The Waves hosted a “Beach Day at the Ballpark,” for USC’s matchup with Pepperdine on Tuesday afternoon, complete with beach music and a hula contest. And, just like a typical lazy day at the beach, once the sun started to set and the cool breeze turned cold, it was time to go home.
That’s because the battle between USC (13-19) and Pepperdine (15-16) was suspended after 11 innings, with the scored tied at 5-5, because of darkness. While the Waves’ home field, Eddy D. Field Stadium, has a lovely view of the ocean, it does not have lights.
There aren’t supposed to be ties in baseball. It’s said to be like kissing your sister. The Waves and Trojans didn’t have a full-on make out session, but they did have an awkward moment that will force them to resume the game at a later date. USC interim head coach Frank Cruz said the teams will finish the game when Pepperdine visits Dedeaux Field on May 24.
USC infielders Ricky Oropesa and Matt Foat were responsible for the unusual ending. With the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning, the junior duo tied the game with a pair of sacrifice flies against Pepperdine closer Ricky Villareal.
In the 11th inning, Foat had an opportunity to put the Trojans ahead after Oropesa walked to put runners on first and second. But Villareal got Foat to fly out to right field to end the game. Following a 1-2-3 inning by junior reliever Ben Mount, play was suspended. It is the first time USC has had a game suspended since 2000, when the Trojans had to finish a game suspended at Loyola Marymount, also due to darkness.
“I’m much happier than losing, but I’m not as happy as winning,” Cruz said. “But we still have a chance to win this game.”
Because Mount is currently the pitcher of record, he will likely start the game when it is resumed in May.
“He threw really well with four strikeouts in three innings,” Cruz said. “That’s the most positive thing to come out of this game.”
But USC immediately struck back in the next half inning. Back-to-back hits by freshman catcher Kevin Swick and sophomore outfielder J.R. Aguirre put runners on the corners for junior outfielder Garret Houts, who drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt.
After the Waves added a run to take a 3-1 lead, USC tied the game in the fifth inning when Oropesa laced a single into centerfield to score Aguirre and De Pinto.
The game stayed knotted until the eighth inning when Trojans’ freshman reliever Kyle Richter was removed from the game after throwing three solid innings. In relief, USC junior closer Chad Smith allowed back-to-back hits that scored a pair of runs, one of which was charged to Richter.
Luckily, the Trojans were able to bounce back, responding with the pair of sacrifice flies in the ninth inning that pushed the game into extra innings and the eventual suspension of play.
With a win, the Trojans would have won four of their last five games, including a conference series win against then-No. 11 Stanford during the weekend.
This weekend the Trojans will host Oregon. It will be the final three games of a 24-game stretch in which the Trojans have played all but five games at home