Pat Valaika (10) rounds 3rd base vs. USC, Credit: Jeff Poirier
Before the Bruins baseball team even arrived at Dedeaux Field last weekend, UCLA had already clinched the Crosstown Gauntlet by owning Southern Cal in head-to-head competition throughout the year. In fact, the Trojans were eliminated from contention in the first week of May after the UCLA men’s golf team placed second (compared to USC’s seventh) at the Pac-12 Championships.
The annually-awarded Crosstown Gauntlet trophy, which is meant to track overall athletic department success, was originally sponsored by Lexus, but the funding was dropped in 2009. Since then, UCLA and USC have kept tabs on the score and named the winner accordingly. For the past five years in a row, the Trojans won the archaic glove.
But the streak is officially over in 2013, as the Bruins crushed their L.A. counterparts, 65-50, behind big wins in football and men’s tennis, sweeps in men’s volleyball and women’s basketball, and now a sweep in baseball.
UCLA baseball could have come up empty at ‘SC over the weekend and still had enough points to claim the Gauntlet. So in reality, there probably wasn’t much—likely zero—discussion of it in preparation for the Trojans. But still, as we sit here three wins richer in the storied intracity rivalry, it feels good to see the Bruins take care of business and put the finishing touches on a strong year of competition.
But of course, their season isn’t over—it’s actually just starting to heat up. UCLA has four more regular season contests, including a pivotal Pac-12 series at Stanford, before the postseason begins. The Bruins are expected to host an NCAA Regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium for the fourth consecutive year, and could also host Super Regionals if everything falls into place. And then, fate willing, there’s the College World Series.
Honestly, the Crosstown Gauntlet probably never crossed John Savage‘s mind. But regardless, the points that his team earned help solidify the Bruins’ dominance of USC in the 2012-13 school year, even while they prepare for bigger and better things.
However, in spite of the success, there’s work left to do. The Trojans still hold an 8-4 advantage in the Gauntlet overall, and will no doubt be focused on reclaiming it in 2014. The UCLA football team will have to find a way to win at the Coliseum in November if the Bruins hope to take it home back-to-back for the first time ever.
If there is one certainty though, it’s on the baseball diamond where you can count on more UCLA wins than losses. Since Savage took over in 2005, the Bruins have gone 23-9 against their rivals, and recent trends suggest that will continue. Southern Cal baseball is sinking fast while UCLA is building a dynasty, so expect plenty of Gauntlet points in the coming seasons. If all the other sports can keep up with baseball, the Bruins could be in for a long run as the collegiate champions of Los Angeles. Today, and for at least the next year, that’s exactly what they are.