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He’s a Hit Too Soon For USD

Eric Karros is smart enough to know that cleanup hitters who don’t get hits and don’t drive in runs aren’t cleanup hitters for long, no matter what they have done before.

So Karros, an All-Pacific 10 Conference first baseman a year ago, was getting a bit concerned when he went 0 for 7 and didn’t drive in any runs in UCLA’s first two college baseball games this season.

But in his first at-bat against the University of San Diego Friday, Karros got his first RBI, and his second time up, he got his first hit. And he had four more hits and four more RBIs to lead UCLA to an 11-6 victory at Cunningham Stadium.

The loss left the Toreros 0-2 and starting to wonder when the first victory of what was supposed to be a promising 1988 season would occur. Today, USD will play its third consecutive home game against Cal Poly Pomona at 1 p.m.

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“We know we’re going to have a good ballclub this season,” USD Coach John Cunningham said. “But, so far, we just haven’t played well.”

As a sophomore last season, Karros, who attended Patrick Henry High School in San Diego, set a school record with 23 doubles, hit .312 and had 57 RBIs in 66 games.

“They expect me to drive in some runs for this team, and I was beginning to wonder when I might get things going,” Karros said.

It didn’t take long Friday. In the first inning, his groundout drove in the first run, and in the third inning, a single to left erased the .000 batting average next to his name. By the end of his 5-for-6 day, Karros was hitting .385.

He had a another single during a three-run UCLA fourth, and after Mike Hankins’ RBI triple in the fifth, the Bruins seemed to be cruising, 6-2. But in the bottom of the inning, USD’s Dave Rolls hit his second home run of the season, a grand slam to right field off Mike Magnante, to tie the score at 6-6.

But USD had only two hits the rest of the way against Bruin reliever Mike Lewis, a freshman left-hander who picked up his first college victory.

Karros snapped the tie in the eighth with a two-run, bases-loaded single off USD’s bullpen ace, Mark Manor. Manor faced 14 batters in 1 innings and allowed four hits and two walks and hit two batters.

“As a group, our pitchers have got to start going after some hitters,” said Cunningham, whose pitchers walked nine UCLA batters and hit four more. “If we keep giving up 10 or 11 runs each game, it doesn’t matter what our hitting does.”

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