UCLA baseball coach John Savage had some simple yet true words of wisdom after the Dodgertown Classic concluded Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
“If you don’t score more than the other team, you don’t win,” he said.
The No. 13 Bruins (8-6) didn’t score more runs than the other team in two out of their three games over the weekend, falling to Georgia (8-8) 6-2 on Friday and USC (5-10) 2-0 on Sunday for their third series loss in as many weekends. UCLA’s lone win of the weekend came in a 10-2 thrashing of St. Mary’s (3-9) on Saturday.
As has been the case all season for Savage’s team, the pitching was there, but the hitting didn’t make the trip downtown. After pounding out 15 hits Saturday, the Bruins could muster just four Sunday.
“We’re just not piecing together enough quality at-bats to where we’re not putting any pressure on anybody,” Savage said. “That needs to change. They know what they need to do.”
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of UCLA’s hitting slump has been the stellar efforts coming from the Bruin pitching staff. Junior Gerrit Cole threw six and a third innings of perfect baseball Friday and freshman Adam Plutko struck out eight Trojans in six innings Sunday.
“We all want to go out there and put up runs for (our pitchers),” said sophomore right fielder Jeff Gelalich, who is leading the team in batting average. “We’re disappointed that we haven’t been able to do that lately.”
The rivalry game wore on without any big home runs or late-inning heroics. UCLA’s best opportunity to score came in the eighth inning when USC went through four pitchers and hit two UCLA batters while loading the bases. Junior Dean Espy had a chance to bring the Bruins back into it, but struck out swinging.
UCLA will not have a midweek game for the second week in a row, giving the team nearly a week to prepare for a road series at Cal Poly.
“You keep looking for those buttons to push,” Savage said. “That’s what coaches do. We believe in our system. We believe in our program.”
The Classic continues
The attendance at the second-annual Dodgertown Classic was down by nearly 3,000 compared to a season ago.
Last year’s event was played in late February and didn’t coincide with “Selection Sunday” for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, as this year’s did.
Nonetheless, Savage wants to see the event continue.
“It’s a great event and one that we’re going to keep doing every year,” he said. “My hat is off to the Dodgers and their generosity towards this event.”
The crowd was split into a nearly equal number of UCLA and USC fans, the USC fans making the most noise when Espy struck out to end the Bruins’ rally hopes.
Plutko said he wasn’t affected by the daunting task of pitching at Dodger Stadium.
“I’ve pitched in a few big stadiums before, so I had that experience,” he said. “It’s a little different, of course. There’s a little different buzz around the crowd but it wasn’t something totally new for me.”