In a season full of walk-off victories for USC baseball, the Trojans (20-15) couldn’t get that elusive game-winning hit against UC Santa Barbara. And that wasn’t the worst of it.
USC blew a three-run ninth-inning lead against the Gauchos (18-17), then gave up a game-winning single in the 12th.
After retiring the first two hitters of the inning, junior pitcher Matt Munson gave up a single, a hit batsman and finally the eventual game-winning single to Gaucho infielder Peter Maris, just the second RBI of Maris’ career.
The Trojans put up a four-spot in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead, and took that lead into the ninth.
But senior closing pitcher Martin Viramontes gave up three consecutive singles to lead off the ninth to make it 4-2. With runners at the corners, the Gauchos attempted a sacrifice bunt.
The bunt was popped up and caught by Viramontes, but his throw to first in an attempt to double-off the runner was wild, allowing that runner to move to second and the runner on third to score.
Freshman Wyatt Strahan was brought into the game with one out and the tying run at second, and gave up a game-tying single to the first hitter he faced, forcing extra innings.
The Gaucho rally squandered a tremendous outing by Andrew Triggs.
After giving up back-to-back singles to lead off the game, yielding one first-inning run, the senior ace retired 19 of the last 21 Gaucho hitters he faced, including 11 straight from the third through the sixth inning.
Triggs’ final line was impressive as usual: one run on three hits over seven innings, with one walk to four strikeouts.
Usually the Trojans’ Friday night ace, Triggs was able to get four full days of rest following his start in Tempe, Ariz.
The Trojans have this coming weekend off, so Triggs will not be slated to start again until the following Friday.
It looked for a while like Triggs, plagued all season by a lack of run support, would be the recipient of another weak offensive showing.
Save for a 15-run outburst against Washington State at the end of March, the Trojans had scored a combined five runs over Triggs’ last four starts.
But junior shortstop Adam Landecker led off the sixth with a walk.
Senior first baseman Matt Foat followed that up with an infield single, and both runners advanced 90 feet when the throw to first was wild, the first of three Gaucho errors in the inning.
Landecker scored on an RBI-single to tie the game and Foat scored on the second error of the inning — a passed ball — to give the Trojans the lead, 2-1.
With the bases loaded and two down, a groundball to the second baseman led to the Gauchos’ third error of the inning, scoring two and giving USC a 4-1 lead.
But apart from that four-run outburst, the Trojan offense did not put up much of a fight throughout the rest of the game. USC only managed to put two runners on base in the fourth, ninth and 11th innings, and they hit into a double play in all three.
This one will sit with the Trojans for a while, and not just because of the nature of the loss.
They have almost a full week off before returning to action at Dedeaux Field on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Long Beach State.