A while after Sunday's 6-1 loss to UCLA in the finale of the inaugural Dodgertown Classic, USC coach Chad Kreuter stood with his team, huddled in the middle of right field at Dodger Stadium.
He didn't look happy.
A few minutes after the talk began, Kreuter let his pitchers go. But the position players stayed, a product of what Kreuter called "disappointing" clutch hitting in each of their three games over the weekend.
"It's two, three nights in a row where we had opportunities to score early runs, and we haven't — and that can't happen," Kreuter said. "We're preaching it, and that's why we're eyeballing the hitters and trying to put the onus on them."
The Trojans (3-4) had plenty of opportunities to score. In three of the first four innings, they had a runner at third with one out. Each time, they failed to drive the runner in successfully.
It resulted in a less than pleasant affair.
"It was fun — for the first six innings," second baseman Joe De Pinto said. "But we gotta hit, and we gotta finish the game, and we're not doing that.
"It's on us."
The Bruins (6-0) used a variety of pitchers to stymie USC. Rob Rasmussen started the game and lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up one run. Erik Goeddel provided 2 1/3 innings of no-hit relief, and lefthander Matt Grace and closer Dan Klein finished off the game.
USC starter Kevin Couture wasn't charged with any runs, but he recorded just five outs before exiting midway through the second after being hit by a comebacker. He will get X-rays on his right thumb — on Monday morning, Kreuter said. Reliever Ben Mount (0-1) picked up for Couture and pitched the third and fourth innings with ease but ran into trouble beginning in the fifth.
The Trojans' only one run came on back-to-back doubles by Cade Kreuter and Mike O'Neill in the fifth, but the Bruins put together a single, balk, error and double to score a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Then UCLA's Justin Uribe opened the floodgates with a two-out, two-run single in the seventh, and Niko Gallego added a homer as part of the Bruins' three-run eighth inning.
Notes: The announced attendance at the stadium was 14,588. The Trojans played before fewer than 400 fans on Friday and Saturday nights. Fans nearly filled the field level of the stadium and much of the left field pavilion. ... Also appearing in relief for the Trojans were righthanders Shuhei Fujiya and Ryan Cabral and lefthander Adam Dedeaux. ... Said De Pinto: "During the pregame, it looked like everybody was nervous. But after the first inning, that should really wear off."