In a marathon 14-inning affair, the No. 22 Trojans fell to No. 9 UCLA 5-3 to wrap up the annual Dodger Stadium Classic at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
USC took a 2-run deficit into the bottom of the 14th frame. Southall and Nootbaar led things off with back-to-back singles to put the tying run on first with none out, but the Trojans could not complete the rally.
Senior Brent Wheatley toed the rubber for Sunday’s game against the Bruins, as the Trojans took on their crosstown rivals in a non-conference game. USC raced out to an early lead thanks to senior A.J. Ramirez’s 2-run triple in the bottom of the first. A double steal set up freshman outfielder Lars Nootbaar to lay down a safety squeeze, scoring junior second baseman Frankie Rios and extending the lead to 3-0.
UCLA responded with a run in the top of the third and then 2 more in the top of the fourth to tie things up. Redshirt junior Joe Navilhon entered in relief of Wheatley to start the fifth and continued a weekend of sharp performances out of the USC bullpen. The right-hander tossed three scoreless frames to keep the deadlock in place. Senior Brooks Kriske picked up where Navilhon left off, tossing up two goose eggs before the game went into extra innings.
Junior Jeff Paschke entered the game in the 10th, retiring the side in order, but ran into trouble in the top of the 11th. He managed to escape with the score still tied with the go-ahead run stranded at third base. Senior closer Marc Huberman pitched the twelfth, also getting out of the inning with the go-ahead run 90 feet from home.
Huberman worked a scoreless 13th but he couldn’t work out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 14th, allowing a weak single up the middle to UCLA’s Cristoph Bono to plate the go-ahead run and an error by redshirt junior shortstop Reggie Southall brought another run home to give the Bruins a 5-3 lead.
“It was an unbelievable college baseball game,” head coach Dan Hubbs said after the loss. “I think people got their money’s worth.”
Hubbs, however, was disappointed that the Trojans did not execute when they had their opportunities.
“We had the tying run in scoring position,” he said, referring to the bottom of the 14th inning. “Someone has to get a hit there.”
Next up for the Trojans is a challenging trip to Fort Worth, Texas to take on TCU. The Horned Frogs visited Los Angeles for the Dodger Stadium Classic in 2015, falling to USC, 7-6, in a 12-inning thriller at Dedeaux Field.