UCLA Rallies with Three-Run Ninth to Defeat USC, 7-6, and Win Lexus Gauntlet

April 14, 2007

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Los Angeles - Down to their last strike, the UCLA baseball team rallied behind clutch two-out hits from sophomores Brandon Crawford and Cody Decker in the top of the ninth to overcome a 6-4 deficit and defeat crosstown rival USC, 7-6, at Dedeaux Field on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins won the season series against the Trojans, extended their win streak against USC to four games and captured the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy.

With two outs and runners at second and third, Crawford lined an 0-and-2 base hit to left field, scoring sophomores Eddie Murray and Ryan Babineau to tie the score, 6-6. Crawford took second base on left fielder Lucas Duda's fielding error. Decker squirted a ground ball to the right side of the infield, bringing home Crawford from second to hand UCLA a 7-6 lead.

USC (19-17, 2-6 Pac-10) stranded runners at first and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth after Bruin right-hander Brant Rustich struck out USC shortstop Grant Green to record his team-leading sixth save. Left-hander Brendan Lafferty (3-0) threw 3.0 scoreless innings for UCLA (17-16, 7-1 Pac-10) and allowed just one hit while striking out one.

Decker finished 3-for-4 and second baseman Alden Carrithers hit 2-for-5. Each Bruin tallied one run, two RBI and one solo home run. Green posted a 3-for-5 effort at the plate to lead USC. Trojan right-hander Ryan Cook allowed four runs off eight hits through 6.2 innings, and right-hander Paul Koss (2-3) absorbed the loss, allowing three runs off three hits in the top of the ninth.

USC took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first and added another run in the second inning when third baseman Hector Rabago belted a home run to left field, giving USC a 4-0 advantage.

The Bruins scored in the fourth inning on Carrithers' solo home run, his second round-tripper of the season. USC regained its four-run cushion on a sacrifice fly to foul territory in right field by Owen, scoring shortstop Grant Green from third to lead 5-1.

Decker connected for his team-leading eighth home run in the top of the sixth, cutting the Trojans' lead to 5-2. USC responded with a solo home run by catcher Johnny Bowden in the bottom of the sixth. The Bruins added two runs in the top of the seventh and stranded runners at the corners to end the top of the seventh trailing 6-4.

UCLA concludes its three-game series at USC on Sunday at 1 p.m. Freshman left-hander Gavin Brooks will start for the Bruins and sophomore left-hander Anthony Vasquez will take the hill for the host Trojans.

Game Notes: With the series win over USC, the Bruins earned five points in the 2006-07 Lexus Gauntlet Challenge to reach the 57.5-point total needed to win the trophy - UCLA leads USC, 57.5 to 22.5 this season...Bruin left-hander Tim Murphy allowed five runs off seven hits in 4.1 innings...Murphy struck out three hitters and issued two walks...UCLA trailed by as many as four runs twice.

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