Down 8-0 as they came to bat in the sixth, the Trojans looked lifeless.
USC had mustered just three hits off UC Santa Barbara starter Greg Davis and looked like it was heading toward its longest losing streak since 2006.
But as the Gauchos went to the bullpen, the Trojans’ bats found an untapped reserve of life. They scored nine runs over the final four innings and stunned UCSB, 9-8 at Dedeaux Field.
Senior outfielder Mike O’Neill scored on a wild pitch to win the game, capping a bizarre night.
Senior Adam Dedeaux made his first start for USC (16-20), and it was a forgettable one. He lasted just two and two-third innings, allowing five runs on seven hits.
Junior Ryan Cabral relieved him and allowed two runs in an inning and a third. Senior Kevin Couture followed and gave up one run in two innings.
Then USC’s bats went to work against the Gauchos’ bullpen, beginning with Nick Loredo.
Senior designated hitter Keith Castillo drove in sophomore first baseman Ricky Oropesa on a groundout in the sixth to start the scoring. Sophomore catcher Kevin Roundtree followed with a two-run single in the seventh to make it 8-3.
USC didn’t stop there.
O’Neill led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk and came around to score on sophomore infielder Ryan Bast’s single, his first career RBI at USC.
He advanced to third on a single by sophomore infielder Ashton Kent and scored when Kent was caught in a rundown between first and second. He was eventually tagged out, but only after Bast crossed the plate.
Beleaguered UCSB reliever David Meals came in to pitch the ninth and hold down an 8-5 lead, but never got out of the inning.
Freshman pinch-hitter Cade Kreuter walked to lead off the inning, Meals hit junior infielder Joe De Pinto and Roundtree walked to load the bases.
Oropesa, who went 3-for-5 in the game, drove in two runs with a single to right. On the play, Roundtree was thrown out trying for third, and the tying run remained on first with one out.
Meals, however, continued to struggle. He walked O’Neill, pushing Oropesa to second. Castillo followed with an RBI single, scoring Oropesa and tying the game at 8-8.
On the play, O’Neill went to third, setting up the walkoff wild pitch.
With the victory, USC stopped a six-game losing streak and prevented its longest slide since losing 10 in a row to end the 2006 season.
Now, the Trojans will look to capitalize on the momentum from Tuesday’s game as they continue Pac-10 play. USC faces a stiff three-game test at No. 18 Oregon this weekend.