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COLLEGE ROUNDUP

Adams' Message Razor Sharp

March 10, 2003|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Even before he watched his team get shut out by Loyola Marymount on Tuesday, UCLA baseball Coach Gary Adams did something he hadn't done in more than three decades.

He shaved his mustache. Not exactly earth-shattering but it did shake up the Bruins.

"I wanted to show that I'm making a big change," Adams said after the Bruins trounced USC, 17-5, Sunday. "We needed to change our approach at the plate. What we were doing wasn't working."

UCLA (12-12) has been inconsistent, but it won its first series against the 18th-ranked Trojans (9-10) in three years. The Bruins had a season-high 20 hits Sunday, led by Ryan McCarthy's home run, double and single, and Preston Griffin's three hits and three runs batted in.

Moreover, the Bruins showed what Adams has been trying to preach. They took advantage of wildness by starter Fraser Dizard to send 15 batters to the plate in the first inning and score 10 runs.

UCLA posted two victories over USC and victories over nationally ranked Texas and Tulane the last two weekends. But the Bruins also haven't won more than two in a row.

"We're playing well against the good teams," Adams said. "Hopefully, something like this is going to give us momentum."

Dizard's start only magnified a problem for the Trojans, whose pitching staff has been erratic.

Though he had a quality start in a victory over Nevada Las Vegas on Tuesday, Dizard has been knocked out in the first inning of his last two weekend starts. Against UCLA, the junior lasted only six batters, walking five. All scored.

Projected ace Anthony Reyes remains sidelined because of pain in his right elbow, sophomore Brett Bannister hasn't pitched because of a strained elbow ligament and reliever Jon Williams also is injured.

"We've certainly been frustrated with the performance of some guys and the lack of availability of other guys," Coach Mike Gillespie said.

In a matchup of top 10 teams, Long Beach State (13-6) took the final two games of a series at Baylor and ended the sixth-ranked Bears' 11-game winning streak. Freshman Cesar Ramos pitched 6 1/3 innings for his first victory and freshman Troy Tulowitzki hit his first home run in the 49ers' 7-1 victory Sunday.

UC Riverside (16-3) continued its torrid start by rolling past Oral Roberts and St. Mary's, 12-3 and 10-2, in its tournament. Outfielder Brian Wahlbrink had four hits in each game, and the Highlanders had 34 hits. Pitchers Jaymie Torres and A.J. Shappi remained undefeated.

After winning nine of 10 games, Loyola Marymount (10-7) dropped the first two to UC Santa Barbara but Justin Abreu pitched into the ninth inning in the Lions' 8-5 victory Sunday. Solid starts by a rotation that features Abreu (2-1, 3.60 earned-run average), Vince Cordova (2-0, 2.78), Joshua Muecke (1-1, 4.56) and Kyle Huddy (2-2, 2.25) have Coach Frank Cruz feeling optimistic.

"When you have four guys going like that, everybody is trying to compete with each other to get better," Cruz said. "Nobody wants to lose a spot on the weekend."

Pitching also has powered Pepperdine (10-5) to a 3-0 start in the West Coast Conference with a sweep of visiting Gonzaga. Junior Brandon Boesch threw a two-hitter in an 8-0 victory Friday, and Greg Ramirez pitched a complete game in a 5-3 win Saturday. The Waves have an ERA of 3.92.

*

Senior Erik Vendt won three events in the Pacific 10 Conference men's swimming championships at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, becoming the first Trojan swimmer in 26 years to win three conference titles in the same meet.

Vendt has won seven Pac-10 titles. He won the 500-yard freestyle Thursday, the 400 individual medley Friday and finished by setting a conference meet record in winning the 1,650 freestyle. Joe Bottom of USC won three events in the 1977 Pac-8 meet.

Junior J.D. Abercrombie won the 200 butterfly and freshman Mihaly Flaskay won the 100 breaststroke for the Trojans, who finished third as a team. Stanford won its 22nd consecutive conference title.

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