USC bested by Arizona in inconsistent home series

Junior first basemen Dillon Paulson boasts a .992 fielding percentage with just two errors. As a team, the Trojans rank third in the NCAA D-I for fielding percentage leaderboard. Emily Smith | Daily Trojan

The USC baseball team continued its inconsistent season, losing its series with the Arizona Wildcats 1-2 at home.

The team lost the first game of the series by a stunning score of 14-2. Arizona’s dangerous lineup jumped all over freshman pitcher Kyle Hurt, scoring at least 2 runs in three of the first four innings.

Hurt couldn’t locate his pitches. He walked the first two batters in the second inning. The first walked batter scored on a groundout while the second came in on a high pitch that sophomore catcher Blake Sabol couldn’t handle, giving the Wildcats a 4-0 lead.

Both teams scored a run in the third, with Arizona’s coming on a missile from sophomore second baseman Cameron Cannon over the left field wall for a solo home run. In the bottom of the inning, USC was able to muster an RBI on a hit to the right-center gap.

However, after that, the Wildcats blew the game open in the fourth, scoring 5 runs. By this point, Hurt had allowed 8 earned runs and walked five batters in 3.1 innings of work.

With freshman lefty John Beller in relief, the Wildcats didn’t relent. Arizona then scored 10 runs on six hits.

After that, the Wildcats racked up 4 more runs throughout the rest of the game. The Trojans did manage a run in the bottom of the ninth, on an RBI from redshirt sophomore catcher Kaleb Murphy, resulting in a final score of 2-14.

The Trojans returned to face the Wildcats with a bang Saturday, winning 12-2 in their fourth 14-hit effort in the last six games. The Trojans came out on top early, 4-0.

“They went with a 2-0 changeup, so I was just trying to think the other way with the fastball and they doubled up with the changeup,” Sabol said of his home run pitch in a post-game interview with Pac-12 Network. “Luckily, I was able to keep my barrel through the zone long enough to catch it well.”

Much like Arizona did the previous day, USC stepped on their opponent’s neck while they had an advantage, posting 6 runs in the bottom of the third.

Sabol continued to make an impact on the game, as his sacrifice fly to left field scored Jamal O’Guinn. Finally, Chase Bushor came in to score on junior outfielder Lars Nootbaar’s single, giving the Trojans a 10-0 lead.

Arizona’s only 2 runs of the game came from first baseman Alfonso Rivas III’s single in the sixth.

It was a team effort at the plate for the Trojans: Eight players scored and five had multiple hits. Both Bushor and Sabol had three RBIs that day, and Sabol’s home run was his second of the season.

“We were relentless,” head coach Dan Hubbs said in a video released on the team’s official Twitter account.

Junior starting pitcher Solomon Bates continued his strong play, giving up 2 runs on four hits in seven innings pitched.

“Solomon was really, really good,” Hubbs said. “He just kept putting up zeroes and allowing us to come back in and score some runs.”

Sunday’s game did not feature such substantial scores, and ended in a 4-2 victory for the Wildcats. Arizona scored the first 2 runs off a bloop single with the bases loaded. The Trojans would counter with 2 runs of their own in the sixth. The first came on a Nootbaar single, which scored Sabol and advanced Brandon Perez to third. Perez then scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Dillon Paulson.

But the Wildcats came back with two more runs in the seventh. After USC sophomore pitcher Chris Clarke came into the game with runners on first and second, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly led to the final score of 4-2 in favor of the Wildcats.

Once again, the Trojans showed flashes of greatness but couldn’t put it all together for a whole series. With next weekend’s series at No. 13 UCLA, the Trojans need to find consistency. USC will have two weekday games against UC Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount to prepare for their game against the Bruins.


Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the USC Baseball team played in Arizona. The game was at home. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.