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USC baseball team beats UCLA in Dodgertown Classic

Closer Chad Smith gets the Trojans out of a bases-loaded situation in the eighth inning and USC picks up a 2-0 win.

March 13, 2011|By Eric Sondheimer

With Dodger Dogs going for half price, Nancy Bea Hefley playing the organ and the USC and UCLA bands playing their schools' fight songs, the baseball game Sunday at Dodger Stadium between USC and UCLA produced an entertaining atmosphere for the crowd of 11,680.

It also gave a struggling USC team an opportunity to regain its bearings and create some excitement among its fans after a 2-0 victory over the Bruins thanks to an energetic performance from closer Chad Smith, who struck out Dean Espy with the bases loaded in the eighth and then ran off the field to the roar of the crowd.

"You can't ask for anything better," Smith said.

The game was part of the Dodgertown Classic and does not count in the Pacific 10 Conference standings. But USC (5-10), which has not made the NCAA playoffs since 2005 and finished last in the conference last season, is trying to become competitive again under interim Coach Frank Cruz.

"This team is trying to get over the hump losing a lot of close games," Cruz said. "To be able to win a game like this against a quality team like UCLA is important for their confidence."

UCLA (8-6), once ranked No. 2 in the nation in one poll, continues to suffer from hitting woes. The Bruins were held to four hits and wasted a good pitching performance by freshman Adam Plutko, who struck out eight in six innings.

"We have to get a lot better," UCLA Coach John Savage said. "We're an average team right now. We know we have abilities to be real good, but we need a different mind-set and a different approach because the one that's out there right now is clearly not working."

USC starter Logan Odom gave up four hits in 71/3 innings and earned the win. Ricky Oropesa hit a run-scoring single in the third inning and Adam Landecker singled in a run in the fourth for USC.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latsondheimer

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