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Ninth-inning home run by Cody Keefer gives UCLA win

May 16, 2010 |  4:08 pm

For 8 2/3 innings Sunday, USC held UCLA scoreless in a Pacific 10 Conference baseball game. Then freshman Cody Keefer hit a 2-and-1 pitch over the fence in right field for a two-run home run off Chad Smith to give UCLA a 2-1 victory over USC and a series sweep.

It was another frustrating defeat for the last-place Trojans (23-28 overall, 5-16 in the Pac-10), who got exceptional starting pitching from Kevin Couture (five scoreless innings, two hits) and a solo home run from freshman Cade Kreuter.

Smith, in his fourth inning of relief, got the first two outs of the ninth. Then Brett Krill singled, and Keefer delivered the game-winner, boosting UCLA to 37-11 overall and 13-8 in the Pac-10.

Now, the question is what's the future for USC Coach Chad Kreuter?

The Trojans could finish in last place in the Pac-10 for the second time in Kreuter's four seasons. Trojans fans are wondering what if?

What if some of the recruits who committed to USC in the last four seasons had shown up instead of signing professional contracts? This season, the starting shortstop would be Mike Moustakas, the No. 1 prospect in minor league baseball from the Kansas City Royals organization.

One of the starting outfielders would be Mike Stanton, the home-run hitting prospect from the Florida Marlins organization. The third baseman would be Matt Davidson, hitting .324 in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.

And that’s been one of the big problems with Kreuter. He made judgments that didn’t pan out, and there were not the kind of talented backups available to replace the recruits who decided to pass on college for a signing bonus.

Kreuter got his job four years ago when Mike Gillespie, his father-in-law, was forced out. Gillespie has gone on to keep the UC Irvine program going strong, and the question is whether Kreuter will be dismissed after the Trojans’ final game this season, which is May 30 against Washington.

USC has won 12 national championships in baseball, but the school is focused on dealing with coming news regarding the NCAA investigation into the football and basketball teams, which could be the distraction Kreuter needs to keep his job. More likely, not even agent Scott Boras, whose son, Shane, is an infielder for the Trojans, will be able to bail out Kreuter.

-- Eric Sondheimer