USC avoids sweep in win over Stanford
After dropping both games of a doubleheader on Sunday at No. 2 Stanford, USC baseball managed to come away with an 8-4 win in the series finale last night.
Freshman pitcher Stephen Tarpley was impressive, going 6 1/3 strong innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, with no walks to his two strikeouts and lowering his ERA to 3.25.
It wasnât exactly high-stress pitching for Tarpley. USC (14-8, 2-4) put up five runs in the first inning and never lost the lead. But thatâs not to say they didnât look back.
Stanford (15-3, 2-1) got two back in the second, but then both teams were shut out for the next six innings. In the eighth, the Cardinal scored two runs with only one out, but the Trojan bullpen got out of the inning with the lead intact. Three insurance runs in the top of the ninth made it a stress-free last three outs for the Trojans.
âGoing one-and-two is not what you want,â USC coach Frank Cruz said. âThey stole those first two from us. But obviously itâs better to not get swept.â
Game one on Saturday was a classic pitcherâs duel. USC senior pitcher Andrew Triggs held the Cardinal scoreless for six innings but was matched by his Stanford counterpart Mark Appel, one of the top prospects in the upcoming MLB draft. Appel allowed just one hit in the first six innings, Triggs three. But after being sent down in order for four consecutive innings, the Cardinal broke the deadlock in the seventh with a pair of singles and an RBI-groundout.
Trailing by one and down to their last out in the ninth with Appel still on the mound, the Trojans got back-to-back hits, including a double from senior catcher Kevin Roundtree to put runners on second and third. Up stepped walk-on sophomore infielder Kevin Swick. Down to his last strike, Swick smacked a two-RBI single up the middle to dramatically vault the Trojans into the lead.
It appeared for a moment that Swick would be the hero. But with Triggs still on the mound in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinal got a leadoff double, a groundout that advanced the runner to third and a sacrifice fly to tie the game. After a single, Stanford right fielder Austin Wilson smacked a crushing, walk-off two-run home run to give the Cardinal a 4-2 victory.
âIn hindsight, I still would have left Triggs in,â Cruz said. âHeâd only thrown 84 pitches going into the ninth; heâd been pitching really well. Heâs our guy.â
Triggs went a complete 8 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits, but was bettered by Appel. The potential first-round draft pick went all nine innings, allowing just two runs on six hits, with seven strikeouts to just two walks.
The nightcap of the doubleheader was a similarly crushing loss. Stanford put two up in the first inning, and the score stayed at 2-0 until the Trojans got one back in the fifth. Senior starter Ben Mount gave up one more run before departing after six innings of work.
USC stayed down 3-1 until the eighth, when the team loaded the bases with one out. But after getting one run across, a deflating double play groundout ended the inning and left the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
Freshman second baseman Dante Flores led off the ninth with a solid single and was bunted over to second, but a pair of flyouts ended the game.
âWe have to play better,â Cruz said. âWe canât keep losing series.â
USC travels to UC Irvine on Wednesday, before continuing conference play at Washington State next weekend.