Baseball defeats Pepperdine

After a shaky start, freshman pitcher Chandler Champlain clamped down on Pepperdine. (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan)

USC defeated Pepperdine 5-2 at Dedeaux Field Tuesday night. The Trojans entered the game looking to rebound after dropping two of three games in a series against Utah in Salt Lake City. Pepperdine also looked to bounce back following a 3-2 loss to UCLA just the day before.

Sophomore pitcher Brian Gursky started the game for the Trojans and Pepperdine threatened early. In the first inning, Pepperdine freshman infielder Wyatt Young hit a leadoff single that skipped into right field. Two batters later, Pepperdine had runners on both corners after redshirt sophomore outfielder Reese Alexiades flew out to center field, advancing Young to third base. Despite runners on first and third, Gursky closed the inning out, and both teams entered the second inning scoreless.

Pepperdine’s bats started to heat up in the third inning. Young singled to left field to start the frame, advancing to third on a double by senior outfielder Matthew Kanfer and setting him up to score on a sacrifice fly by Alexiades.

Freshman pitcher Chandler Champlain hopped on the mound for the Trojans to start the fourth inning. Champlain struggled early, allowing two hits and advancing a runner on a wild pitch. Pepperdine added to its lead on a ground out RBI to make the score 2-0. Champlain stranded a runner to finish the inning but the Trojans needed a response.

In the bottom of the inning, junior outfielder Matthew Acosta provided just that when he blasted his fifth home run of the year off of a sinker by redshirt freshman pitcher Raul Salazar. The homer sailed over the right field wall, cutting Pepperdine’s lead to 1 run. USC’s next three batters all grounded out, but the Trojans had regained a semblance of momentum.

In the fifth inning, USC’s bullpen continued to deliver with Champlain allowing only one hit and stranding a runner. Meanwhile, the Trojan offense caught fire.

The rally began with a single by junior outfielder Brady Shockey up the middle. Junior catcher Blake Sabol followed with a single of his own to put Shockey on second. A sacrifice fly advanced the two runners, and Shockey ultimately tied the game up on a wild pitch by Waves redshirt junior pitcher Michael Mahony.

“We got the scouting report that the guy throws a lot of curveballs coming out of the pen,” Shockey said after the game. “So I was just told to be ready and look for anything in the dirt and be extra aggressive. Once I saw that ball get past him, I took off.”

After the run, Mahoney walked sophomore infielder Jamal O’Guinn, who stole second on the next pitch and advanced to third on an error by Pepperdine’s catcher. Sabol came home to give USC a 3-2 lead. Sophomore infielder Ben Ramirez tacked on another run for the Trojans with an RBI single.

USC’s offense went back to work in the bottom of the sixth and cemented their lead with an RBI single by redshirt junior catcher CJ Stubbs that sliced into right field and pushed Shockey home for his second run of the day.

Sophomore pitcher John Beller took over for Champlain in the seventh and threw a scoreless inning. Pitchers freshman Carson Lambert and junior Chris Clarke struck out two batters and held Pepperdine scoreless over the game’s final two frames.

The game was full of strong performances for the Trojan bullpen. USC held Pepperdine scoreless over the game’s final five innings and struck out six batters while walking just two on the day. Champlain tossed the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, allowing only three hits and 1 run while picking up his second career win.

Ramirez led the team in hits and highlighted a stellar offensive performance by the Trojans, going 3-for-4 at the plate with 1 RBI. Sabol had two hits and 1 run while Shockey made it to home plate twice.

“We did a nice job of not beating ourselves,” head coach Dan Hubbs said. “I thought the pitchers threw a ton of strikes, we played good defense and we obviously had that 3-run inning where we were able to put up a crooked number and that was something we had trouble doing the last couple days in Utah. Overall, it was a nice win, and we got to do that more often, just have a nice boring win.”

With the win, USC improves to 15-20 and looks ahead to a three-game series against Washington State. The Cougars are last in the Pac-12 with a conference record of 1-11. First pitch is 6 p.m. Thursday at Dedeaux Field.