Even after a loss, there is usually some sort of chatter. Talk about what could have gone better or what went wrong.
But following the Trojans (20-16) 1-0 loss to Long Beach State (19-19) on Tuesday, there was nothing.
“I don’t know what to say, really,” USC coach Frank Cruz said. “Tonight was just baseball. We competed. We just didn’t get the hit we needed.”
Indeed, the Trojans had four hits the entire game against six different pitchers. Long Beach State had three hits against five different pitchers.
With the game scoreless in the top of the seventh, Dirtbag first baseman Ino Patron lead off with the single. Third baseman Michael Hill followed that with what was arguably the game’s most important play: a sacrifice bunt that put Patron in scoring position for pinch-hitter Brennan Fulkerson, who singled to right for the game’s only RBI.
Long Beach State threatened in the sixth as well, putting runners at the corners with one out against senior pitcher Ben Mount. But a well-turned third-to-second-to-first double play got the Trojans out of that jam.
The Trojans also threatened little throughout the game. Senior first baseman Matt Foat was thrown out at home trying to score from second on a single in the fourth inning, and freshman left fielder Dante Flores nearly smacked a two-run home run to right in the sixth, but the ball was caught on the warning track.
“With two outs, we’re gonna put the pressure on,” Cruz said. “They made a good play and threw us out.”
The Trojans had not played since last Wednesday, when they blew a three-run ninth inning lead against UC Santa Barbara and lost in 12 innings. With nearly a week of that sour taste in their mouths, the team was looking to right the ship before a tough three game set against Oregon State this weekend. While they couldn’t do that, Cruz seemed much less troubled by his team’s performance against the Dirtbags than he was against UCSB.
“Tonight we competed,” Cruz said. “We pitched well, we had some chances. We’re in a funk right now.”
Apart from an 11 run outburst against Cal State Bakersfield last Tuesday, the Trojans have scored just six runs in their last five games. And in the 48 innings they have played in those five games, they have scored runs in just three of them.
The Dirtbags are 9-2 in their last 11, and avenged a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Trojans in both teams’ fourth game of the season down in Long Beach.