faithful when he gunned down USC’s Mike Hart trying to score in the 4th.

After both teams traded runs in the sixth, the Bruins exploded for five runs in the 7th and 8th innings. Justin Uribe singled up the middle off Trojan pitcher Shuhei Fujiya to score two runs and take a 3-1 advantage, then Niko Gallego blasted a solo home run into the left field pavilion to lead off the eighth, as UCLA added three runs to pull away sending the blue-clad fans into a frenzy and the cardinal and gold followers to the exits.

Bruin closer Dan Klein retired the side in the ninth, striking out the last two Trojan batters and pleasing a Bruin Nation that has suffered mostly defeat at the hands of the various USC teams such as football and basketball this year.

UCLA’s win over ‘SC raised their record to 6-0, solidified their ranking in the top 25, and gave the Bruins their best start since 1997, which incidentally was the last time they went to the College World Series.

USC’s record fell to 3-4, an uncharacteristically slow start for them.

This contest between the crosstown enemies showed me two things:

1.   That baseball is still right up there with football as the national pastime; having nearly 15,000 people show up to watch two college teams in late winter should more than convince people of that, and…

2.   As was previously said, this could well be a brilliant new aspect of the crosstown rivalry between the two schools.

That’s why it would be a very good idea to have the Bruin and Trojan baseball programs play a game at Dodger Stadium every year; It would generate good publicity for both college baseball and baseball in general, give the fans of both schools something to look forward to, and get excited about in a sport that’s more or less under the mainstream radar in L.A.

In the meantime, I’ll be satisfied with the memory of UCLA beating their crosstown enemies in the Bruins’ first ever appearance at Dodger Stadium, and hope that the people in the charge of the Dodgertown Classic and the two schools’ athletic departments see the wisdom in making this clash an annual event.