UCLA's Christoph Bono hit a bases-loaded chopper behind the Dodger Stadium mound in the 14th inning and the ball slid under USC shortstop Reggie Southall's glove, allowing two runs to score, giving the Bruins a 5-3 victory in the finale of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic.
"It's an outstanding experience for everyone," Bono said. "I think we gave the fans something they will remember and definitely something we will remember for the rest of our lives."
Behind strong pitching, UCLA went 3-0 in the event, beating No. 20 Mississippi State, Oklahoma and the No. 21 Trojans. Freshman Kyle Molnar started for UCLA on Sunday and allowed three runs in the first two innings before settling in with three straight scoreless innings. UCLA Coach John Savage turned the game over to his bullpen and they produced zero after zero. Five relievers combined for nine innings without allowing a run.
Closer Brian Gadsby pitched four innings, giving up only one hit. Scott Burke then pitched the final three innings. Burke didn't allow a hit until the 14th inning when USC tried to rally to match UCLA's two-run top half of the inning. Reggie Southall and Lars Nootbaar both lined singles and were sacrificed into scoring position for USC's most dangerous hitters, Jeremy Martinez and Timmy Robinson. Burke buckled down, getting both Martinez and Robinson to fly out to end the game and strand the tying runs on second and third.
"It was one for the ages really, in terms of how well that game was played," said Savage, who earned his 400th win at UCLA. "I've very proud of us and our bullpen. I think a lot of guys grew up today."
USC took an early lead when AJ Ramirez's two-out deep fly to right field was misplayed. Ramirez raced around to third base for a triple while two runs scored. The Trojans added another run the following inning on a squeeze bunt by Nootbaar.
UCLA got on the board in the third inning when Brett Stephens doubled and scored on an infield single by Eric Filia. Stephens tied the score the next inning with a two-run triple into the right field corner.
Despite numerous scoring opportunities over the next nine innings, neither team could push a run across. For the game, UCLA left 15 men on base and USC stranded 13. Both teams left six men on base in extra innings, but none were as important as the final two stranded by Martinez and Robinson.
"It was like an exercise of futility, who's going to do the least and come out on top," USC Coach Dan Hubbs said. "At the end of the day, we had the tying run on second base with our guy up. We have to get a hit from the 3-4 guys."
UCLA picked up two big wins against likely first-round draft picks earlier in the weekend. With Grant Dyer out with a strained oblique, Griffin Canning took over the front-of-the-rotation Friday role and was magnificent against Mississippi State. Canning out-dueled Bulldogs ace Dakota Hudson, giving up five hits and one run in 8 2/3 innings for a 2-1 win.
On Saturday, the Bruins faced 100-mph fastball-wielding Alec Hansen of Oklahoma. Hansen held UCLA scoreless through the first six innings, but the Bruins scored four runs in the seventh inning and held on for a 4-2 win.
USC finished the event 1-2, beating Oklahoma 5-4 on Friday and losing 8-7 to Mississippi State on Saturday. The Trojans also left the tying run at third base to end that loss.